Time travel is probably my most favourite of sci-fi themes. So when I saw time travel plus that gorgeous cover, I knew I'd probably love this story. Love it? Not so much. Like it? Yes.
The story is about Emerson, a 17 year old girl who is an orphan being looked after by her brother and his wife. She has recently returned to Tennessee from a boarding school in Arizona. Apparently she has had some emotional and mental problems in dealing with the death of her parents; playing into these problems are the fact that she can see apparitions. Her brother has tried many things in an effort to help her and finally happens upon the Hourglass organization, and he hires a consultant to assist Emerson in dealing with these problems.
I'm not sure if I liked Emerson or not. She was wisecracking, headstrong, reckless and just flat annoying at times. No matter how those around her tried to help her or advise her, she always seemed to think she had a better idea about the way things should be done. She didn't seem to make even one wise decision. I think I could have liked her a lot if she'd either dealt more seriously with her backstory or if she hadn't had the backstory and was just sarcastic. But the marriage of the two made her less than believable for me.
Michael was all over the place for me. I never did seem to grasp his purpose: was he a therapist? Was he a friend? How could he be just a couple of years older than Emerson and yet in a position to advise her counsel her? Did he live in the apartment loft or at the pseudo-frat house at the unnamed college he attended? Was he able to ever give Emerson a straight answer about anything and did was he ever going to tell her anything specific about anything?
The plot started out seeming like a ghost story. But wait, wasn't this supposed to be time travel? The story seemed to take a lot of time laying out details that didn't connect at all. I was lost - and thus bored - for about the first half of the book. And then suddenly things got interesting. All these random facts and situations started to tie together and make sense, and lo and behold there was time traveling happening!
Fortunately, the time travel wasn't excessively complicated and followed some simple rules. But the way it was couched within superheroes with super powers didn't appeal to me at all. Mad scientists? Yes. Empaths? OK, but what does that have to do with time travel?
When the story got to the actual time-traveling and stopped being about all kinds of other paranormal nonsense, it got pretty good. There was mystery, intrigue, really evil villains, and some degree of unpredictability. Emerson seemed to get a brain and Michael got a purpose. The insta-love stopped being stupid and started making some sense. The random happenings at the beginning of the story started to tie in, and the whole story ended up being pretty good.
I liked the secondary characters more than the main characters, which seems odd. But Kaleb and Lily had some depth and great qualities. Apparently Kaleb has a big role in the sequel "Timepiece," which immediately makes me want to read it.
So much of this story seems convenient and cliche. There are definitely books out there that do time travel better. But this one does an adequate job. I can't put a hearty recommendation behind it, but it is a somewhat entertaining and quick read. If my expectations had been lower, I think I would have enjoyed this book more. That said, I will be reading the sequel. Often a series gets better if the first book is less than stellar. And hey, it's time travel. That alone makes me want to keep going.