Thursday, November 17, 2011

Book Review: Clockwise by Elle Strauss

Author: Elle Strauss
Publisher: ESB Publishing
Paperback: 290 pages
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)
A teenage time traveler accidentally takes her secret crush back in time. Awkward.  
Boy watching with her best friend would be enough excitement for fifteen year old Casey Donovan. She doesn't even mind life at the bottom of the Cambridge High social ladder, if only she didn’t have this other much bigger problem. Unscheduled trips to the nineteenth century!  
When Casey gets talked into going to the Fall Dance, the unthinkable happens--she accidentally takes Nate Mackenzie, the cutest boy in the school, back in time.
Protocol pressures her to tell their 1860 hosts that he is her brother and when Casey finds she has a handsome, wealthy (and unwanted) suitor, something changes in Nate. Are those romantic sparks or is it just ‘brotherly’ protectiveness?  
When they return to the present things go back to the way they were before: Casey at the bottom of the social totem pole and Nate perched on the very the top. Except this time her heart is broken. Plus, her best friend is mad, her parents are split up, and her little brother gets escorted home by the police. The only thing that could make life worse is if, by some strange twist of fate, she took Nate back to the past again.  
Which of course, she does.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

There were two things that made me interested in this book right away: the fact that it's about time travel (my favorite!!!) and Casey's voice. It is written in first-person, and this girl is funny! It's just the right mix of teen-speak, sarcasm, and self-deprecation. I fell in love with her immediately, and the more I read, the more I liked her.

Overall, I liked the story. The characters were interesting, Casey just couldn't seem to keep herself in the right time period, and she's always getting into some sort of trouble in the 1860's. The conflict with Nate was awesome. I definitely enjoyed watching him evolve from cute-jock to genuinely-nice-guy. I didn't think all the family-drama was necessary, however. I would have liked to see some deeper conflict regarding the time-travel thing rather than read about her brother's rebellion problems.

Also, Clockwise didn't really have a climax. I kept waiting for a sort of "final battle" moment to happen -- for one thing to go completely beyond Casey's control, where she'd have to do something amazing to get herself out. Nothing like this happened, even though there were a lot of chances for it to happen. Let's face it, time travel would be insanely complex. Fitting into the era, navigating around the people and the prominent ideas of the time, not to mention the possible ramifications of your actions in the past -- there are many opportunities for things to go wrong. Casey certainly faces some difficulties, but nothing that I would consider climactic.

This also doesn't read like a young adult novel. The characters are a bit too simple for the genre, as is the plot. I would say this is more middle-grade than young adult.

However, these problems didn't prevent me from enjoying the story. While I think it could have been better, Clockwise is still a good read. I was emotionally connected to the characters, the plot was quick and interesting, and I couldn't wait to see what would happen next. I definitely recommend fans of time-travel to check this book out.