In a stark departure, Brashares, of Traveling Pants fame, returns with a lightning-paced sci-fi time-travel romp that, much like a cinematic blockbuster, offers intrigue, romance and a healthy dose of implausibility.
After blood plague ravages her world, Prenna James emigrates with a group of refugees, known as travelers. However, it’s not where she ends up, it’s when. Her community tries to assimilate into a society decades in the past, with stringent rules about how they must conduct themselves in the time natives’ society. Predictably, Prenna falls in love with Ethan, a handsome time native—one of the gravest offenses a traveler might commit—and quickly learns that her tightly knit authoritarian community may indeed be harboring secrets. Brashares’ worldbuilding is solid, and she handles the time-travel elements with a fluid, cinematic ease. Unfortunately, she relies too much on dei ex machina to propel Ethan and Prenna forward. Cars, money and opportunity pop up with uncannily good timing and convenience, helping the time-crossed lovers right the wrongs of the past. Those willing to overlook such shortcuts will surely be swept into the whirlwind romance and breathlessly turn pages to discover if there truly is a possibility for a better future.
This quirky tale of love and time travel demands that readers totally suspend disbelief to enjoy some of the more contrived plot elements. (Science fiction. 13-16)