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Thursday
Jul052012

Review: Erasing Time by CJ Hill

Erasing Time
CJ Hill

Katherine Tegen Books
368 pages
Releases August 28, 2012

Preorder it here from Amazon

In this high-action and romantic futuristic adventure, there is no escape from the future for two contemporary girls pulled out of their own time.

When twins Sheridan and Taylor wake up 400 years in the future, they find a changed world: domed cities, no animals, and a language that’s so different, it barely sounds like English. And the worst news: They can’t go back home.

The twenty-fifth-century government transported the girls to their city hoping to find a famous scientist to help perfect a devastating new weapon. The moblike Dakine fights against the government, and somehow Taylor and Sheridan find themselves in the middle. The only way to elude them all is to trust Echo, a guy with secrets of his own. The trio must put their faith in the unknown to make a harrowing escape into the wilds beyond the city.

Full of adrenaline-injected chases and heartbreaking confessions, Erasing Time explores the strength of the bonds between twins, the risks and rewards of trust, and the hard road to finding the courage to fight for what you believe in.

Erasing Time really surprised me. Prior to seeing this as an offering on the Around the World ARC Tour site, I’d never heard of CJ Hill or of this book. I signed up for the tour just because this book was about time travel and time travel is cool. What I was expecting was a light fluffy, happily-ever-after story that had time travel as a tiny element of a much lighter story. What I got instead was actual moments of hard science fiction within a well-constructed story that also had a heavy dose of the meaning of language and how our current society could be misconstrued someday down the road.

Sheridan and Taylor are twins in just about name only. Taylor is super smart, already working on her doctorate in physics at the young age of 16. She’s a physics prodigy, who created a machine that can turn matter into waves of energy. This is how sudden moments of hard science fiction creep into an otherwise dystopian adventure tale. She also has radically altered her appearance to distinguish herself from her sister.

Sheridan, on the other hand, is like me – a crazy language nut, who would much rather keep her nose in novels than work on complex equations. She understands the nuance in conversation and has a firm grasp on how language can change over time. This becomes helpful when she and Taylor find themselves sucked into a ball of bright light that transports them 400 years in the future to a time where the world has collapsed under the weight of itself and society has drastically changed. While the inhabitants still speak mostly English (with a dash of Spanish throw in for kicks), it’s more of a phonetic version that takes some getting used to. So it’s really convenient that there is a hot teenage guy who happens to specialize, along with his day, in 20th and 21st century communication and language.

What follows is a nice balance of extreme world building with an action-packed plot that I didn’t often follow the direction I thought it would. Taylor and Sheridan are fully realized and distinctive in both personality and intellect. Not once could I confuse one with the other and the characterization remained consistent even as the world building became more complex and crazy.

And, man, is this world building crazy. From the moment we’re introduced to Echo and his father with their crayon colored hair and artistic facial art, the world is defined as an extremely altered version of our own. The government has firm control over the citizens from birth to death, giving it a very Brave New World with genetically perfected children and the government raising kids in a bizarre form of boarding school. Meanwhile a deadly mob is terrorizing the city through seemingly random assassinations of citizens. But the meat of the world building comes from the subtle details Hill scatters like candy throughout this book.

I really liked Echo and his storyline surprised me. Hill took him in a direction that I didn’t see coming, but fit perfectly within the framework that the other characters create around him. Seeing this invasion of the past into his current world made the story richer, more than if we just saw the world of the 25th century through the eyes of two teenage girls lost from their time. While there were a couple of moments of purposeful miscommunication to complicate the story, it didn’t become too much to the point of annoyance.

But mostly I enjoyed Erasing Time because Hill didn’t treat the readers like idiots. Though she does explain the scientific concepts behind her time travel (and I have no idea whether there’s any validity behind her ideas), she doesn’t make it so simplistic or use terms that made me feel dumb or as though she were talking down to me. It’s refreshing to read a book with large concepts that isn’t written in a manner that assumes the teenage audience isn’t intelligent enough to get it.

My only real complaint came towards the last third of the book when it took a sudden turn into religion, where on occasion it seemed a bit preachy. In this future city, religion is forbidden though there’s an underground movement that still maintains religious traditions in one way or the other. It’s never really specified how or what these people believe in, only that in order for Taylor, Sheridan and Echo to be safe from the government, scientists and mob that is chasing them, they must turn to religion against the establishment to find safety. I guess it just seemed a little overbearing and slightly out of place in a story that relied so much on science for its main story construct.

But other than that, I loved Erasing Time. It is surprising, addicting and fun. It gave something for my English geek side to think on while also entertaining my science-loving side. I didn’t realize that it was the beginning of a series (why do I keep thinking books standalone anymore?), Hill opens the story up for a lot more exploration of this future world and the differences between then and now. It also opens up enough that it’s unclear whether Hill will choose to go in a more religious direction or stick to a more dystopian sci-fi story. Either way, I look forward to seeing where the story goes.

 

I received a copy of this ARC from the Around the World ARC Tour in return for an honest review. I have since shipped it off to the next reader in line.

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