First Lines: I stare at the drain in the center of the concrete floor. It was the first thing I saw when they locked me in this cell, and I’ve barely looked away since.
This was a book I would see all the time at the library. It seemed to be staring at me. And I wanted to read it, but I was a little concerned about the time travel aspects I knew would be in it. Time travel hurts my head, trying to make sense of it. But a good time travel book is amazing. So I caved and tried it.
Because I’m busy and the Goodreads synopsis sums it up so well, I’m just gonna copy that:
What would you change?
Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.
Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.
Marina has loved her best friend, James, since they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it… at least, not as the girl she once was. Em and Marina are in a race against time that only one of them can win.
The first thing I’ll say is the time travel science in this looked legit. But take that with a grain of salt. This is coming from an English teacher who probably couldn’t help her 7th grade students with their science homework. (Oddly enough, The Big Bang Theory is my favorite show and I generally get what they’re saying there.) The science made my brain hurt just trying to piece it all together. Maybe for someone who really likes science, this makes more sense and is thus way more exciting.
I really liked the characters of Em and Finn. Finn was the guy who tries to break the tension by cracking jokes at the most inappropriate times. (I am that person, so I liked that.) Em feels like she has the weight of the world on her shoulders and she wrestles with coming to grips with what she can and can’t change. I thought both of them felt very realistic and relatable.
I thought the story was very cleverly written, which it had to be. With all the time travel going on, there were occasionally times when people of the same name were in the same scene. And as the reader, I knew which one was which. That was super important. And the story was always switching from being told by Em to Marina. It was done expertly, in a way that increased the suspense without losing any of the action.
With all the time travel going on, I thought it could have easily become a great confusing ball of bleh. So I just want to give the author kudos for pulling off something that was exciting, riveting, and completely heartfelt. Basically everything you could want from a story was here: action, mystery, suspense, love, friendship.
This was a really good book. I enjoyed this a lot.