Time travel isn’t a wonder; it’s an abomination.
Wow. I honestly am not sure what I even want to rate this book but I guess I’ll go with a four. Ever since I got hooked on Doctor Who quite a few years back, I have gotten my hands on any and all YA time travel books that I could. Of course they seem to be hit or miss. Basically, if the time travel ~makes sense~ I usually love it. If it doesn’t, or is just too convoluted, they’re usually just mehh in my opinion. This one, as far as the actual inner workings of time travel seemed pretty easy. Yes, it can still sometimes be hard to wrap your mind around but..it’s time travel. Of course you’re going to have to think through all the complexities.
Basically this story starts out on two timelines, one with a character named Em narrating and the other with a character named Melanie narrating. Em is in a prison cell with a boy she knows named Finn (you can’t tell if they’re best friends or together at first) in the next cell over. They have been in there for some time and seem to be tortured for some kind of important information that they won’t give up. In her cell is a drain with a grate over it. For some reason it really bothers her—like seriously freaks her out until she is able to open it. Inside is a sealed bag with a piece of paper in her own handwriting with a list of things crossed out. The very last thing on the list reads something along the lines of “You have to kill him.” Very ominous, I know. She and Finn then need to escape their cells and travel back in time to kill whoever “him” is to prevent this time traveling machine from ever being made.
Melanie is narrating a time four years previous to Em’s perspective and has a best friend named James that she’s in love with. James has another friend named Finn that Melanie happens to hate. Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention but it took me what was probably longer than necessary to realize that those Finn’s were the same person lol. As you can probably tell, the two stories intersect in the most interesting of ways.
But progress is always dangerous, isn’t it? Most of the time, walls don’t get dismantled brick by brick. Someone has to crash through them.
I don’t know if I consider this next part a spoiler or not since you find all of this out relatively early on in the book so I guess if you really just want to go into it blind, don’t read the next part…
Eventually you find out that Melanie is actually Em from the past. James is the one who creates the time machine, and as I said earlier, Finn is the same Finn (and is in love with the Em of the present.) Like I said, it took me (looking back) what seemed like way too long to figure that all out, I will admit it. Once things get going we see what Em and Finn do to try and kill past James so that the machine will never have been invented while seeing how those actions affect past Melanie, Finn, and James in their own present. I might have totally butchered explaining that, who knows haha. While I thought all of those small little aspects were incredibly well thought out and while I really liked the ending, I wasn’t completely sold.
The one major thing that affected my rating was the fact that on numerous occasions Em and Finn had these flashbacks to their past while also making mention of previous timelines in which they have traveled back other times to try and stop James from making the machine. They know this because of the list that Em finds in the drain like I mentioned earlier. For me, those small mentions and flashbacks were not enough. I felt like I needed *more*. I needed more about Finn and Em’s relationship. I needed WAY more about those past timelines, the newly dystopian-ish state of the US, and specific things that Finn and Em went through together to turn them into this semi-hardened versions of themselves. I think that even just a little bit more information would have gone a long way in raising the stakes for us as readers wanting James to be taken down.
I tell her she’s beautiful and perfect and she’s going to be okay. I tell her she doesn’t need to change herself to fit in with shallow girls or to matter to someone. I tell her everything I wish I had ever known. I tell her I love her, and I realize as I say it that I love me, too.
Overall, good example of time travel done right and I would definitely recommend!