"Tempest" by Julie Cross [PG Review]

Book Review of Tempest by Julie Cross

{This is a Parental Guidance review, and contains spoilers}

I've never met a time travel story I didn't like. There is something about being able to change the past or see the future that is intriguing, and the possible mechanisms for time travel are fun to contemplate.

As with any time travel story, you must suspend disbelief on page 1. Explaining the theoretical  'science' behind it, or the reason why there are not multiple paradoxes or an immediate meltdown of the universe would take more pages than any publisher is willing to print, and the reader would be bored to death. Except maybe for me, because I love hard science fiction and I don't care how many pages of geek I have to read. But I digress. . .

Synopsis of Tempest

Jackson Meyer, our time-jumping protagonist in Tempest, does not have a time machine, nor a starship with which to slingshot around the sun. Due to some evolutionary process and/or genetic experimentation, there are some people who can jump through time, and each has a different ability. Jackson can 'half-jump', which is to say that he can boomerang into the past without physically leaving his own time. This ability is unique, and you can just picture the power-hungry government agencies that are drooling over Jackson. . .

Yes, we do have nefarious CIA agents and conspiracies galore. Jackson goes from mildly spoiled rich kid with no other concerns than corralling some kids on a field trip and getting it on with his girlfriend Holly, to discovering the complex web of secrets in which his entire life - past, present, future - is entangled. His love for Holly is tested far beyond the ordinary trials of youth, as well as his trust and loyalty to his father. This novel could also be called Jackson Grows Up and Realizes That There is More to Life Than Sex.

Commentary

As much as I could jump right in and believe in time-travel as an inherited gene, there were few elements of this story that I smacked up against as less-than-conceivable. When Jackson jumps back a couple of years and ends up in high school, he and his father have an actual conversation about Jackson dropping out the last semester of his senior year. I can empathize, because the last place in the world I would travel back in time to experience is high school. But Jackson is a good student (who is supposed to be traveling Europe, by the way) and I can't imagine any conversation between father and son about dropping out of school that doesn't end with "NO, YOU ARE NOT!"

Jackson also is apparently so sexually promiscuous that when he and Holly decide to have sex for the first time, he finds out it really is her first time, and is reluctant to go through with it because he can't remember the last time he had sex with a virgin. This may be typical of the average college student, but that scene was disconcerting and unconvincing. And it sounded way too much like adolescent bragging.

Jackson's friend and geek/hacker sidekick Adam not only understands the principles of quantum mechanics, but he has a friend at a laboratory who can do a DNA match on the fly as a favor. Doesn't everybody?

I am always interested to see how family is portrayed in YA novels. Most often, the parents are invisible, uninvolved, in jail, or dead. In Tempest, Jackson seems to have a healthy respect for his dad, and even when he is confronted with the possibility that his father is a bad guy, he remains loyal and grants him the benefit of the doubt. He genuinely loves his twin sister Courtney. His affection  for Holly, at first rather immature, develops into truly sacrificial love in the end.  As much as this novel's premise is time travel and government conspiracies, it is primarily a relationship story.

Between half-jumping, time jumping, and flashbacks, this novel requires your undivided attention. It is fast-paced and ends on a proverbial cliff.

Sensitive, Mature or Objectionable Content

  • Sexual situations or references: Jackson and Holly have an active sex life that, while not graphic, is detailed. No mentions of using protection or birth control.
  • Violence/gore: Some martial arts style fighting, shooting, and people are killed, but none of it is graphic.
  • Substance use: A couple of mentions of getting drunk or 'trashed'.
  • Profanities/obscenities: I quit after awhile, but at last count, there were about 16 anatomical terms, 13 scatological, 8 profanities, and 5 f* bombs. Some derogatory name-calling.
  • Death/peril: Several people near and dear to Jackson are in imminent peril or die. 
  • Themes: Family relationships, dealing with secrets from the past, death of a loved one, regret, true love.

Say it together now - "This novel is the first in a trilogy". The story continues with Vortex and Timestorm

A bonus short story is available for Kindle - Tomorrow is Today.

Also check out these interviews with author Julie Cross: