Monday, January 16

Hourglass by Myra McEntire

Title: Hourglass
Author: Myra McEntire
Genre: Young Adult - Paranormal & Science Fiction
How I Obtained Said Book: from the wonderful public library
Series: Book 1 in a possible two-book series
The Blurb: (from Goodreads)
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.

The Review: (Warning: Possibles spoilers below)

Emerson Cole has a serious problem. Ever since her parents were killed in an automobile accident, she's been able to see ghosts--although that might not exactly be the right word for it. They're like memories, sort of, because when Emerson sticks her hand in one of them, they immediately disappear. Before, these "memories" used to be just people from the past, but at the start of the novel, Emerson starts seeing much larger and more complicated "memories": groups of people. Scenes. So when her older brother tells Emerson that he's brought yet another consultant whom he believes will be able to help her with her "issue", Emerson is reluctant at first but eventually accepts this offer. And so, she meets Michael Weaver, who is from a mysterious organization called the Hourglass, who is--you guessed it--gorgeous, amazing, understanding...and seems to know more about Emerson that she does herself.

Yes, Publishing World, I get it. The Main Male Character in any novel MUST BE gorgeous, amazing, and understanding. He just has to be or the books will not sell. And the Main Female Character MUST CONSIDER looks first. It's an absolute must. 

If anything, the one thing I disliked the most about Emerson was her shallow personality. Throughout most of the book, Emerson admits to herself that Michael can be infuriating and messed up and whatever--but, nope, that's all right, he's forgiven, because he's also gorgeous and amazing and understanding. Why does that matter? It shouldn't! The only redeeming parts Emerson had in this case were her proper reactions to Michael's Infuriatingness--and that was getting angry with him whenever he did something confusing and selfish, in Emerson's eyes (and mine) anyway. Later on, it's revealed why Michael behaved in such a weird way, and I would have been okay with Emerson's relationship with him after reading that part if I hadn't remembered that the only reason she felt so drawn to him in the first place was because of how ridiculously gorgeous he was. 'Course, Emerson is an independent young lady (there are too many independent, hot headed, reckless young ladies in YA books these days), and she supposedly doesn't take crap from anyone--except for maybe someone who's hot and sends electric sparks at you (more on that later). 

And then there's Michael himself. He's a great example of a Gary Stu with a tragic past. Everything about him is perfect--he's hot, he's noble, he's loyal, he's compassionate, and he might be rude and horrible at times but he has good intentions so it's all right. But he's not a believable character in my eyes.  I have read this kind of personality again and again and again, and I'm fairly tired of it. Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey Series is an exception, as is Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments Series because both Ash and Jace have some pretty obvious flaws whereas Michael has none. Plus, there were parts when his dialogue got a little funky: one minute he'd be talking like he lives in the 21st century, and the next his dialogue would flash to the 19th or 20th centuries (and this isn't a plot pun or anything, guys). He could get very formal very fast. Maybe Ms. McEntire felt the need to show Michael's maturity, but to me, it just turned out inconsistent and slightly weird.

There was another big thing that bothered me: Kaleb. 

Kaleb has a somewhat important secondary role in this book (but it's not as fleshed out because Hourglass's main plot centers around the typical Emerson-Michael-Otherworldly Conflict element), and he seems to be an interesting character because he has flaws. But then he falls in love (possibly) with our main character, Emerson, because she's so independent and blunt. And this happens in the span of a day or so. Which I just don't understand. 

I'm all right with love triangles, love conflicts, love anything between more than two people. But relationships take time to build, and Kaleb's relationship with Emerson is equivalent to Romeo's relationship with Juliet. Which basically means: I don't understand it and I don't believe it. I'm actually rooting for Emerson to choose Michael on this one. They at least had some relationship development. There's also another subtle love triangle between Michael, Emerson, and this girl named Ava who is no doubt the most gorgeous girl you will ever meet. Once again there's a love triangle between Gorgeous Girl, Gorgeous Guy, and our Underdog and Very Jealous MC. And once again Gorgeous Guy just brushes off Gorgeous Girl for MC, even though she isn't gorgeous--which makes me wonder, if the author can make a non-shallow Male Lead, why can't she make a non-shallow Female Lead? There's some kind of "unexpected" twist of character traits here.

Despite all of this though, Hourglass had some pretty redeeming qualities. For example, the premise itself is very interesting. I loved how Ms. McEntire created those Laws that even time traveling had to be built around. I was a little overwhelmed and irritated by the amount of different supernatural abilities (it reminded me a lot of the vampires from the Twilight Saga), but that's okay because the characters the abilities belonged to were memorable (though, of course, I didn't get to read much about them). I also loved the plot twists. Man. Those were the best parts of the book and probably the only reasons I want to read the sequel. The only part that didn't go with me was the whole spark-igniting thing between Emerson and Michael. I really didn't understand that one. Past Time Traveler + Future Time Traveler = igniting physical sparks? Maybe this was explained in the book somewhere, but if it was, I didn't catch on. 

(SPOILERS BELOW. Highlight to read)

And speaking of the whole Past-Future time traveling thing, in the book it's stated that anyone can travel to the future, but not many can travel to the past, making Emerson very special. But hang on a second. Didn't Michael, Future Time Traveler, travel to the past with Emerson using Cat's exotic matter ability? Doesn't that mean both Past and Future time travelers could easily go to the past? (Well, assuming they find another Cat). Maybe someone can clarify this for me.

Also, I liked how Ms. McEntire created a fairly 3-D MC (despite some of the MC's characteristics being a little overused) with an interesting past. I'm a little grateful that she didn't make Michael a dark, brooding type of male lead, but his perfection was still a little too much for me.

In Conclusion...! 

Despite Hourglass falling flat and infuriating me majorly at some points, it's still pretty gripping. I mean, the plot twists were excellent. The characters/relationships, not so much. But I'm still reading the sequel,  Timepiece. 

Rating: 7 - Now this, this is a book. Just a book.
I was actually going for a 6 (Hey you. Unless you have absolutely nothing else to read, I would recommend passing this book on the bookshelf), but the plot twists were seriously good and unexpected, so I felt like they redeemed the issues I had with the book somewhat. 

- E

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