This book is genuinely worthy of being called a “romp.” While full of fun scenes (Gemma’s memorable fighting scenes were a wannabe-Katniss’ dream) and studded with swoon-worthy romantic moments, the novel lacked the emotional depth to be anything more than a quick read to waste the afternoon on. The romance was of the sappy, overdone variety that plagues young adult fiction, with the central, ridiculous notion that our two teenage characters (who know nothing about each other) are in love and meant to be together. Parts of it were sweet, but more often than not I was left palming my forehead. This book didn’t leave me with any moral questions or new ideas, although I did spend a considerable amount of time wondering how some of the more comical typos came about. It was pure, thoughtless fun, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Still, readers looking for a text with a bit more intellectual grit should turn their attention elsewhere.
The text read more like an uncorrected proof than a published novel. I appreciate Melissa Pearl’s potential, but her prose fell flat when trying to inspire any feeling in me. Even if a character was on their death bed, Pearl’s characters simply didn’t have the emotional range to illicit more than a yawn in the reader. The plot was exciting (though keep in mind I’ve always been a personal fan of the time travel trope), but the occasional holes in the textual fabric were distracting enough to be irritating. There is little to no exploration of the theory for this kind of time travel, which was a big issue for me. I would’ve liked a little more explanation of the time travel lore/community that Gemma acknowledges in passing. There’s a significant amount of suspension of belief required in this plot, and it might’ve felt more legitimate if it had been more fleshed out. Because, seriously, our main character turns into gold dust and travels back in time at her father’s request? Also, there’s a moment in the dialogue where Harrison knows things about the time travel in Gemma’s family before she mentions them. I’m sure it was just a mistake the editor missed, but it pulled me out of the narrative and made me cringe. By far the most egregious part of the plot, however, was the ending. The book ended with no resolution or even an attempt at a full story line, with such an obvious ploy for a sequel that I was tempted to throw the book across the room in frustration. But, of course, I couldn’t, because I read this on my laptop. And I really like that.
Overall, a three star effort with two star results.