It’s an exciting time in YA fiction; in fact, it has been for a long time. Blockbuster series have been rolling in with beautiful regularity and increasing frequency, from the original powerhouses HARRY POTTER, TWILIGHT, and THE HUNGER GAMES, to a new wave of thrilling sequences, including THE MAZE RUNNER (James Dashner), MATCHED (Ally Condie), DIVERGENT (Veronica Roth), and DELIRIUM (Lauren Oliver).
To that illustrious list we can now add a new time-twisting teen series in the form of HOURGLASS, by Myra McEntire. This extraordinarily accomplished first novel is, wonderfully, a more-than-worthy addition to this new, conceptually thrilling, thrill-seeking school of YA.
Not only is the narrative powerful, sneaky and full of reversals & shocking twists, powered as it is by a mind-bending conceptual heartbeat, but the novel as a whole is beautifully, poetically rendered. Achingly so.
On its surface, HOURGLASS is a love story, a Southern romance. But this is a novel that is all about what lies beneath and beyond those beautiful, shimmering, flowing surfaces: broken lives, sadness, darkness, loss… and life-changing passion and desire.
Emerson is a struggling teen, still coming to terms with the deaths of her parents, and the fact that she’s pestered by persistent hallucinations of people from the distant past (Scarlett O’Hara types, this being the South and all). The visions are getting worse, and so her brother Thomas reaches out to the Hourglass, a mysterious organization who claim to be able to help with the strange experiences Emerson is enduring.
Which is where Michael comes in.
Just older than Emerson, he represents the Hourglass. As Michael gets Emerson to talk about her past, and the people that she sees, the novel shifts gears. The easy rhythm of small town life gives way to electrifying chemistry and stunning revelations. HOURGLASS becomes a full-blown time-travel mind-bender of a book. With all its lovely and elegantly timey-wimey stylings, it’s like McEntire has taken a sonic screwdriver to the Southern romance genre and juiced it up into a starkly emotional and reality-bending tale.
As the book plunges deeper into layer after narrative layer, we get drawn into the maelstrom of Emerson’s world, which is gorgeously, unflinchingly drawn. As more characters are revealed, the plot deepens, and the scope and implication of the time-rips that Emerson experiences gets wider.
HOURGLASS is elegantly powerful and fearsomely page-turning. Fortunately, it’s just the beginning: McEntire announced today that the title of book two is TIMEPIECE. As if that wasn’t enough, McEntire also just unveiled a deleted scene (containing possible spoilers) on her blog. It’s an alternate take from a key character’s perspective, which is not only illuminating, but also reveals just how many awesome secrets and revelations are lurking for the rest of the series.
Making it even harder to wait for book two.
So, yeah; a time machine would be useful right about now!
Five out of five TARDISes