Emerson Cole’s life has become increasingly complicated since her parents’ death. She sees ghostlike apparitions that pop in front of her eyes when she touches them. More than anything, Emerson wants to be normal: she wants to stop seeing these long-lost people, and she wants to get through high school relatively unscathed. But Emerson isn’t normal, and when her brother hires a consultant from a secret organization called the Hourglass, Emerson’s world gets even messier. Michael Weaver is handsome, mysterious, and totally off-limits. But the two are tied together in ways that Emerson can’t even comprehend.
Readers, I must provide a foreword to this review: Hourglass let me down. This is probably my own fault. Before reading the book, I was under the impression that it was a book containing magical realism. For some reason, inside my head, this book was tied loosely to Nova Ren Suma’s excellent Imaginary Girls. I have no clear understanding of why this was the case, but there it is. Hourglass is nothing like Imaginary Girls in any way. This book is much more paranormal romance than anything else. Unfortunately, that romance left me absolutely cold. Here we go.
There are no shortage of positive reviews out there for McEntire’s debut novel. There’s obviously a readership for this novel (and for its future installments, as I believe that this is–wait for it–book one in a planned trilogy). However, McEntire’s novel suffers from a great many things that made it almost painful to get through: slow pacing (worsened by a less-than-compelling central problem), poor characterization, and an overall blandness that fails to distinguish it from other paranormal titles.
For a book that clocks in at nearly 400 pages, McEntire sure takes her sweet time getting to the meat of the story. The pacing is slow–uneven at best–and by the time the book gets to its climax, I was so bored by the story and its characters that I could hardly be bothered to care. It seems as though McEntire struggled to find a central problem for her characters, because by the time Emerson is finally let in on the secrets of the Hourglass and why she’s needed, readers are almost halfway through the book with nothing to show for it. When the big reveal is finally, um, revealed, I couldn’t help but exclaim, “That’s it?”
That isn’t it, though. In addition to a lackluster plot, McEntire’s characters fall totally flat. Emerson is boring, exhibiting no real interests or hobbies. Her instant and immediate attraction and connection to Michael was more irritating than intriguing. The two had little chemistry (despite McEntire’s repeated attempts to create chemistry–sometimes almost literally). Comparisons to Twilight can’t be avoided as the two engage in a boring, predictable pull-apart, push-together dance that features a lot of angst.
Despite McEntire’s attempts to engage in some pretty serious genre-blending, the book never lives up to its premise–or its promise. The science fiction elements don’t mesh well with the paranormal elements. The time travel subplot feels completely out of place. The romance threatens to overtake the story as a whole, and because none of it is particularly interesting, the result is a big, bloated, boring mess.
Give this one a pass, you guys. I’m sorry to say it–and it might work for some readers, but unless that reader is a die-hard paranormal romance fan, there’s just a lot of other stuff out there that could be read first.
Hourglass by Myra McEntire. Edgmont USA: 2011. Library copy.