TEMPEST (Tempest #1)
by Julie Cross
PUBLISHER: MacMillan Children’s books
RELEASE DATE: 5 January 2012
FORMAT: Advance Reader Copy, 432 pages
GENRE: Paranormal, Young Adult
The year is 2009. Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies – nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors – it’s just harmless fun. That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps.
Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future. Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities. But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler. Recruit… or kill him. Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he’s willing to go to save Holly… and possibly the entire world. (Goodreads)
The story opens with the diary of the time travelling teenager, Jackson Meyer. Jackson has the dream life, he’s rich, he’s highly intelligent, he has a gorgeous girlfriend, he has a major computer geek for a best friend, oh yeah and he can travel through time. He only recently discovered his talent and can’t travel very far or outside his normal life span. The only one that knows he is a time traveller is his best friend, the computer geek, Adam. He starts out experimenting and recording his experiences in his journal and its through Jackson’s journal that Cross starts and finishes her story.
Everything goes wrong for Jackson when strange men appear out of the blue for him and his girlfriend Holly ends up with a fatal gunshot wound. Rather than watch her die Jackson travels back in time to try to fix what has happened and save Holly. Jackson soon finds himself two years in the past and he can’t jump back to his real timeline in 2009. He does travel back into his past and Cross uses these scenes to give Jackson’s background. In the process of trying to change the timeline he discovers everything he has ever known about his life has been a construct and built on lies.
I started out quite liking this book but the plot turned a little cloying and confusing. I liked the fact that Cross chose to write Jackson and his friends like normal teenagers, they drank, had sex and disobeyed their parents. In YA, teenagers are usually portrayed as being uncharacteristically good and it was refreshing that Cross chose to have her characters act fairly normal. Halfway through the story it seemed that Cross decided to add the ‘adult’ into YA and all of a sudden the story turned more into a romance and Jackson was written as a much more mature character.
Jackson goes back in time to try to save Holly and in this process he is introduced to the EOTs (Enemies of Time) who were responsible for shooting Holly in 2009. It wasn’t clear to me why the EOTs were the enemies as they didn’t act anymore evil than the alleged good guys nor did I really understand what their evil end game was. By the end of the book Jackson is battling and killing the EOTs like he has trained all his life and I was expecting him to travel back in time to acquire these skills and heroism but this wasn’t the case, confusing me further.
Cross makes the big mistake of changing the laws of time travel in TEMPEST. Everyone knows that Star Trek wrote the book on time travel and you don’t mess with the rules. Several episodes in Star Trek were dedicated to how you could irrevocably change the future by travelling back in time and changing some of the simplest things like who you spoke to or the direction you took on your way home from work. Cross chose to create her own rules as the time travellers in TEMPEST couldn’t change the future by changing actions or events in the past. In Cross’s reality the time traveller creates an alternate timeline when they make a jump in time and can continue to live on that timeline but they can’t reliably travel between the them. I thought this explanation was overtly confusing and it didn’t convince me that it was a reliable alternative to the traditional theory that changing past events create a new future. It also seems that by the end of the book that Cross changes her mind and has Jackson go back in time to change future events which was inconsistent with the rest of the plot. Time travelling is a tricky plot device and without a lot of planning it can quickly unravel and ends up being contradictory and confusing. I did have to applaud Cross for trying something so complex with her first book but it was unfortunate, there wasn’t more planning with the plot to avoid confusing the reader.
While elements of TEMPEST were weak and suffered slightly from Cross being too self referential with Holly, the plot was an ambitious undertaking for a new writer. My enjoyment in the early chapters carried me through to the end and Cross made a good effort to keep the reader engaged with a fast pace even if this sacrificed consistency in the plot.
Despite the good start I felt let down partway through TEMPEST. The development of the EOTs as the antagonists was weak, as was the explanation of time traveling. Cross portrayed Jackson as the typical teenager at the start of the novel but by the end he was acting far more mature and self sacrificing than what would be expected in the plot. I was surprised to read that there is plan to turn TEMPEST into a movie and it was described as a cross between the Twilight series and The Hunger Games. TEMPEST does not have the forbidden love affair elements as in the Twilight series nor the true suspense and intrigue as The Hunger Games. Also, the diary format to deliver context and plot may not translate to the big screen. I am hoping that this was her first novel that Cross will be able to pull the plot together to deliver a more cohesive story and strong characters for the rest of the series.
BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER
0.5.Tomorrow is Today
2. Vortex (2013)
BUY THE BOOK