Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Hourglass Door

Mangum, Lisa. 2009. The Hourglass Door. Shadow Mountain. 416 pages.

It is the counting that saves him.

I love how this one starts. The prologue is intense, but in a good way. Full of promise. I'm not sure I can say it lives up to the prologue. Don't get me wrong, I really really enjoyed elements of The Hourglass Door. The last hundred (maybe hundred and fifty) pages were good. But in a four hundred page book, I wanted all of it to be good. I wanted to care about the characters sooner. I wanted to be swept up and away earlier. The heroine of this one is seventeen year old, Abby, (Abigail Beatrice). And Abby's life is fairly uninteresting. She has a drab-of-a-boyfriend, Jason, who lives across the street. He's perfect in that mundane, monotone way. (I think even the most novice of readers can guess by the second chapter that Jason is going to be history. Not that she breaks up with him then, but all the signs are there. His fate is sealed and he's clueless.) She's got a best friend, Valerie, who is mostly underdeveloped and more than a little annoying. But what saves Abby's life from being so helplessly boring is her connection with a new boy, a new "exchange" student named Dante. Dante whom we first met in the prologue is both Italian and mysterious. He disappears half the time. But when they're in the same room together--Abby is so feeling him--an awareness of his presence, the desire to know him better, to find out what makes him different. She doesn't know what it is about him, why it's so intense, but she knows that she is thinking about him way more than she know, since she has a perfectly fine boyfriend, Jason.

Abby is assistant director of her school play, Much Ado about Nothing. Jason is on the stage crew, one of the builders of the sets. Dante is an extra who is anything but extra (he's so "essential" to her though they've just met.). The novel is set in the winter and spring of her senior year of high school. And for the parts set in high school, well, I hate to say this. But I had trouble caring. Is that awful of me? I knew Dante was the guy from the prologue. And I knew that eventually he'd make a big reveal about who he was and spill all his secrets in an oh-so-dramatic way that would make Abby swoon. And I cared enough about wanting to know Dante's secrets that I stayed with it. But quite honestly, until the climax starts really building there towards the end, I was bored with all the high school drama. All of the elements that grounded it in "realistic fiction" were boring. All of the elements that taunted me with it being fantasy kept me going. I wanted the fantasy. So as soon as Abby's reality begins shattering and splintering, once the good stuff starts happening, then I was there, I cared.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
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Chris 4:56 PM  

Well I'm glad to hear that it ended well, but I was hoping it would be even better! I'll still read it for sure though. Guess what? I'm about to start Marcelo!!!

Nise' 5:30 PM  

Congrats on winning a mini challenge. Hope you are feeling better as the day goes on.

Jessica 6:02 PM  

Congrats on finishing another book! This one sounds interesting; I like all of the literary allusion that seems to be present. (And I'm so impressed that you are posting reviews of read-a-thon books.)

If I do the read-a-thon in October, I'm going to be sure and get a book buddy beforehand.

Anonymous,  6:08 PM  

Thanks for the review! I hope you are feeling better, and glad you have your book buddy to make you feel more comfortable - and am curious, what is next? L.

Susan 1:40 AM  

I just read this one, too, and wasn't too impressed. I thought the characters and a lot of the plot was boring. I felt bad dissing it - glad I'm not the only one who found it disappointing.

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I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

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I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

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