Quick review for a quick read. Goodness, what a disappointment. This so called "epic romantic thriller" was surprisingly emotionless, tedious, and unimaginative. It saddens me to say that I expected so much more from Ann Brashares. I'm not going to say that there weren't great ideas in this story and some moments of clarity, but just as soon as they were built, they were subsequently dropped. Not to mention they were noted in a tell, not show fashion that related a disconnect throughout the entire narrative.
To note, I actually love time travel stories. I used to watch marathons of the TV series "Early Edition" all the time. It features Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Light's fame) playing Gary, a guy who gets the morning paper that predicts things that will happen a day early. He takes it upon himself to try to change bad events into good, and gets help from his friends Marissa, a wise blind woman who helps him along in his decisions, and Chuck, who ultimately wants Gary to use his "gifts" to more personal uses. I loved this series, it was fun in concept and creativity. I'll also admit to being a fan of the "Back to the Future" trilogy. And I really enjoyed another little known movie named "In His Father's Shoes," which transports a boy back in time to examine his father's childhood via some magic shoes after his father passes away from cancer.
Those are stories I found fun and/or interesting to watch, but I'll admit I don't mind reading/watching/perusing media where a love story is somewhere within the time travel measure too.
Case in point? "The Girl Who Leapt Through Time" and perhaps "RahXephon" could count (though if I discuss the latter in that spectrum... *spoilers*!)
But this book? Despite having some very interesting ideas, it fell flat for emotion and execution. The story revolves around the perspective of Prenna, a 17 year old girl who migrated from the future when she was only 12. In the precursory scenes of this narrative, a boy (Ethan Jarves) watches as Prenna arrives from the time cycle, though he doesn't initially believe what he sees. The two end up in each other's circles and eventually fall in love despite it being forbidden for them to do so. But there's a greater measure here as despite their relationship, they have to thwart an attempt to throw off the timeline in the present day by someone who may throw the future into more chaos than it actually is. The future is said to be bleak, but honestly it's so ill conceived that it's hard to believe. It's given next to no development, and random bits of information about said future are hardly developed. Prenna's focuses turn to her interpretations of the present day life and honestly -it comes across as dull and unimaginative for presentation. You can tell the romantic story is the main focus here, but even that's shortchanged. I could not feel for the life of me the romantic connections between Prenna and Ethan. The intimacy was awkward in presentation and lacking in vetting for the most part. There were moments I could say that had potential, but it was very mediocre especially Brashares' strength in developmental intimacy as shown by the "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" series. I would even say that her work "The Last Summer (of You and Me)" was better than this, though it had flaws of a different sort despite its intimacies and problematic characters.
I can't say that I recommend this one despite some great ideas, which included a desperate time traveler wanting to avert his own tragedy, a reveal of a stranger being closer to Prenna than even she knows, and Prenna's attempts to avoid a tragedy with her loved one while at the same time having to make a tough decision of letting go for the sake of providing a future. Much of it is presented in such a static way that it's hard to put a finger to the pulse of it.
I really wish this were a better experience. It was just so much that was underwhelming about it that it surprised me in the wrong way - more in the line of a great disappointment.
Overall score: 1.5/5 stars
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher.