Emerson Cole has always been a little different -- seeing echoes of the past, from former Scarlett O'Haras to entire jazz ensembles, makes it a difficult to live a normal life. But normal is all that Emerson wants, and she's tried for years to banish the mysterious apparitions that have plagued her since the tragic accident that killed her parents. Still, nothing has worked, so when her brother seeks help in the form of an attractive young consultant from a mysterious organization called the Hourglass, Emerson is willing to give it a try. Unfortunately, Michael has other plans -- like a dangerous trip through time to right a disastrous wrong -- that could cost Emerson her life.
Hourglass by Myra McEntire is a breath of fresh air in a market overflowing with vampires, faeries and werewolves. It is thrilling to see science fiction make such a spectacular appearance in the young adult genre. McEntire clearly did her research, incorporating the laws of physics into her theory of time travel and creating a highly intelligent novel that paranormal fans will love. Though time travel can be a bit circuitous if given too much thought, it makes for a mind-bending, exotic read in which anything is possible.
Hourglass is written in a vibrant, unique voice that leaps off the page from the very first chapter. Emerson is smart, sassy and trained in karate. She is strong and fierce, but also exhibits endearing vulnerability that she tries hard to hide. Although Emerson can occasionally be insecure, she also refuses to put up with the typical male drama and will win readers' hearts with her no-nonsense attitude and zinging comebacks.
In fact, almost all of the women in this novel are inspiring. Emerson's best friend Lily is supportive and loyal, rather than catty or self-absorbed. It is refreshing to find a healthy female friendship in a YA novel, and I would have liked to see Lily play a bigger role in the story (though I suspect she will in the sequels). Emerson's sister-in-law, Dru, is another fabulous female. She is the perfect blend of mother and big sister that Emerson so desperately needs, and shows that not all YA "parents" have to be dysfunctional.
Romantic tension drives this story, but unfortunately the male lead is a little underwhelming. The non-relationship between Emerson and Michael can be excessively angsty at times -- due in large part to Michael's attitude. Michael exhibits several of the more exasperating characteristics in a YA hero -- brooding, mixed signals, and a tendency to be overbearing. His looks are certainly seductive, and though his behavior is somewhat explained later in the novel, it is not entirely absolved. Kaleb, on the other hand, is an unapologetic hot mess -- and it works for him. His candor is bracing in an obvious bad boy, and the banter between him and Emerson is alternately snarky and sensitive, making him a much more engaging love interest.
McEntire blends all the necessary ingredients -- a fierce heroine, a fascinating premise, and some smoldering male leads -- to create a dazzling debut that promises even more epic adventures to come.
Disclosure: I received an advance review copy from the publisher. This did not affect my review in any way.