I decided to review these books at once, because they both have light sci-fi themes, and they also both have similar issues for me in this regard.
Warning: mild spoilers ahead for both books
Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone
Dislikes: Romance felt rushed, Anna was sometimes frustrating, the time travel aspect ended up being more paranormal than sci-fi
I wanted this book to be about a guy who had a time machine, went back in time, and slowly fell in love with a girl from 1995.
Instead, I got a book about a guy who can magically and inexplicably travel anywhere at any point of time within his lifetime, shows up in 1995 to look for his sister that he lost around this time when they went to a concert, and then falls in love crazy fast.
As I explained in my post about buying into romances, the relationship between Anna and Bennett happened before I even had the chance to root for them to become a couple. They had known each other for a few weeks, yes, but they have not talked much before Anna decides she’s ready to kiss him and date him (when hours before he had just yelled at her, though he did apologize for this). It felt unnatural to me, and even if some people (and notably teens) “fall in love” in a time frame I consider fast, it should at least feel like the character is falling in love, and not just mildly curious about the person,which was how it felt for me about Anna when she’s apparently actually more than mildly curious. And they haven’t been dating very long when they get crazy serious and decide that the decade plus separating them WILL NOT STOP THEIR FOREVER LOVE.
Those were my main frustrations. For the most part, I liked Anna and Bennett. There were good secondary characters, including Anna’s parents (YES! Parents in a YA story! And good, involved parents at that!) and her friends. But most of it felt like surface stuff that could have been really great if explored deeper. For instance, Bennett has a rule about not using his gift to change “the big stuff” because of potential consequences. Anna talks him into changing something anyway (which was annoying), and close to the end of the novel we see a small, minor possible consequence of the change, but it was no where near the level I think it should have been in order to really get the message across to Anna. The romance could have been better developed, and I wish there had been more about how Bennett was able to find his sister and how he was able to get back to Anna in the end.
Final verdict: It was an interesting idea but somewhat lacking.
*EDIT on May 8, 2014* I don’t normally make edits like this, but in case anyone runs across this later, I wanted to include a link to Debby @ Snuggly Oranges’ review of Time Between Us, because she articulated some of my problems with the book very well.
by Jessica Brody
While Unremembered did a better job of delivering on what I would consider an actual sci-fi plot, the romance was even more undeveloped than that of Time Between Us and the characters were completely unmemorable.
Likes: Really interesting concepts, Sera’s foster family
Dislikes: Everything else fell flat
The plot, the details of the world, the plot twists were all interesting and held so much potential. Maybe it was something about me and my mood while I was reading this (these two books did have the misfortune of following up my reading of Cress), but nothing surprised me or shocked me in the slightest. Not that I had figured out everything (though I had figured out more than I think Jessica Brody would have wanted me to), but when something happened it was just like, Yeah, makes sense. Or, like Cillian Murphy up there, Uh huh. It was just like, I didn’t care. I mean, I cared enough to keep reading but I felt ALMOST NO EMOTION ABOUT ANYTHING. Seriously.
I was trying to figure out WHY, and the only thing I can figure is because I had zero connection with Seraphina or Zen, and the reason why I felt no connection to them is because they are extremely two-dimensional. Heck, Zen was one-dimensional. And I couldn’t care that the two had a relationship because of this.
Things I know about Seraphina: She is genetically engineered to be incredibly gorgeous and smart. She loves Zen, though she doesn’t remember most of her past with him. And she likes Shakespeare’s sonnets.
Things I know about Zen: He loves Seraphina and will do anything for her. And he likes Shakespeare’s sonnets.
And that is literally it. After over 300 pages that’s all I know about the two main characters. The character I felt I related with the most with Seraphina’s foster mom. We also learn more about Sera’s foster brother Cody than we do about her or Zen. It was sad when Seraphina left the family, and even though suddenly all this action was happening it was like…
Again, I cared enough to keep reading. I can’t complain about a single plot element, but I have virtually no motivation to continue the series because everything fell flat and I got closure. At the end of the book, Sera and Zen are poised to go where they want to be. I can assume the story ends there, that they lived happily ever after. I know there’s going to be more of the bad guys coming to look for them but eh, oh well.
Final verdict: It was an interesting idea but somewhat lacking. (Yep, the same exact verdict as Time Between Us).
I liked both of these stories enough to give them 3 stars, but they both fell short of their potential for me. Overall I liked Time Between Us more, but I think Unremembered was actually a lot more interesting idea that just did nothing for me for whatever reason. Maybe I just should have read something in a completely different genre after Cress, I don’t know. I read these books because I thought about going to an event with these authors coming up, but now I don’t think I’m going to, largely because it’ll be inconvenient and I don’t have the incentive to buy hardbacks for either of these follow-ups to get signed (since I bought both of these as e-books).
What are your thoughts on Time Between Us and/or Unremembered? Did you like them more than I did?