At the moment Dan's life ends, the Rider's begins. Unwillingly tied to Dan, the Rider finds himself moving backwards in time, each day revealing more of the series of events that led to Dan's suicide. As the Rider struggles to figure out what he's meant to do, he revels in the life Dan ignores. Beyond the simple pleasures of a hot shower and the sun on his face, the Rider also notices the people around Dan: his little sister, always disappointed by her big brother's rejection, his overwhelmed mom, who can never rely on Dan for help, and Cat --with her purple hair, artistic talent, and misfit beauty. But Cat doesn't want anything to do with Dan. While the days move in reverse and Halloween looms, it's up to the Rider to find out why Cat is so angry, and what he must do to make things right. In his second novel for teens, Todd Mitchell turns time around as the Rider attempts to fix the future by changing the past and experiences the joys and heartbreak of living backwards.
A unique premise and a tense, emotionally fraught climax will give readers plenty to think about after finishing BACKWARDS. Readers who enjoy having a mystery worth unraveling will find much to love in this story. Clues are fed to the reader after events have already unfolded, and the stakes continue to rise as the clock rewinds.
The book deals with some heavy subject matter but still manages to be a fairly quick read. There are hints of romance, but readers looking for a book that focuses more on mystery will be satisfied to know that the romance doesn't overshadow the plot. Relationships are examined within the story, but rather than simply the relationship between Dan and Cat, every relationship in Dan's life, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is put under a microscope, all within the context of an unwinding clock that is hurtling the narrator toward a terrible fate he can't figure out how to avoid.
What Left Me Wanting More:
The narrative style is very matter-of-fact, and both the narrator and Dan feel distant and removed from the reader. That made it hard to truly connect with and care about either of them. The narrator also didn't sound like a teenager, and sometimes his descriptions didn't sound authentic for a boy. Readers who need to connect emotionally to the characters or who are distracted by a YA narrator who doesn't sound YA may have some difficulty with the story.
A unique, thought-provoking premise and an exciting climax help make BACKWARDS an interesting story for readers who prefer matter-of-fact mysteries over emotionally rich narratives.