Limited character development & stereotypical romance disappoint
In Myra McEntire's debut novel, Hourglass, seventeen-year-old Emerson has been haunted with apparitions of people from the past since right before her parents' deaths. When her well-meaning older brother brings in yet another "expert," Emerson expects another failed attempt to help her. Instead, she gets Michael, a gorgeous young man who believes her and thinks the visions are real. When Michael proposes that Emerson can harness her powers - and their electric connection - to change the past, she must decide how much to risk in order to save a life that should never have been lost.
While HOURGLASS had the opportunity to shine due to its time-travel aspect, it fell short for me due to its limited character development, stereotypical romance, and incomplete world building. The writing, while adequate, faltered sometimes due to unrealistic dialogue and the use of some silly metaphors. Constant physical descriptions of the characters, such as Emerson's short height or Michael's pouty lips, stood in for character development. Despite being told repeatedly that Emerson is tough, she spent most of the novel swooning over Michael's beauty instead of being strong or making her own decisions. Michael may appeal to many readers due to his brooding and handsome nature, but his character developed little beyond his physical beauty and his condescending and controlling reactions to Emerson. Outside of their physical attraction and an "electricity" between them, the romance between Emerson and Michael was also never explained. As expected, a love triangle was introduced, though it was never fully explored, which was a relief. Talents or abilities of other characters, like best friend Lily, were also left unexplained and unexplored.
Plot-wise, the time-travel facet could have added a lot to the book but the time-travel process came across as too easily accomplished. Emerson accepted the risks involved without any real doubts or fears to save someone she didn't know; likewise, the utter willingness of other people to believe the time-travel explanation was unbelievable. Even though the villains and twists at the end were a surprise, their appearance and motivations didn't draw me into the story because I knew they were merely set-ups to drive the sequels.
On the positive side, I know there are many people who will enjoy this book for the brooding love interest, the time-slip aspect, and the relatively clean language and sexuality (just a few curse words, kissing, and some innuendo). Emerson was sometimes very likable and sympathetic as a character, and family played a big role in Emerson's problems and how she worked through them. In the coming books, I hope McEntire develops her characters, the romance, and the time-travel mechanics further to create a more compelling story.
Note: This review refers to an advance reader's copy.