Tempest by Julie Cross

Release Date: January 17, 2012

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Format: ARC

Source: Inkwood

The year is 2009.  Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies – nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors – it’s just harmless fun.

That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future.Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities.But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler.  Recruit… or kill him.Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he’s willing to go to save Holly… and possibly the entire world.

I thought I'd have mixed feelings about this, but I am completely positive on this one. I am a little hesitant to read time travel books just because it's a hard concept to pull off. I think the only ones that have completely pulled off the parallel universe/time travel concept well have been Ruby Red and The 13th Reality: The Journal of Curious Letters. I am happy that I can add this one on the list.

One thing that was different about this book was that it was told in the boy's point of view, Jackson. Whenever an author chooses to do this, it immediately catches my attention. It's always something that I look for. Not only do I always want to know what a guy thinks, but it's just a fresh perspective on a paranormal romance.

Jackson himself is such a vibrant character. He really has goals for himself and is so sweet towards his girlfriend, Holly. He finds himself overwrought with guilt and trying to find a way to keep his girlfriend alive by "jumping" into parallel universes, back in time. His thought process and personality were fascinating. He's very intelligent and it came through in everything he did, but he's also very tender, which softened things a lot.

One of the things that stood out to me while reading was watching Holly and Jackson fall in love again. It showed us how they were when their relationship was at its peak, passionate and loving and completely devoted to each other. When Holly dies, Jackson finds himself stuck in the past and he can't get back, so he finds Holly then.

It was amazing to watch how time affected how Holly acted. In the "present", she was more reserved. In the past, she was looser and more relaxed. It almost helped that there was the comparison between them because you saw both the long-term and short-term effects of their relationship.

There were constant questions rolling through Jackson's mind about his relationship with Holly about how meeting her earlier in time might affect their relationship. Would he still watch her die? Would their relationship be the same? As we got further into the book, I answered my own questions and I completely fell in love with the two of them as a couple.

Jackson is a time-traveler. He discovered this ability one day while falling asleep in class, and woke up to find himself in a different place two hours earlier. When he is with his girlfriend at college, strangers burst in. Before he knows what is happening, Holly is shot, and is dying in his arms.

The shock of it makes Jackson jump back into time. The catch? This time he can't get back. Normally he'd come back soon, and be in the present again. It was 2009 when he jumped, but he is stuck in 2007. When Jackson accepts the fact that he can't get back, he embarks on a journey to find the 2007 Holly and make her fall in love with him again. This time, he won't lose her.

As the two open up to each other and Jackson tries to understand how the Tempest gene (the gene that gives him the ability to time-travel) works, the thrilling question of who the strangers were and where they'll pop up is haunting. I was able to relax into the story while still terrified that Holly and Jackson would be torn apart again.

This book is confusing, but in a good way. You have to think it through, but it is completely worth it. It's not the type of book for people who don't enjoy a mental challenge, but if you do, you'll find your mind running throughout the book and loving the new time-travel twist that Julie Cross has created.

I was expecting to fall in love with the storyline, not the characters! From the main characters (Jackson and Holly) to the supporting characters (Jackson's dad, Adam, etc,.) I loved Adam! He's the geeky best friend of Jackson, and although it sounds like this would be incredibly cliche, it actually wasn't! He wasn't a cardboard cutout character but instead was unique and likable. The entire cast of characters in this novel is thoroughly engaging!

One thing that I noticed while I was reading was the success in which Julie Cross has had in creating a strong female character. Although Jackson goes on his journey to save his girlfriend from being shot, Holly is strong. He may be trying to rescue her, but it isn't a damsel-in-distress story. Her strength is palpable and comes through.Holly is independent. She had a great balance between her own interests and Jackson. She didn't rely on him, but she let him support her when she needed it. She was freethinking and I think that we definitely need more girls like her in YA.

Another thing that I noticed was Jackson's tenderness when he was looking out for others. He used his intelligence to help others instead of only thinking about himself. The way Julie Cross wrote it (and I thought it was extremely effective) was with a softness when Jackson was speaking of others. It's a rare find for a character to be thinking of others all the time.

While I did occasionally get confused what with the time-traveling (it's very hard not to with this subject matter) is how it all came together. It is extremely hard to explain a time-travel concept well. I do think that Cross did an excellent job, but there were still a few minuscule plot holes that I had to reread to wrap my head around. This was just a blip for me, but in a few seconds I picked it up and it was perfectly fine.

Time travel has been dramatic in the past few years. A lot of series have explored the possibilities and questions like "what if" and "how" with all sorts of wonderful descriptions and explanations. I think that this explanation can go far. It's a great idea and the "jumping" itself was well executed. There was a tree metaphor in there somewhere and I could clearly visualize how it was possible for Jackson to be jumping into different times.

The way that the story is executed makes it so that Jackson essentially lives time in many different dimensions and versions. This book showed how even the smallest detail and decision could change reality, and really brings up the other question of "which path should I take?". Although this is not to be confused with actually altering the present (which is impossible for Jackson to do), he can experience different versions of events. It was a beautiful showcase and was well demonstrated. I'm looking forward to seeing the concept illustrated in later books.

The drama in this book was unbelievable. It is indeed "thrilling" but there's both a sense of calm and of foreboding as we read. For one, Jackson is re-experiencing falling in love with Holly and that is an amazing thing to read, but on the other hand, we're nervous about what will happen with Holly and Jackson later, when their (past? present? future?) catches up with them.

Julie Cross was INCREDIBLE at writing action scenes. She manages to put in a TON of suspense and tension, while still managing to make the writing beautiful. How is it possible that she managed to create a gripping love story AND a fast-paced action thriller? I am in awe. I wish I could do that.

There were a lot of little things that made this book huge in my mind. For one, the fact that Jackson was in college. There aren't that many YA books where the character is in college and it's a bit of a bummer. My older sister is in college and she likes finding books where the protagonist is in college. They're still YA readers, but we seem to omit them when we think about YA characters. Granted, this was just a detail but it was still great to read about.

A sad part for me was that Jackson's twin had died. I started crying when I read about her, but the parts with Courtney and Jackson mirrored how Hannah and I are. They had a connection like a perpetual inside joke that the rest of the world wasn't in on. Even though she had died, she was a huge part of the book. Jackson's character is shaped by the grief he feels over the death of his twin sister. It broke my heart when he debated about jumping back to see her and how he would react. He was scared of going to see his sister when she was about to die but also wanted to see her again. He was unsure whether he would be able to have his heart broken again by the deaths of the people that he loved.

In the first few chapters, Jackson seems like an average guy, even a bit of a slacker. It was like we kept uncovering new layers to his characters. Truths about Jackson were revealed through his interactions with other characters. It was through these interactions that we learned about his tense relationship with his father, his grief over Courtney's death, and his sweet nature. He tended to cover up his emotions by pretending like he didn't care.

I am so happy that this is a trilogy! I want the next one NOW! The action towards the end, and oh, Julie Cross, you tortured me with that ending! It offers enough of an ending to not be tearing out my hair (like Pandemonium or The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer) but enough to keep me hungering for the next book like I hunger for next week's episode of The Vampire Diaries. 

I loved the ominous "strangers" that were chasing Jackson and Holly. The Enemies of Time were creepy and had a presence throughout the book, like we were just waiting to see what they would do when they caught up with Jackson.

This book had no "first book syndrome" whatsoever. It was excellent in its world building, but it didn't focus on it, nor did it use it as a crutch. The world building was actually very subtle. Although, think about it: if this is the first book, and it has to go through the world building and character introduction, and it STILL has that much intensity, think about what the next installment will hold. It makes me even more eager for the next book to be released.

The end of the book was full of intensity, drama, depth, and complexity. It was intoxicating and addicting and absolutely incredible to read. The second half of the book was definitely where Julie Cross hit her stride and managed to smooth everything out. For the entire last half of the book. It made me want to read faster so that I could devour the end of it.

Although I've heard comparisons by this book to Twilight, I don't see it. Twilight is a wonderful book and they are both fantastic paranormal romances, but I see them at far ends of the spectrum. Twilight is more of a classic love story and the epitome of what people think of when they hear the phrase "paranormal romance". Even though Tempest is a romance, the drama and action have a balance with the romance. Everything seemed very balanced. Fans of Twilight will enjoy this, but it isn't much like Twilight.

I can see this creating a trend. I can see this book as the one that girls my age see in the bookstore and all show up to school toting it around to class for a month (right now it's The Hunger Games). I think that Julie Cross will go far and so will this series.

Recommended for anybody who loves: Jumper; Ruby Red; male POVs; college-age protagonist; time travels; thrilling books; etc,.

Possible book club questions:

Compare '09 Holly and '07 Holly. Which one is stronger? Why?Compare Jackson's relationships with '09 Holly and '07 Holly. Which one was stronger? Why?How do you feel that the concept of time-travel has "evolved" with recent books? Is it a positive or negative?If you could jump back to any time, where would you jump?How did Jackson's character mature throughout the book?

etc,. 

Not only is Tempest a fantastic book, but it's also fantastic on audio! Check out a sample:

tempestclip.mp3

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