Contemporary Time Travel
'Flicker' by Melanie Hooyenga is a very gripping novel. The concept behind it - that the main character, Biz, has the ability to go back in time eighteen hours if she so chooses - is quite intriguing. Biz's ability, which she refers to as "flickering," has never really been used by her for anything other than reliving good days in her life, doing better on tests she takes, and other reasons in which any teenager might find interest.
With both contemporary and supernatural elements mixed in, 'Flicker' shows how anyone can have abilities beyond the grasp of the average individual. Biz doesn't fully understand why she is able to flicker, but she welcomes it, despite the ravaging headaches she gets as a result. Coupled with her dad's epileptic tendencies and her mother's persistent worry, she always seems to have a lot on her mind, especially if it's happened twice. It was refreshing to see her parents so involved and caring since many parents in young adult novels tend to be pushed to the sidelines. Biz knows that she should be grateful for their insistence on being part of her life, but, just like any average teenager, she does her best to discourage their involvement, mostly by keeping her flickering from them.
It was nice to see a main character in a book enjoy a subject other than English, even though it's always nice when they enjoy literature and writing. Biz's love of photography propels much of the storyline, and her teacher, Mr. Turner, instills even more engagement in her photography skills as the story progresses, which ends up being quite ironic. Between Biz's headaches from her flickering and people's questions as to why she acts the way she does, she finds it hard to know whom she can trust, especially as her photographs begin to raise questions. This makes it hard for her to connect with others as much as she'd like, including her best friends, Amelia and Cameron, the latter of whom grows into more than a friend fairly quickly once the novel begins. Her friendships with these two show how, even though Biz is sympathetic to their plights - Amelia's being that she wants to get closer to a guy she likes, and Cameron's being much more involved - his sister went missing several years ago and he's always been looked at as a suspect - she also is unwilling to let them be sympathetic to hers. In some ways this shows strength of character - that she can stand on her own two feet. In other ways, it's nice to have people in your corner, and she should have been able to trust those with whom she is closest, including her parents.
There were a few areas I would have loved to read more about, but maybe Hooyenga will get to them more in 'Fracture,' this book's sequel. Amelia's relationship with the guy she likes was written in quickly, and it would have been nice to see it all connect in a more meaningful way than Biz just enjoying the fact that she and Amelia had relationships at the same time. A man who is on the bleachers at the games Biz takes photographs at is one point that is resolved near the end of the novel, but further explanation of his actions whenever Biz saw him would have been a welcome addition. It is understandable to pique curiosity as to whom he is, but having him share his involvement near the end would have been helpful. Finally, Cameron's sister Katie's story and more about the leads the police department had on her kidnapping as well as the others that took place over the course of the novel would have been nice. Several years elapsed between Katie's kidnapping and the ones that were occurring in the present day of the novel, so some reasoning as to their starting up again could have been explored further as well. The ending came quickly, and some might worry that the story won't resolve in time. It did, but the climax could have come a bit earlier to leave more time for some of these more extended answers to be included.
'Flicker' comes highly recommended for those who love contemporary fiction, romance, time travel, and a fast, thrilling read.