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Thursday, April 29, 2010

"The Hourglass Door" by Lisa Mangum (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

Visit Lisa Mangum's Official Website Here
Order The Hourglass Door from Amazon Here

The Hourglass Door has caught my eye as a YA romance/time travel novel. It seemed to have a unique twist on the regular romance novels that were coming out in mass quantities. While I was unable to review it in 2009 for it's release I was able to catch it in enough time to prepare for the sequel's release on May 2010.

Overview: Abby is a regular senior in high school. She has to deal with after school activities, a perfect boyfriend, and college applications. Everything in her life seems to be going smoothly and on track. She knows exactly what college she is going to go to, what her and her boyfriend will do every Friday evening, and even how the school play will turn out. Until the unexpected happens.

A mysterious Italian foreign exchange student shows up by the name of Dante Alexander. Abby can't seem to keep her eyes off of him. Every time he turns up her world seems to be turned upside down. Dante is very private and tends to show up at the oddest times. After taking Abby out to breakfast one morning, Abby notices that it appears as if time has completely stopped. For some reason Abby feels as if she is slowly falling in love with Dante, but she is supposed to love her perfect boyfriend that she has known her whole life.

Without realizing it, Abby begins to be pulled into a mystery that she has no idea about. One that involves time traveling, a door that is used to punish criminals, and a group of 16th century time travelers that are looking to change the course of time.

Format: The Hourglass Door is the first novel in a series of YA romance novels. It is available in both hardback and paperback form from Shadow Mountain Press. It stands at 398 pages and is told in the first person style from the point of view of Abby. There are a few plot threads that are not wrapped up and will keep readers waiting for the sequel.

Analysis: When I saw The Hourglass Door had very similar thoughts that are probably going through you're mind. "Oh no not another YA romance novel. Isn't there already thousands of novels out there?". The answer is yes. However, this novel while a YA romance stands out from the other YA novels that are in the same genre. The Hourglass Door is unique, fast paced, and entertaining.

There are two major strengths of this novel that make it stand out from the other YA novels that I have read like this: Characterization, the unique aspect of the plot, and the captivating nature of Lisa Mangum's writing.

The character portrayals and relationships amongst the teens were realistic. Abby and her boyfriend start out with a perfect relationship or what is believed to be a perfect relationship but it slowly starts to fall apart. Abby doesn't jump up and run off with the mystery man or anything non-realistic like that. The hardest problem I have with most YA romance novels is how quickly things happen and in The Hourglass Door things happen in what I believe as realistic time.

This going along with realistic characters but the thing that I noticed was that, although the parents were invisible. There were still rules, boundaries, and curfews. It really gets me when all these teens (15-16 year olds) are sharing beds with unknown guys and the parents just seem in another world. Along with bed sharing is the fact that sometimes these teens are out till 4 am and the parents are just walking around like nothing is different. I really liked this little added area to the novel.

The other area that sets this novel out is the unique plot. While not super unique it does have a few twists and turns that were a bit surprising. There is a bit of time traveling (or the idea of time traveling) involved in the plot. There is also a major pending doom that might happen but isn't explored too much in this novel. There is definitely a lot of potential for this series as this is a great starting point for it.

Lisa Mangum's writing is very captivating. It's not non-stop action but there was enough to keep me wanting to read further and further to see what is going on. There is mystery added to the plot but not so much that it left me completely in the dark. I was constantly trying to read more and more and not wanting to put the book down.

As with all novels there are a few weaknesses.

First is the time traveling aspect. While I understood the whole traveling to the river area and what it involved. I had a hard time following what was involved with the aspect of the door and time traveling. It's hard to describe without spoiling the book but the door aspect and some of the mechanisms involved with the door confused me.

Another aspect that was a bit frustrating was the amount of time spent on the play. While I found this a quick read, there was a lot of time spent on Abby's play Much Ado About Nothing. It felt like one third of the novel was devoted to this play and I just wasn't that into this part of the book. It just didn't seem to fit into the novel and when there was a lot of time devoted to the play it almost made this quick book seem to lag.

Overall if one is looking for a YA romance/supernaturally novel that doesn't involve the werewolves or vampire craze that is going on lately. Lisa Mangum has a lot of potential as a writer and creates a captivating and unique story that will keep readers wanting the sequel.


Charlotte said...

This one has been on my list since 2009 too! Thanks for the heads up about the sequel--I will now try to read it sooner rather than later...

Okie said...

I read this book a month or two ago (the river of time has me confused *grin*) and really enjoyed it...which is saying something since (1) I'm a guy and (2) I don't usually get into YA Romance books.

I agree that the writing was solid and the characters were realistic in the truest sense of the the fact that this is "real life" and not some fast paced teenage soap opera.

The time travel aspect was intriguing and, while I was left a little uneasy by some of the way it came together, I really liked it and look forward to seeing where this series goes.

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