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.
OPINION: 5 STARS
The Short Version:
Intricate, engaging and gripping, Hourglass is a whirlwind of a book that blends a brilliant story line, romance, and fantastic characterization in a phenomenal way. With a very likable, sassy protagonist, smooth world building, and more than one hot boy to boot, McEntire pulls out all the great aspects of a book. The innumerable unexpected twists keep the reader on their toes, and the overall impact of this book is potent and mind blowing. Flawlessly handled from start to finish, Hourglass is a stunning and striking debut that is a must read.
The Extended Version:
Emerson is most definitely a new favorite female protagonist of mine, sassy to the end and full of sarcastic wit and banter, but still holds a vulnerable and soft side. The back and forth with this girl is so fantastically handled, making her multidimensional and very relatable. From the full description of her past to her beautifully done relationship with her older brother, who is also her legal guardian, Emerson has plenty of great aspects about her character. Her ability to see ghosts is fully fleshed out by the end of the book, and it’s impact on her life is clear, heartbreaking at times, and enjoyable at others. I truly loved watching this girl grow from start to finish, and her internal strength is astounding.
Michael is downright delectable, charming and funny and though he holds secrets of his own, McEntire doesn’t lord them over the reader just to keep the pages turning. Rather, much of him is revealed rather early, at a steady and easy pace, with other things coming as the story progresses that is a direct response to the story events rather than just an idea of this should be told now. Though incredibly hot, Emerson doesn’t dwell only on that which is refreshing and made me like the girl more, while still appreciating Michael as a whole. He is loyal and intense, and though he has some less than stellar moments, he is, overall, a strong opposite to Emerson.
Thomas, Emerson’s brother, is very worth noting, and I loved the relationship between them. Not quite sibling, and not quite parent/child, but a blend in between that is something all their own. Their love for each other is clear, and the interactions between them gorgeously done. Add in Thomas’s wife, Dru, and it’s a perfect little broken family that can rival any other “normal” family. Thomas and Dru both have strong roles throughout, and a lingering presence that builds them. Fleshing out this well done cast of characters is Emerson’s best friend, Lily, who has the snark to match Emerson, and other people brought in from Michael’s character. Kaleb is especially memorable, completely hot, suave, and swoonworthy while still holding this huge closed off side to him that is a pleasure to crack and learn about. Kaleb very well might be my favorite character in this book and I absolutely cannot wait for more from him.
The plot itself is as shining and memorable as the fantastically done characters. Taking a concept that is so in depth it’s near impossible to simply describe, McEntire has created an entire world all her own. Though it may pull in some angles and concepts that can be compared to other books and movies, I would be hardpressed to find someone who could think this book is in any way a rip off. This entire plot is mind blowing and action packed, with so many unexpected twists along the way. The last third of the book, if not more than that, is an extended, gripping climax that is impossible to walk away from. Even with the packed last third, nothing felt rushed or out of place, and the build up to it had an easy flow with something new always being unfolded to keep reader interest. From literally laughing out loud to yelling to gasping, this book holds the range of emotions and responses right up to the last page.
Rounding out this book is the fact that everything directly related to this plot is tied up. Though some things remain unanswered, it isn’t a massive cliffhanger ending, and the final outcome isn’t known until it happens. From mortal peril to romance, McEntire does everything, and does it beautifully. The writing is fantastic, having a very clear voice and something that is distinct to the author, while still clearly not being just the author’s own views and voice. The reader will get a strong feel for Emerson, from her hilarious thoughts and asides to the full depth of her emotion, as well as plenty of depth and insights into the other characters. The descriptions most certainly build the world and places, giving just enough to get the reader’s mind going before easily letting things fill in for the reader rather than giving every single small detail.
Completely mindblowing, and playing on a premise that will send the reader’s mind spiraling and running in circles, Hourglass puts a sparkling spin on some known concepts. This one hits a homerun across the board, from writing to characters to execution. With even the smallest things addressed, and perfectly blending the romance with everything else, neither one washing out the other or playing too heavy a role, McEntire has most definitely shown her innate talent and skill and I cannot wait for more from her.
Source: ARC received from author/publisher in exchange for an honest review
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publication Date: June 14, 2011