Book Reviews

[review] Hourglass – Myra McEntire

One hour to rewrite the past . . . 

For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn’t there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents’ death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She’s tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.

So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson’s willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past.

Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he’s around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?

Full of atmosphere, mystery, and romance, Hourglass merges the very best of the paranormal and science-fiction genres in a seductive, remarkable young adult debut.

Discovery: I first saw the cover while perusing Egmont USA’s website. I love time-travel stories, so this book found its way onto my reading list despite my misgivings over the obligatory love story.

+     Supporting characters. I was pretty ambivalent towards Emerson for most of the novel, but my interest was peaked by Dru and Thomas. They always seem to be in the sidelines, and yet there’s a story there. To be honest, I sometimes felt as though their reactions and methods of dealing with Emerson’s problems would have made a better novel. Lily doesn’t get enough page time, but she seems to have more to say. I’m hoping that these characters get more development in the succeeding books because Emerson is quite flat without playing off of them.

+     Plot. Time-travel is awesome. I’m a huge Doctor Who fan, and I loved that the TARDIS got a shout-out in the first 50 pages (even if it wasn’t actually named properly). Hourglass’s plot is acceptable as a first novel: it introduced the main characters and developed them just enough to put the events of the book into action. I liked the constant presence of the rips/ghosts and enjoyed the quest Michael and Emerson go on to save a certain life. There were some inconsistencies and plot holes, but I have faith that they’re going to be resolved in the next book. (Sorry if this is a vague review, I’m dancing around spoilers.)

–      Character development. While I liked Dru, Thomas and Lily, I did mention that they weren’t quite developed enough for my liking. In that same vein, Emerson shot for some amazing potential at the beginning of the novel and quickly deteriorated. As much as I want to avoid comparing characters I don’t particularly adore to Bella Swan, the similarities were striking. It wasn’t necessary to keep talking about how “totally hot” Emerson thought Michael’s “six-pack” was. My eyes bugged out when I read the line: “Jumping between them was as smart as jumping in the middle of a cage match, but I did it anyways, putting a hand on each of their chests. Even in the heat of the moment I had to appreciate the muscle tone of both.” To use language Emerson may understand, like, really girl? The guys were about to punch each other’s lights out for no reason. Now is not that time to focus on their bodies that way.

I also never felt like I got to know Michael enough to understand why Emerson liked him so much. As a reader, I don’t want to just have a hot guy shoved into my face and be told to love him madly. The author needs to give me substantial reasons to consider him worthy of my attention. Michael never lived up to that. Sure, he’s kind and compassionate and he really wants to help Emerson. But other than that, he’s completely one-dimensional.

–     Love triangles. This is what annoyed me the most about Hourglass. I’ve been asked before whether I like love triangles or not and to be honest, I lean more towards not. I’ve read so many novels where the love triangle becomes the be-all and end-all of the entire story and I don’t think that’s fair to the story and to the characters. We are more than who we fall in love with at sixteen. I rarely find that a love triangle is necessary to advance the story or character development. This is not one of those times.

Emerson and Michael spend much of the book falling in love with each other. Okay, I can work with that. But with 1/3 of the novel to go, the reader is suddenly introduced to Kaleb, a bear of a young man who she also feels chemistry with. He falls in love with Emerson too, and our poor girl is introduced to that awful dilemma called a love triangle. Kaleb is far more developed as a character than Michael, which places me firmly in Camp Kaleb (not that I’m really picking a team). However, I’m still not sure why exactly Emerson is in love with either of them, and vice-versa.

Recommendations: Readers looking for a light supernatural romance/mystery will like Hourglass. As a standalone novel, it doesn’t quite work, but the sequel should shed some extra light on the missing parts.

Rating: Satisfactory.

Go check out Myra McEntire’s website and follow her on Twitter @myramcentire.

Next review: Birthmarked, Caragh O’Brien

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