Monday, March 17, 2014

Review of Hourglass by Myra McEntire, Or, Stop Sniffing Pillows and Get Back To the Plot

I had a lot of issues with this novel, which I had such high expectations for; proof that a beautiful cover does not equal beautiful writing. 

Gorgeous, Right?
 Writing a convincing time-travelling novel is no easy feat. There are a lot of complications in a time-travel plot (even J.K. Rowling did not do it to my satisfaction; why didn't Hermione just take a nap? Who would trust such a valuable tool to a 13 year old just so she can overload on courses?). 

Hermione, make better use of that thing!

Rather than focusing on uncomplicating a complicated plot feature, McEntire decided to distract from the plot to have Emerson fall in insta-love not once, not twice, but three times in the novel (Michael, Kaleb, Jack). Unfortunately an interesting "ghost" and time-travel story took backseat to a sub-par paranormal romance (wherein all the characters, regardless of age, talked and acted like worldly 35 year olds). 

I found it frustrating that all Emerson knows about Michael is that he's hot (anyone man who wears a tight all-black ensemble with motorcycle boots sounds like a an eye-roll), smells good (so much so that even in her darkest moments Emerson can be distracted by burying her face in his man-scented pillow) and rich (what kind of sophomore in college can afford two apartments, sports car and tux?) but she's willing to tell her traumatic story to him and trust him with her life? I question her judgement.

The only thing really binding Michael and Emerson together when they first meet is their mutual ability to see things they should not. These ghosts/rips/shadows of the past were the most interesting part of the plot line, and not nearly enough time was spent on them (not even in between heavy sighs and almost-kisses). Why do they disappear when Emerson touches them? How were these people chosen to be "rips"? Why aren't the rips scared of the horseless carriages or shocked to see such an inappropriately dressed female? In future books I would expect that the reason all of time is running parallel and the lines are starting to bleed together will be explained. Unfortunately Hourglass just didn't drive enough interest for me to finish the series.

Emerson doesn't take full advantage of talking with people of the past.
I'd have a lot of questions, personally.

On top of being dissatisfied with Emerson's tendency to be attracted to (and attractive to) every man with abs in the novel and a dissatisfying time travel plot (so why did Cat open the time warp again? And did they seriously just do the evil-villan thing of explaining all their evil plots? Villians! Word of advice: shoot first, explain later. You'll never be foiled that way.) but I could not stand Emerson as a character. I don't know if the author was southern, or just thought it would be quaint to set her novel in the south, but none of the characters complied with what I know to be basic southern behavior. The southern women I know are very hospitable, chivalrous, and polite. Southern charm is about making those around you feel at ease and I didn't get that sense even once from Emerson who proved to be one of the most selfish characters I have ever read. It was subtle, but still affronting to someone who was raised better. 

Let's note some of her offenses:

1) She was just hired for a new job (faulty and illegal hiring practice, by the way) and either left work early or simply no-showed every single time

2) Her brother and sister, who have essentially become her parents for the last 4 years, are having a kid and the best she can do it a muttering of "you'll be a great mom"?  Take some interest! Get excited over those baby clothes! As questions about how they'll design the baby room or what names they're thinking about choosing. I know this won't push the plot along, but it would make Emerson a more likable character.

3) You're a guest in someone else's home and you're just going to hop up and sit on their counter and eat their fruit as they slice it- and not even offer to help? That comes across as awfully rude to me.

4) The worst offense of all was SPOILER ALERT when a certain character died, Emerson could only think me, me, me. How could I possibly lose the man I've known for a whole week! In such a dramatic state that everyone in the house has to comfort Emerson. It doesn't even occur to Emerson that Kaleb has just lost his best friend and honorary brother. NO, let's just focus on Emerson's needs. END SPOILER

But that summarizes Emerson for me- a girl who can't see past herself and her own problems. That is not a character I can like and not a character I want to read more of.



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