June 25, 2011

Time travel + strong characters = solid debut

Myra McEntire has a loyal following on Twitter, myself included. So I ticked down the days for her debut novel's publication, anxious to see how she tackles time travel in teen literature. I will say that the wait was worth it!

Book jacket summary
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 change only her future, it may also 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 it feel like an electric current runs 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?

My thoughts
Okay, first let me say this: I cannot believe this is a debut novel. There, I said it. Those were the first words I said to my husband when I finished this book. He was anxious to hear what I had to say because I would not move until I finished it. Now that I've got that off my chest, I would like to say "WOW!" I loved every page of this novel, I devoured them as fast as I could.

Here's why I loved this novel: (1) strong characters; (2) character chemistry; (3) well-developed plot; (4)  several plot twists at the end.

First, I want to address the characters. Emerson and Michael are great. Both of them have a vulnerability that solidifies their willingness to trust one another. I found that to be an endearing part of the novel. These two strangers have an unexplainable chemistry that sends shock waves through them (literally). Then there are Thomas and Dru, Emerson's brother and sister-in-law. I found myself really rooting for these two. They have a huge responsibility on their shoulders in taking care of Emerson, but they do so with love and tenderness. They are the types of guardians we all can want for our own children if something were to happen to us. And then McEntire sprinkles the novel with a lot of great supporting characters: Lily, Cat, Kaleb, Ava, Dune, Nate, and Liam (squee! My son's name is Liam). I'm leaving one out for a reason ;-)

This brings me to character chemistry throughout. I know that sounds odd for a book review, but it is true. As I was reading this novel, it played like a movie in my mind. There wasn't one character that just did not fit. They all were necessary to the plot, and they all meshed together well. The word-play off one another, the interaction between them, everything. These characters solidified the plot for me; they are what makes this book worth your time. Sometimes I read novels where it seems that something is out of place in relation to characters, but not here. 

Then there is the plot itself. I won't recap the plot again. I will just say that I loved it. I wasn't too sure how McEntire was going to deal with time travel, but it is clever. I enjoyed the way time travel happens in this novel. But do not be fooled; the book itself is not about time travel. Time travel is just a catalyst for the characters, enhancing the plot. It sets into motion the initial meeting between Emerson and Michael; it brings the other characters into the fold. The time travel is essential for the purpose of the characters, but it is not the heart. It is not what makes this novel a page turner. It is the entire package of the four elements I listed above.

I cannot comment on the several plot twists at the end of the novel. I will just say that I saw one of them coming but not the others. I love it when an author is able to surprise me in this way; surprises that I never would have guessed. 

I expect great things from McEntire in the future. She is going to make a huge impact on the writing world. If I am this enamored with her debut novel, what will happen when the next one comes out? I might have to start a McEntire fan club.

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