Maru's Reviews > Hourglass

Hourglass by Myra McEntire
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Jan 26, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: love-triangle-disease, characters-i-hate
Recommended for: people who don't mind the LTD (love triangle disease)
Read from January 26 to February 05, 2012

I had high hopes for Hourglass because of some good reviews I read, but I have to say I was sorely disappointed with this book. Hourglass is about Emerson a girl who sees ghosts and thinks she's going crazy. Thankfully, her brother contacts Michael, who works for an organization called The Hourglass, and says he can help. Michael knows there is more to Emerson's "gift" of seeing ghosts, and so the characters embark on the discovery of supernatural abilities regarding bending time, and a quest to save a life.

Time travel is a very tricky subject to write about, I'm always very skeptical when I go into something surrounding it because there are many details about it that could make it go terribly wrong. First of all, I feel like time travel must be treated with delicacy, it shouldn't be abused, because if it is used too much you start getting into weird paradoxes, time lines, things get too confusing to understand and end up not making sense for anyone. Even the writer could get confused with his/her story at some point if they abuse time traveling too much - which I feel is what happened here. For it to make sense we would need to get a careful explanation of why it wouldn't change anything substantial in the present, of why it's the best option, and exactly how it works within the novel. The most important rule for me is, time travel can never be used as a plot device to further things along. That's what happened here, it started getting used too much without any explanations for the lack of consequences, and it just got plain confusing.

In Hourglass for about half of the novel, the notion of time travel was being addressed adequately. This changes about halfway through, and by the end it's a huge mess and I wasn't even sure how we got to that point. At first there is a good explanation for time traveling: Michael's character explains that it should not be done lightly, that it can have severe consequences. He has a quest to save his mentor, and tells Emerson, our main character, that there is a formula that in this case, and only this case would allow them to save him, change the past and come back safely. The quest consists on going back to the guy who was killed in a fire, pulling him out, replacing his body with a cadaver from a morgue (since his body was never properly identified) and telling the mentor to go into hiding until the day in which the time traveling actually occurs. This would allow for the period of time since his death up to this point (six months) to be exactly the same.

After this thorough and understandable explanation I thought everything was going to be fine. However, halfway through the book it seems like everyone forgets the right way to do it, they all start abusing the time travel for their benefit, it starts being used as a plot device for other things to happen, it stops making sense, and the characters become annoying because of it. Here are the plot holes and time-traveling related things that made no sense to me:
(view spoiler)

Unfortunately, the bad-executed plot isn't the only thing I didn't like about the book. There was something else that royally annoyed me. YES this is a novel infected by the plague of Young Adult books: love triangle. YUCK.

I HATE love triangles, and this is NOT a good one (are there any good ones? NO, but this is a particularly bad one). I really think they are a disease in YA books, a disease that starts by infecting some of the characters and then ruining them completely by the end. More often than not they are TOTALLY unnecessary, they take focus away from the plot, they make the characters less likable, weak, and they make me roll my eyes more than I would want to when reading a book. After reading so many bad love triangles, I sometimes even make a point of reading reviews and steering AWAY from any book that has been infected by this disease. I decided to give this one a chance though, I regret it now.

At first I liked the characters, granted I wished they would have been developed a tad better, but I was genuinely interested in watching Emerson and Michael's relationship develop, especially with the strange polar-opposite thing they had going on. Unfortunately, YES! you guessed it, the DISEASE couldn't stay away and instead of having one nicely developed relationship we got two underdeveloped ones in the middle of a weird, unnecessary triangle, that's impossible to understand. Impossible.

I guess this is a bit of a spoiler , so if you don't want to know ANYTHING about this book, don't read my rant here. But I'm not giving anything away plot wise so don't worry.

Ok so we are told that Michael and Kaleb are best friends. We understand that Kaleb knows that his "best friend" Michael has a thing for his time-traveling "match", Emerson, a connection that could possibly-might be turning into something emotional too. In fact when we first meet Kaleb he is giving Michael advise about this very relationship. Ok. So what's the first thing that Kaleb does when he meets this girl? He hits on her! Yes on his best friend's crush. And this is after HOURS of having met her. And Emerson, who we are supposed to believe is this strong girl suddenly is also weirdly pulled towards him for some strange reason. I thought the "pull" was just a consequence of Emerson and Michael's combined abilities, and therefore just "their thing" but it seems that Emerson gets a pull towards all the guys now(?) So she spends half the book coming to terms with the fact that she has this physical connection with Michael, coming to terms with the fact that it may be more than that, that she likes him, and then suddenly (there was never a better use of the word 'suddenly') she also likes his best friend. From one day to the other (no joke). And the guy who is supposed to be a party-guy, sees her and, again after the first day they meet, he says "he could be falling in love with her". DOUBLE YUCK. I'm serious he said that.
Oh and don't get me started with the fact that EVERY TIME, and I mean, EVERY TIME, Em and Kaleb were doing that weird, pull-towards-each-other-random-insta-love-thing, Michael walks in on them. And I mean EVERY TIME. Not just once. EVERY TIME. UGH. I hate when the main character is put in that situation, in which the good looking guys for some reason have to fight for her affections. And Kaleb who we are told is Michael's best friend (I'm repeating this cause I can't seem to get my head around it) couldn't seem to care less about the fact that there's something going on between them, he actually tells her (i'm not joking!!) "don't forget you have choices".
OH MY GOD.

I hate love triangles, did I mention that? How unnecessary are they? I haven't read a single book where I was like, 'ok this one makes sense'. Because this is what they do, they completely ruin characters that would otherwise be likable.
Now Kaleb just seems like a selfish guy, who was introduced as a party boy but who randomly might-fall-in-love with a girl he saw ONCE or TWICE. Emerson went from strong heroine to "oh my god two guys are fighting for me and I don't know what to do" type of situation, that just takes all the "strong female" description we had of her and throws it out the window. Please, I'm not saying that I forbid the characters to have moments of doubt about what they want, but that's ok after a certain development, not just randomly out of the blue.

And the love triangle disease just kept getting worse as the book progressed, at the end (view spoiler)

In conclusion, the book had potential until about halfway through, and then I started getting annoyed with everything about it: how bad the plot was being handled, how annoying the characters were being, how boring the last revelation was, etc. Around the time when the love triangle started the other characters got completely neglected, like Em's best friend who we learn has a gift and then we never hear from her again... I predicted who one of the "bad guys" was pretty early on. I liked the whole gang with time bending abilities, unfortunately we didn't get to see much of them, apparently the author thought it was more interesting to have Michael walk in on Emerson and Kaleb's 'moments' FIVE times than to develop the friendships and abilities within the group. I would have liked for Emerson and Michael's relationship to be developed more substantially, them really getting to know each other, their abilities and their connection, there was a lot of potential there, but it was wasted.

So in the end I wasn't impressed with The Hourglass. I rolled my eyes way too many times for me to give it more than two stars. I haven't completely decided if I'll be picking up the next book in the series, but probably not.
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