by Lisa Mangum (website blog)
Hardcover - $18.95
His past. Her future. Can love bring them together in time? Abby s senior year of high school is going according to plan: good friends, cute boyfriend, and college applications in the mail. But when Dante Alexander, foreign-exchange student from Italy, steps into her life, he turns it upside down. He's mysterious, and interesting, and unlike anyone she's ever met before. Abby can't deny the growing attraction she feels for him. Nor can she deny the unusual things that seem to happen when Dante is around. Soon Abby finds herself drawn into a mystery whose roots reach into sixteenth-century Florence, and she uncovers a dangerous truth that threatens not only her future but the lives of those she loves.
Under ordinary reading circumstances, I would never have tackled The Hourglass Door without reading an adult novel or two first. I've been reading lots of YA or novels with young protagonists, and it's time for some grown-up books. However, I really wanted to read and review it close to the release date.
Despite my less-than-perfect mindset, I really enjoyed The Hourglass Door.
I've read that it's very Twilight-esque, but since I've never read Twilight, I couldn't say. It is about a young American girl who falls for a foreign-exchange student from Italy, who appears to have secrets. The girl's name is Abby, and she's a popular girl who spends her life trying to fulfill the expectations of those around her. The boy's name is Dante. He always wears fingerless gloves and is careful to never touch anyone.They come together via the school play, of which Abby is the assistant director. Dante is an extra.
Abby already has a boyfriend named Jason. Jason is strangely disciplined for a young boy, even to the point where he refuses to kiss Abby until the perfect amount of dating time has gone by--three months. Abby's two best friends are important characters as well, Valerie and Natalie. Valerie will just break your heart. The novels is written in first person from Abby's point of view, and there is little to no snark.
Abby doesn't know Dante very long before she realizes that he has mysterious powers. Abby, unknown to herself, has powers as well--everyone keeps telling her that she's "special." However, no one--not even the bad guys--will say just how she is special, and it got a bit annoying after a while. This and the author's tendency to dictate rules that the reader is expected to accept without explanation or logic are the few annoyances of the novel.
Dante and Abby are drawn to each other, which of course causes conflict with Jason. Adding to the conflict is a mysterious Italian band, whose members are making an extended stay in town. And there's also something mysterious about Dante's uncle, Leo. And what is with the strange device in his cabinet?
Ms. Mangum has mastered the art of increasing tension. She builds and builds the tension, with each unsolved problem piling on until Abby is standing there at the end, a crucial decision entirely up to her. At this point, the novel has traveled in a perfect circle. I do wish Abby could have been a bit more independent at the end, as she was entirely too dependent on Dante. The final action was her own, but she was held in someone's thrall almost to the last minute. Yet Dante was able to fight off the same influence, and then help Abby fight it. I would have preferred that Abby shine on her own.
The Hourglass Door was an engrossing read, with an engaging heroine and a likable--but not always capable--hero. It is a very clean read, but tackles some difficult subjects. It has some humorous moments, as well as those awkward high school moments that I enjoy re-experiencing--through another's eyes!--via a novel. After the ending is a chapter that serves as an epilogue. And there, we learn that there will be a book 2. I liked the way it ended, it was very unexpected, and made me think I know which direction the series will head in next. It will be cool if I'm wrong--but it will also be cool if I'm right.