Friday, 5 August 2011

Hourglass by Myra McEntire (4/5)


The back says: 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 organisation 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?

I say: I saw the cover on a blog a few weeks ago and was intrigued, so I asked the library to order it in (because I didn’t want to buy it). Strangely enough, I never read the synopsis until I got the book and I seriously thought ‘oh dear.’

But it wasn’t an ‘oh dear’ book – it was actually very good.

The writing isn’t that much to note; it was good, fast paced and even funny every now and then. McEntire has managed to create a female protagonist that is all whiny and sulky or a damsel in distress – Emerson is pretty normal, actually.

Well, apart from that whole seeing dead people thing.

Because they’re all dead. At least I think so. I’m not sure how much I can say without it being all spoilery because the nice thing about this novel is that you’re continuously learning new things. Instead of there being a huge info dump at the beginning, Emerson is being fed tiny morsels of information about her ‘condition’ by Michael, and as frustrating as it is that he just won’t tell her everything, there’s a valid reason why.

Now, the relationship between these two was well-written and actually quite believable. It wasn’t the usual sappy love story, and I’m thankful for that. However, this whole thing with the electric currents running through the room when they’re around each other…

It was a tad much.

The most interesting part about this novel was the time travel involved, which was quite original. Some of it in practice was a little bit dubious, but in the scheme of things it’s all plausible, i.e. the way she describes the process of travelling through time makes sense. The not so original part of this novel was Michael and his ‘friends’ – it felt a bit like your archetypal superhero comic book (without saying too much).

Unfortunately, it became quite obvious after a while that this had to be the first in a series – which is something I’m getting really tired of (I seriously need to do better research of my reads than just ‘oooh pretty cover, I’ll get it’) – which didn’t really make the plot suffer that much; it was more the issue of introducing the stereotypical foreboding to keep the reader interested. One thing I will say to McEntire’s credit is that she didn’t go overboard on this. If I never decide to read the sequel(s), this was a pleasant and almost conclusive enough read on its own.

Aside: As always with me, as soon as the sequel is out in the stores I’ll be there to buy it ask the library to buy it. So easily ensnared.

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