Book Review: Hourglass by Myra McEntire

May 10, 2011 Books, Reading, Reviews 5 ★★★★

I had to ruminate for a while about my feelings on this book. On one hand, I pretty much read the book in one sitting. On the other hand, there were a few elements that left me undecided about what I took away from the book overall. It was definitely a positive response, despite how that may sound.

Emerson is a teenage girl that has had a fairly rough time of things. Her parents were killed in a terrible accident and she has been raised by her brother ever since. She’s been sent to different places for school, being a bit of a problem child — but the problem isn’t really her fault. Emerson keeps seeing what might be construed as ghosts — images of southern belles and 20s jazz bands, and so on. Only she can see them, and they disappear as soon as she touches them. People think she’s crazy, and her brother Thomas is willing to try anything to help his baby sister — including hiring Michael, a ridiculously good-looking college-age guy who works for the mysterious Hourglass company. It turns out that Michael can see the “apparitions” as well, and Emerson isn’t crazy, she’s not seeing ghosts — she’s seeing into the past.

That’s right, this girl can time travel.

The rest of the book focuses on Emerson figuring out her powers and why the Hourglass people are so interested in her — and of course, there is time travel. There’s also a love triangle between Emerson, Michael, and Michael’s best friend Kaleb. I think this last bit is really what gave me trouble with writing my review for this book; the love triangle was completely unnecessary, and was really the only thing that majorly detracted from the book for me.

Emerson and Michael have a lot of chemistry because when they touch, they literally feel sparks. This has to do with their time travel powers. I get that — and I really liked Michael and the way he helped Emerson cope with what was really going on, even if he was broody at times. Emerson is pretty sassy and full of snark — but also has enough self-doubt to make her a fairly well-rounded character; she acts like a believable teenager without feeling Mary Sueish. Until Kaleb, who is a playboy, would consider becoming monogamous for her. The tension between Kaleb and Emerson feels forced and unnatural, and all of the scenes with Michael walking in on them — and the subsequent fallout — seem a little bit too cliche.

Despite this, however, the story has many redeeming qualities. It’s not a ghost story, and it’s not a time travel concept that I can really recall being explored in other young adult books. As my boyfriend pointed out to me, it is a YA romance book, so I shouldn’t get hung up on the love triangle bit; and really, once I was able to get past that, I really enjoyed the book the second time I read it. There are a few things in here that are predictable, but there are also a few twists and turns to keep you on your toes. Overall, this was a good romance story with just enough science fiction and action to keep it interesting and keep the reader engaged. Like I said, I read the book in one sitting, and very few books do that to me.

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