Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hourglass Book Review

Author: Myra McEntire. Release date: 2011. Publisher:  Egmont USA. ISBN: 9781606841440.
Annotation:  Emerson Cole is plagued by a strange curse – she is constantly seeing people who aren’t real. She’s not sure if they’re ghosts, memories, or just plain hallucinations, but, after her parents’ death, her visions land her in a psych ward. She has just been recently released and reunited with her older brother when she meets Michael Weaver, a handsome and intelligent man barely older than she is, who promises her answers.      
Personal thoughts:  I had high hopes for this book, and still do for this series, even though I didn’t completely enjoy the story. I think McEntire did an excellent job of describing the setting of the novel and Emerson herself, but fell short with Michael. He is clearly the leading man and his impending romance with Emerson is obvious from the start, but he is rather one-dimensional for much of the novel. The end of the book, however, makes me believe that the sequel holds a lot of promise and I look forward to reading it when it is released next year.
Plot summary: After her parents are killed in a tragic accident, Emerson Cole’s ability to cope with the grief of her loss is seriously hampered by visions of people that aren’t real; people clearly from the past, who disappear as soon as she touches them. Emerson isn’t sure if what she’s seeing are ghosts or if she’s simply nuts, but she soon finds herself in hospital psych ward before moving to Sedona, Arizona to attend a boarding school. Now Emerson is seventeen and determined to move back to her home in Nashville to spend her senior year living with her brother, Thomas, his kind wife, Dru, attend high school with her lifelong friend, Lily. Emerson continues to see her visions, troubling Thomas and Dru, who hire Michael Weaver, a mysterious employee of a company known only as Hourglass, to help her. Michael is handsome, intelligent and barely older than Emerson. She soon discovers that Michael knows all about her “gift” and that she is, in fact, seeing time ripples, or “rips,” visions of the past that indicate she is a time traveler herself. Emerson is comforted realizing that she is not delusional, but when Michael asks for her help in preventing an untimely death four months earlier, she begins to wonder if she’d rather be simply crazy than have the ability to travel through time.
Review: McEntire’s first novel brings a slow but promising start to a new series that is reminiscent of others with a few twists. Time travel is always a popular topic in young adult novels, and McEntire’s take on the concept (i.e. exotic matter, bridges, time ripples, time travel genes, etc.) makes for a series with potential. Unfortunately, this potential is somewhat hampered by some timing issues (things take a while to get going), some cliché characters, and an ambiguous “bad guy.” Emerson herself is an interesting protagonist, with a rocky history but a lot of heart and sass. Michael is a somewhat one-dimensional “hottie” who only becomes likeably well into the book. The end result is a predictable but still pleasing romance between the two that McEntire will surely expand in later installments of the series. The most interesting characters in Hourglass are, unfortunately, on the sidelines. Michael’s sexy friend Kaleb is far more intriguing than the leading man, as is Jack, the handsome and mysterious figure who keeps appearing in Emerson’s room, making her doubt that he is just another one of her visions. Overall, the story gets a bit muddled in the middle chapters, but picks up quite a bit at the end, giving hope for a good adventure in the following installments.
Genre: Romance/Time Travel/Mystery
Reading level: Grade 7+

Similar titles: Ruby Red series by Kerstin Gier.
Themes:  Time travel, loss/grief, romance, murder.    
Awards/Reviews:  Positive reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus.
Series Information: First novel in Hourglass series.  
Discussion questions: 
- Do you think her parents’ death had any impact on Emerson’s ability to see time ripples?
- Describe what you think time ripples are.
- Who is your favorite character in the book? Why?
- Do you think Ava is a protagonist or antagonist? Why?
- How do you think the book would be different if it was told from Michael’s perspective? Kaleb’s?
- Do you think it would be a good idea for Emerson to travel back in time to save her parents? Why or why not?

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