What? you say. Another time traveling novel? Haven’t we seen every permutation of that idea there is? Possibly, but it still makes great drama. That’s a little like thinking- hey, another love story – didn’t Romeo & Juliet cover that? Rysa Walker uses the time traveling plot device to propel us into a compelling story of power, love, loss and broken, complex relationships. Our teenage protagonist, Kate, finds herself caught up in a world of gifted time travelers using this über cool Chronos Key which can be controlled by your eyes. One of the real benefits of the time traveling is that it allows you to become immersed in history (or play with future predictions). This is used with particular effectiveness here. Ms. Walker is a historian (and a fellow Caryite, who knew?) and does a marvelous job bringing 1893 Chicago and The World’s Columbian Exposition (AKA World’s Fair) to life. She was even able to bring in the nefarious H. H. Holme’s, the first documented serial killer in America and the murders he committed during the World’s Fair (see Erik Larson‘s The Devil in the White City for all of the seedy details of this sick man).
I ran into Timebound through a bit of Amazonian serendipity; Timebound was part of the Kindle First program (another great feature of being Kindle Prime – each month, you have a choice among 4 not-yet-published books on Kindle to own at no additional cost). Both the cover and the premise took my fancy. I’m glad they did.
This fun, rewarding read revolves around a family, many of whom can operate these time keys. One of them abuses this ability to use his knowledge of events to come (when traveling to the pass) to become wealthy and to manipulate events so that he can gain power. Kate & her grandmother try to stop him with the help of others. Of course, Kate will need to work with her younger grandmother (awkward) with the help of some friends (including current and erstwhile boyfriends, yup, more awkwardness). As you can imagine with family and friends, the relationships become quite complex between current, future and alternate timeline ties that bind.
What were some of the things I loved about Timebound?
- Pacing: Ms. Walker’s ability to keep the pressure on an across-time hunt whilst building budding relationships amongst family members and potential suitors all the while giving enough descriptive detail to make it feel like we visited the 1893 World’s Fair is nothing short of astonishing. Absolutely dead on.
- Relationships: Relationships are tricky enough; messing with earlier, future and alternative timeline selves is even trickier. Kate had a challenging enough situation with divorced parents, her mother estranged from her grandmother and the normal challenges of being a teen. Adding on the time element simply explodes those challenges exponentially. I can’t imagine how Ms. Walker kept all of it straight while meshing them into to the plot elements.
- History: How cool would it be to travel back in time to well known events? Well, unless you have your own time traveling mechanism, Timebound would probably be your best bet to do so. Ms. Walker is a historian and that really comes out in the details of the World’s Fair scenes. It’s not so detailed that you feel like you’re reading a history text book but gives enough hints, descriptions and dialog to provide great feel for the time.
- Ending: Ms. Walker’s ending was a delight in that she wrapped up the current book with aplomb whilst setting herself up for book two. Good endings are more rare than one would think and I never take them for granted.
What did I not care for in Timebound? There really weren’t any problems. If I had to dig for an issue it would be that Kate’s Dad, Harry and boyfriend, Trey are a little too perfect. These are some seriously patient, understanding guys who’ll stick with you at all costs; Kiernan’s pretty close to sainthood as well. On the one hand, I would say to all teen guys reading this book: emulate Trey (except for the wanting sex prior to marriage part – back off), but on the other hand, that’s a depressingly high standard to measure oneself against. The women come off less well. Kate’s Mom, Deborah, divorces Mr. Perfect and is irritated at her pretty cool, albeit focused and demanding grandmother while said grandmother is, well, pretty focused and demanding. This book may have been a bit more interesting if the guys were a little less perfect but maybe they were just to offset Mr. Holmes’ (America’s Jack-the-Ripper) unabated, cold-blooded evil.
Typically, I flip between the Kindle and Audible versions of books, but I listened to the whole audio book since it’s performed by one of my favorite narrators, Kate Rudd. A couple of my other favorite books she’s performed are The Fault in Our Stars and The Mad Scientists Daughter. Her voice is a natural for Kate. I love her Kiernan and actually love the fact the Trey and Harry sound similar. The boys our daughters date should, in part, remind them of the Dad, right? As always, Ms. Rudd’s timing, inflection and clarity are all spot on. I hope that she continues with the series. lf you enjoy audiobooks, I highly commend this version to you.
Timebound was great fun. I’m totally caught up in the Chronos Files now and have already pre-ordered its sequel, Time’s Edge, coming out October 21st.
Timebound @ Amazon: