My breath came in fits and starts. And I was gone, in a flash, back to the loop. Back to my other… my other me… my other places. My other times. All Emery Land wants is to be like any other seventeen year old—to go to school, hang out with her friends, and just be normal. But for as long as she can remember, she’s suffered from something akin to seizures. And in recent years they’ve consumed her life. To Emery they're much more than seizures, she calls them loops—moments when she travels through wormholes back and forth in time and to mysterious places. The loops are taking their toll on her physically. So she practically lives in the hospital where her scientist father and an ever-growing team of doctors monitor her every move. Although they don’t believe her claims of time travel, the doctors are extremely interested in the data they collect when Emery seizes – too interested. What is it they think she is capable of? Is she tapping into never-before-used parts of the brain? Is this clairvoyance of some sort? Telepathy? Or something else completely? When Emery encounters a young boy—a guide of sorts who offers cryptic warnings—she intuitively knows she must decipher his clues to uncover what is really happening to her. Escaping from the hospital, she travels to Esperanza, the town from her loops in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where she meets a guarded and mysterious good Samaritan, Asher Clarke. A series of coincidences draw them together, and Emery quickly realizes that their individual mysteries – their singular secrets—might not be so separate after all. With time running out for Emery, they must unravel their complicated connection before it’s too late. In her gorgeously crafted page-turning debut, Gina Linko offers readers a stunning blend of science fiction and romance.
Emery possesses the mental strength that I so adore in a female main character, and all of it in spite of her incredible physical weakness. The realization that her best friend doesn't really believe that she's time traveling adds a kind of hopelessness that makes her unstoppable, and as she journeys to the place she believes she is being led, I could feel within myself the hope and adventure and desperation all bubbling within her heart and mind. The characters she encounters in the Michigan town she has traced, even when briefly encountered, are clearly written, interesting, and easy to picture. Their small-town hospitality and caring--including the immediately enchanting and thoroughly masculine Ash--combined with Emery's fish-out-of-water state, wove a story I could not pull myself away from.
At first I was not sure about this story or Emery, but as I got to know her I felt more and more of a connection to her, in part I think because I moved out/left when I was 17 and have had many precarious yet exhilarating, solitary journeys of my own. The plot happily caught me off guard over and over again, and kept me guessing as to the link between Emery and Ash and the truth behind her episodes. I thought I wanted certain things to happen, but as the story unfolded, each new piece of the puzzle fit perfectly, until the finale, which I felt was perfectly executed. A surprisingly immersing read.
We get to see right away that while it looks like a seizure from the outside her "condition" goes so much further than that. She is trying to convince scientist Dad that she loops through time, knowing things she couldn't possibly from the past and seeing parallel futures.
I loved getting to know Ash, the love interest. He is so mysterious and I can't help but wonder how he connects to the loops and what he is hiding. I love the moments of tenderness between the two, as well as the build up with their relationship.
Ms. Linko worked all of the plot elements together wonderfully and I really enjoyed reading how everything pieced together. Things that seem totally unrelated actually are moving the plot ahead and have significance.
The ending is nowhere what I expected, and at first, I was even unhappy with it. But the more I think about it, I like it more and more. It really is fitting and where the story was building up to with the small clues (and some not so small) could really be the most poetic and what the characters were meant for.