Myra McEntire – Hourglass

I probably would have completely ignored this book if it weren’t for the reading group on Literaturschock (German). While I still believe it’s always good to keep an open mind, in this case, I wouldn’t have missed much. This turns out to be just another pointless, wannabe YA romance with fantasy elements. *sigh*

by Myra McEntire

published: Egmont USA, 2011
pages: 394
copy: ebook
series: Hourglass #1

my rating: 2,5/10

first sentence: My small Southern hometown is beautiful in the haunting way an aging debutante is beautiful.

The blurb: For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn’t there: swooning SouthernBelles; 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 triedeverything, 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 havehappened?

What I thought:
Emerson, our emotionally damaged herione, meets a tall dark stranger and finds out she can actually time travel. Yay!  Let me say first and foremost that this is pretty much it. There is very little plot to this story and the time travel element, which I was really looking forward to, is left unexplored and sadly explained in a very bad way. You need the time travel gene (fair enough), something called “exotic matter” (I had to look this one up on wikipedia) and – here’s the bummer – an object, usually a ring, made of duronium, a mysterious type of metal. Now I know this isn’t hard science fiction and I’m fine with that. But rather than come up with a ridiculous explanation like that, the author should have just left it vague. Time travel gene, click your heels and  – boom! – you’re in the past, would have been better than this. That’s just my opinion.

So, if there’s not much plot, what are those almost 400 pages about, you ask? Weeeeeell, about the characters of course. This book focuses on the relationships which happen both way too fast and are very much lacking credibility. Maybe because the characters are simply stand-ins for one trait each. Michael stands for “mysterious hot guy”, Kaleb stands for “slightly more open hot guy”, there’s the BFF hot girl, the competition hot girl, the physicist hot woman and an evil guy who is virtually never present. This actually led to me mixing up the names of the evil guy and the man they set out trying to save. Everybody’s hot, everybody’s kind of the same – except for Emerson, who’s just weird and has aggression issues.

We are thrown into a very small world, populated by just these few and way too perfect characters. As world-building goes, I’d say this is the bare minimum. Settings are secondary, characters’ looks are the focal point of McEntire’s writing. The heavy dialogue almost comes as a relief after too many descriptions of muscular bodies, six-packs and gorgeous women with endless legs. Not a single person in this story seems to look like a regular person. Sure, this is the Hollywood approach, but I personally love books because you still meet flawed characters. Physical as well as character flaws are what draws readers in and in Hourglass, these were simply missing. Also, I did a search for “muscle” in my ebook and it comes up a whopping 15 times. And that’s just the world “muscle”. Not considering “abs”, “six pack”, or “bicep” which are also used to describe any male character.

Em’s first person narrative tries to be witty but ends up being unoriginal and gravely misunderstanding her own personality. She thinks of herself as this bad ass karate kid who’s tough and pulling through hard times. But the way she acts shows us that she’s quite sensitive and frail, if very aggressive and easily jealous. Of course, she has no idea how beautiful she is. What’s worse though is that none of the characters have any drive for doing what they do. For me, pretty characters without personality are just not enough. I want to identify or at least care about the characters. I want to feel that spark between the lovers, not bluntly be told “They’re in love other after two weeks of knowing each other”.

There are two plot-twists towards the end, one of which was painfully predictable. The ending as such was not satisfying at all. Too many coincidences come together, side plots are introduced or hinted at and then abandoned (I’m assuming, for use in later books) and success was much too easily achieved.

If there’s no conflict and no plot and no proper time travel, why did I read this book in the first place? Because it’s a quick read. There may not be much happening and I may not have liked any of the characters but the writing is fast-paced and you can finish this book in a day. I think Myra McEntire has potential as a writer, this book was just below avarage for me and I’m not sure if I’ll read the second one in the series.

I don’t know what it is lately with me picking really bad YA books. But I’m going to leave this particular genre be for a while and read me some grown-up books by authors who know their craft. I’m really yearning for characters with flaws and stories with plot.

THE GOOD: Fast-paced, easy read.
THE BAD: One-trait-characters, everybody’s beautiful. Not much time travel going on.
THE VERDICT: Not a book you have to read. If you want good YA time travel, read Kerstin Gier’s Ruby Red trilogy.

RATING: 2,5/10  Not complete rubbish but close enough

The Hourglass series:

  1. Hourglass
  2. Timepiece
  3. not published yet

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