For What It's Worth

Thursday, May 19, 2011

ARC Review: Hourglass by Myra McEntiire

Hourglass One hour to rewrite the past . . .
For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn’t there: swooning Southern Belles; 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 tried everything, 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 have happened?
Full of atmosphere, mystery, and romance, Hourglass merges the very best of the paranormal and science-fiction genres in a seductive, remarkable young adult debut. (YA)
It's not too often that I'm surprised by a book, but Hourglass did just that. Pleasantly so.
I admit that I was initially intrigued purely by the cover and title. I've been burned by that rational when reading many times so I usually guard against such things but that cover kept calling to me. The ARC popped up as a selection on Amazon Vine - I caved and picked it for review. 
The summary led me to believe that Emerson sees dead people. Not so much. This is a time slip/romance novel. Something I usually don't enjoy. I find that this premise is used mainly to manipulate the characters and the plot making for an anything goes - nothing is real - type of story. Not with Hourglass. McEntire has laid out a very well planned mythology for this time travel series. 
Emerson starts seeing what she believes to be ghosts shortly before her parents death in a horrific car accident. Since their death, she has been sent to a mental institution where they basically drugged her into a stupor and then to a boarding school. After a while, Em doesn't stop seeing these "ghosts" but she does become better at hiding the fact so she can appear normal. She has lost all but one friend, Lily, after her public displays of craziness.
After losing a scholarship to the boarding school she goes home to live with her brother Thomas and his wife Dru. Her brother has tried to find help for her with various experts, but mostly they are quacks. Em takes this in stride to pacify her brother because he means well and gives him one more shot when Thomas mentions a boy named Michael who belongs to an organization called the Hourglass. After meeting Michael everything changes for Em. Michael gets it. He truly believes her and he may have the answers she's been looking for.

There are so many things to love about this book. Myra McEntire takes the basic premise of most YA books out there and then spins her story in a way that overcomes all the annoyances that I have been having of late with this genre. There is just so much to like I don't know where to start. How about here....

Family: For one, their present. When Em has to go live with her brother and his wife, she of course has the natural feelings of intruding, feeling like a third wheel. What's different about Hourglass is she's not. Both Thomas and Dru are involved parental figures. They provide love, structure and understanding. It is such a rare occurrence in YA these days that I wanted to yell out "see it CAN be done"!! Emerson has her rebellious moments as any teenager would but Thomas is not some clueless overprotective dork. He acts as a guardian, fair but firm. Again - I can't even tell you how much this particular aspect of the story impressed me.

Friends: Friendships were very important to all the characters in Hourglass, which I loved. They weren't disregarded when things got tough or used as a convenience when facts had to be revealed or when a plot twist was needed.

World building: As I pointed out earlier, time travel isn't used as an excuse to contort the plot. It drives everything forward rather than hindering it. Besides the time travel element, the Hourglass organization consists of other people with gifts like Emerson. Think X-Men. You can use your power for good or be persuaded to the dark side. 

Insta love: Hate it. Michael and Emerson have it. We find out that Em is not seeing ghosts but can time travel into the past. Michael has the gift of traveling to the future. Together they can do both. There are very few matches like this and they feel an instant electricity and attraction when they meet. BUT - where Hourglass impressed me is that Em and Michael know it's insta love and they question it!! They want to be sure they know each other as people. Sure, it's hard to fight that type of attraction but I give them an "A" for effort.

Dum dum dum - Love triangle: Hate them more than the insta love….lol This is not a big plot point in Hourglass but there is an element of a triangle (or maybe even a quadrangle) but it was handled really well IMO. Two very nice guys….and while Em was impressed by looks, (and believe me you will be too - hoo-boy - these guys were off the charts!) she definitely wasn't some hormonal chick going back and forth from guy to guy leading everyone on. (personally, I would like to see Kaleb with a certain best friend….)

Villain: The bad guy was BAD! He could really hurt Emerson and everyone else! The author underplayed him early on so when he is revealed the impact was greater.

Can't leave without describing the boys……..holy crap! I am not even kidding when I say there are some seriously swoon worthy boys in Hourglass. If you're not drooling over Michael right off the bat then you may need to be checked out by a Dr. He is wonderful and kind, sexy, protective, and self sacrificing. Then we have Kaleb - he's got the sexy bad boy with a heart of gold thing covered!

It wasn't until I finished Hourglass that I realized I didn't really learn much about the Hourglass foundation but it was ok. Since this is the first book in a trilogy, the ground work had to be laid, characters introduced. Myra did an awesome job.

If I have one complaint it would be about 2/3 through the story lagged a bit for me as it delved more into teenage angst and misunderstandings as Em and Michael worked through their feelings for each other. Em tended to run away whenever things got uncomfortable and Michael danced around a few issues. I was ready for some action! Just a minor blip in an otherwise great story. 

Rating: 3.5 out of 4 Hourglass is a story with fantastic characters - both main and supporting with plenty of room for future development. There is excellent world building and enough twist and turns to keep you guessing. I thought I knew what was happening but I was never quite right in my guesses. Add in a realistic protagonist who doesn't whine about her abilities and you have yourself a winner!

Twitter: @MyraMcEntire
Buy the book! Hourglass
Publisher: EgmontUSA


  1. Your review does make Hourglass sound a lot more interesting than its blurb, but - I don't know - I'm still not sold. I think it's the whole secret organisation thing that puts me off, since it just makes me think of Prison Break, lol. I'll definitely add this to the maybe list, though! :)

  2. I agree with this review and this book is so much better than the blurb. Family & friends and time slip. My review is coming too. But I loved it too.

  3. Really entertaining review, thanks! I definitely want to read this-soooo jealous that you got an ARC!

  4. Sounds good, and the over is just so strange and cool :D

  5. Fantastic review! I have to read this book. I have to admit I am often a sucker for a beautiful cover so I'd glad to hear that this book has some substance to back that cover up!

  6. Ha! I've been burned by covers before too. Not fun.

    Well, you had me convinced that I should give this one a try when you mentioned that Em and Michael question their insta love, but then you mentioned HAWT boys and something about hearts of gold, but how cares about that when there are HAWT boys!

  7. Geeeeeeez. This one sounds like a winner!

  8. I have heard such wonderful things about this and your review has completely convinced me that I need to put this on my tbr. Thanks! :D

  9. Woo-hoo! I skimmed your review bc I am reading this book just this very second, but what I am struck by is that it SURPRISED you. I feel like releasing pigeons or balloons into the air. This is an event worth celebrating!

  10. It seems like a lot of bloggers are surprised by this novel, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  11. Awesome review! I've been seeing this one around and didn't really sound like something I would pick up, but your review convinced me. :) I didn't know it was about time travel! Very cool.