Saturday, October 12, 2013

Book Review: Endless by Amanda Gray

Note: I received this book as an e-ARC from Month9Books on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Amazon | Goodreads

Published: October 8, 2013

 Genre: YA / Fantasy / Time Travel / Contemporary / Historical / Romance
 
Gosh, isn't that a beautiful cover? A bit misleading though, now that I've read the story...

From Amazon: 

Jenny Kramer knows she isn't normal. After all, not everybody can see the past lives of people around them. When she befriends Ben Daulton, resident new boy, the pair stumble on an old music box with instructions for “mesmerization” and discover they may have more in common than they thought. Like a past life. 

Using the instructions in the music box, Ben and Jenny share a dream that transports them to Romanov Russia and leads them to believe they have been there together before. But they weren't alone. Nikolai, the mysterious young man Jenny has been seeing in her own dreams was there, too. When Nikolai appears next door, Jenny is forced to acknowledge that he has travelled through time and space to find her. Doing so means he has defied the laws of time, and the Order, an ominous organization tasked with keeping people in the correct time, is determined to send him back.

While Ben, Jenny and Nikolai race against the clock - and the Order - Jenny and Nikolai discover a link that joins them in life - and beyond death.
 
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What the description of the book doesn't really say is that, in addition to time travel, reincarnation is a big part of the story. What if your boyfriend from a past life showed up on your doorstep as his non-reincarnated self?
What I liked:
  • Jenny thinks like a detective - She's smart, like a Sherlock in training.Okay, maybe not that quick, but she has a logical mind.
  • A believable friendship with Ben - He starts off as a cranky and angsty teen. But then he and Jenny eventually develop a realistic friendship/relationship. He's that way for a reason: he's worried about his abusive dad coming home from jail, because his dad almost killed his mom the last time they were all under one roof.

    Ben is an example of a good person who fails the first impressions test. I thought his character was complex and easy to relate to. 
  • It feels like the 21st century - I'm not speaking of Romanov Russia, of course. Jenny uses the tools of our time, such as the Internet and a cell phone to conduct her investigations into the history of the music box and the creepy presence of the monks in town. The Internet doesn't always show up in books so I'm glad when it does happen. Jenny doesn't have a Facebook account, but I'll let it pass this time. :P
  • The mystery of Jenny's mom - Jenny's mom is dead, but that isn't all there is to it. ;)
  • The Order: Maintaining the rules of time travel: I really liked this concept. The Order is like the Volturi of time travel and reincarnation. Sure, magical time traveling via music box is a bit cheesy. But there are rules. Time traveling is forbidden for normal people, otherwise reckless visitors might wreak havoc on the timeline.

    The Order operates like our Homeland Security by deporting people who sneak into another time, and if they have to do it by force, then your soul will imprisoned and unable to reincarnate.
What I Didn't Like: Overall, too many long explanations when they could be shown in an actual scene.
  • Slow pacing / Too much sitting around - I love Jenny's inquisitive mind, but she could be solving puzzles on the go instead of just sitting around and thinking all day. With no real deadline given until much later, she and Ben have all the time they need to figure things out. The story doesn't really escalate until 75% of the way through.
  • Too much telling / Lack of conflict - The lack of conflict for most of the book (except for a few select scenes) leaves Jenny a mostly emotionally flat character. She tells me what she feels. But without seeing her react in actual situations, I don't believe her.
  • Insta-Love between Jenny and Nikolai -

    The essence of their love:

    --
    Hey. Didn't we lock lips in your past life?

    --Why, yes we did!

    --YOU ARE MINE. YOU ARE MINE FOREVER.

    I don't care that they are soulmates. Even soulmates experience conflicts with each other. The relationship between Jenny and Nikolai is too easy. Jenny keeps insisting that she finally feels complete now that she's met Nikolai, but I don't believe her. Their intimate scenes are supposed to be sweet but come off as awkward because they have zero chemistry together. Ew.
  • Wait, so what happened to Ben? - Ben and Jenny develop this friendship/relationship in the first half of the book. After Nikolai comes along, Jenny pretty much forgets about Ben. I imagine him sulking at home on the Internet. He does come back in the end. But Poor Ben.
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I wanted to like this book. I felt that this book has a lot of potential to be great - the rules of time traveling, magic, and reincarnation are well constructed, and Jenny shares a meaningful friendship with Ben. However, too much of the story relies on explanations when there could be scenes revealing these rules. I want to get to know the characters by observing them in action, not by hearing them talk about themselves. We stay in Jenny's perspective the whole time but it would be more interesting to see it also from Nikolai's point of view, since his character has to explain so much to her. Maybe the insta-love wouldn't feel so forced if we know a little more about him.

My rating: 

Endless by Amanda Gray on:

Thanks for reading! How do you feel about magical time travel?

2 comments:

  1. Gorgeous cover. Nice review.

    THANKS for stopping back to my blog.

    Have a great day!!

    Elizabeth
    Silver's Reviews
    My It's Monday, What Are You Reading

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    1. Thanks! You have a great day too Elizabeth!

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