Tempest (Tempest, #1) by Julie Cross
Publication Date: January 17, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Time Travel
Source: Borrowed from library
Description from Goodreads:
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.
Time travel can be a fickle thing to write about. There are so many loop holes, and the audience demands a logical well thought out explanation, or at least something simple enough that it stops me from asking a bajillion questions. The theme these days in dealing with time travel without heavy physics talk is to wrap it in something that is already mysterious and difficult to explain - but when you say it to people they immediately go OOOOH and back off. In this case it just so happens to be genetics, like in The Time Traveller's Wife. But where The Time Traveller's Wife, time travel is straight forward (he can't change events, he moves forward and back, nothing goes with him and he can't control it), Tempest makes it a bit more complicated - which at times proves to be its downfall.
The cover of Tempest features Jackson and Holly in a pivotal moment of the story, suspended in the air. I do love how dramatic it is, and the feeling of falling and desperation between the two.
Tempest revolves around 19 year-old Jackson Meyer, he's living the college dream; rich, parties, a hot girlfriend Holly and a genius best friend Adam. But then the unthinkable happens and in a seemingly random act of violence Holly is shot and killed, forcing Jackson to jump into the past and get stuck there. With some digging, he finds out that his whole life isn't what it seems and that there's a bigger conspiracy present than he could ever imagine.
The story is written journal style from Jackson's point of view. Luckily for us he's made a habit of recording the date and time in order to keep his travels straight. We start out getting a bit of a taste for Jackson's limited abilities, he can travel back in time, but he can't affect anything and he leaves his body behind in the present in a comatose-like state, which seems kind of useless...
It's not a good sign that after a few pages in I couldn't stand the character of Jackson already. He's got that egotistical attitude that accompanies big money, he hates "feminist type" girls and any attempt Julie makes to try and have a conversation about their relationship he decides the best way to resolve it is with sex and he can't function in normal day to day society or while performing menial tasks (like plunging a toilet). Also for a time traveller, he seems to have the absolute worst memory ever, he couldn't even remember big events in his life - like the time he spent that semester abroad. Who forgets a life experience like that? There's an attempt to make him seem a bit philosophical in his time travelling, like when he ponders a scenario where if he brought a live fish back in time with him if it'd be alive or even exist - but he just doesn't have the basic problem solving skills to consider that the same rule would apply to his clothes or anything he brings back in time with him that was manufactured or grown.
We don't know much about present day Holly, but when Jackson goes back in time his first and foremost goal is to quit school and devote his time to stalking his now young (jail-bait) gymnist to-be girlfriend Holly. It's kind of weird, he has this whole moral debate with himself that he can't be with her because he's too old at this exact moment, but on the other hand he already knows what she looks like naked - creepy right? He also didn't seem to know his girlfriend very well...at all, and the whole basis of their relationship was physical.
The saving grace character is Adam, Holly and Jackson's best friend and the resident genius. Good thing he's the man with the time travelling proof plan because he's the only one that can click the pieces together and fast to help out Jackson daily. In the present he ends up conducting little time travel experiments with Jackson, and I admire his passion. What I hate was he would "calculate" the time lapses between what Jackson jumps - and what actually passes in reality with a formula he's come up with and it all sounds fascinating. Then he decides not to elaborate because it's too complicated to understand. But this is most likely because we're looking at this from Jackson's point of view and frankly he doesn't give a damn.
The whole point of the story is for Jackson to ultimately save his girlfriend, and as soon as she got shot I knew immediately where this story would inevitably end. I knew so quickly that I pondered if there was even a point to reading the whole story, because in a time travelling story where you lose a loved one what's typically the only way you can save them? Think about it for a second, it'll come to you. Yea, you got it, but it takes Jackson over 300 pages to figure it out.
There is this whole background conspiracy that involved other time travellers and secret sects of the government all entwined together and deeply rooted into Jackson's life. But the plot gets windy, twisty and clouded. There are some interesting reveals, but some secrets were hinted at pretty early on in the book, and reiterated throughout that when it all finally came out it was pretty anti-climatic.
Overall: 2/5 Tepid Cups of Tea.
I disliked Jackson, it's hard to like a story when you hate the main character and he never seems to learn or grow. The plot is pretty cliche and the ending is obvious. A lot of people have pointed out that this is like the movie Jumper and it's pretty much the spitting image of it. The writing style was simple enough to follow, but a bit bland in the execution. I'll give it credit for a decent government conspiracy type story with an awesome best friend.