ARC Book Review: Tempest by Julie Cross

12 December, 2011 Reviews 0 comments

Tempest by Julie Cross
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Pages: 352 pages
Series: Tempest, #1
Release date: January 17th 2012
[xrr rating=2/5]

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.

Until the last ten percent of Tempest, I was resigned to giving it one lonely star and, for once, not having even an inkling to pick up its sequels. I truly believe some people will be captivated with the story Julie Cross has woven together because it’s not a bad book, it ‘s just not a good book either. In all honesty, this is more of a 1.5 star book simply reliant on the principle that it just wasn’t for me. However, it really doesn’t fit on my 1.5 star shelf, which is home to some pretty crappy books and Tempest doesn’t really deserve to be there among them. Plus, I’m feeling very generous today.

The year is 2009 and Jackson Meyer is your typical college student. He has a beautiful girlfriend named Holly who adores him and an awesome best friend named Adam. He also happens to be the son of a pharmaceutical company CEO, making him an incredibly rich kid. Oh yeah, and he can time travel. He seems to have everything he could ever want until one day mysterious people show up and shoot Holly. Suddenly, Jackson finds himself stuck in the year 2007. As Jackson struggles to find out his way back, he learns truths about his past, present and a possibly disturbing future. What he used to consider a weird ability now seems to have a lot more power over the world’s future. Talk about pressure.

Tempest and I got off to a rocky start. First off, I want to say I loved the premise. Time travel is always a difficult topic to cover since there are so many “rules” and loads of possibilities for confused readers. For the most part, by the end of the novel I did feel like I had a pretty good understanding of Cross’ universe. However, my issues with this book lie with certain events in the storyline and the characters.

Plot Events:
Tempest starts of very quickly with you immediately learning about Jackson’s abilities and a few of the rules. In other words, Tempest got down to business. From the blurb, I knew Holly was going to get shot and I knew Jackson would wind up in 2007. What I didn’t expect was for it to happen so soon in the story. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it felt like the story and the plot were taking off before I could connect or care about the characters. When the mysterious men show up in Holly’s dorm room looking for Jackson and she’s accidentally shot, I found myself asking, “Wait. Is this where I should care?” Sadly, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. My care-o-meter was at a steady zero. In any case, that entire scene seemed entirely too farfetched. Who let those people into the dorm randomly? Why would Jackson and Holly’s first reaction be to attack the people when all they did was ask a question? I don’t understand. 2009 was only two years ago, but I’m pretty sure we weren’t attacking people who ask us questions.

But despite my initial turnoff I continued reading and found that I really like Jackson’s sister, Courtney. I was a little sad she wasn’t explored more. That would have been really interesting and added another layer of intrigue. In fact, now that I think about it, I’m not sure what the point was in the whole Courtney sub-plot. Was it to make Jackson a more sympathetic protagonist? Hmm…FAIL. Unfortunately, just when I thought the plot was about to actually pick up, this book gets really corny. When he gets stuck in 2007 he affectionately renames that Holly as “007.” Yes, this is a good as any place to *facepalm*. Then, Jackson becomes some makeshift time-traveling CIA agent battling the “Enemies of Time.”

It all went downhill for me at that point. I was already have a hard enough time connecting with the characters before Jackson became some super speshul badass agent.

With regards to the time traveling, for the most part I kinda sorta understood it, but when they started getting into “time-lines” and “alternate dimensions,” they lost me. When Jackson is stuck in 2007 why didn’t anything he do affect the future when he got back to 2009 ? Add that to the fact that Jackson is constantly jumping from 2007 to 2009 back and forth every few pages, and it gets pretty hard to remember what the heck was going on. The few times where he did stay in one year long enough for me to catch my breath, he is having a flashback to either…you guessed it…2007 or 2009.

The plot was also very predictable. I knew exactly what his dad was hiding. By the time the big plot twist came up I remained unmoved in my boredom.

The Characters:

I think one of the biggest issues with this book is that the characters were underdeveloped. Many times it felt like Cross was so eager to get to “the good parts” that she didn’t spend enough time writing believable dialogue and characters.

One part that really bugged me was when Jackson had the conversation with his teacher about dropping out of school and getting his GED. He basically says he’s going to drop out and she pretty much goes, “Okay.” What teacher would react that way? None that I’ve had. She didn’t even ask him why he wanted to do that:

She laughed again. “That can’t be true. So . . . will I see you roaming the halls soon?”
I forced back the disgusted look I knew was about to take form on my face. No way was I going back to high school.
“Probably not. I’m thinking of taking my GED, just tired of the whole high school scene.” The waitress dropped off my dinner and I picked up the fork and stabbed a spear of asparagus. “Actually, I gave my dad an ultimatum, public school or GED. He’s leaning toward the GED.”
“Public school isn’t that bad. I went to one, and look how I turned out,” she said.

Ummm…WHAT? Her reaction is child’s play, however, to his father’s.

“I want to talk about you dropping out. I understand you have your reasons for coming back from Spain, but at least consider returning to Loyola.”

I’m sorry, who is the parent here? Please consider going back to school? Oh, no, no, no, no. This is pretty much the last time his dad has the “school conversation” with him and Jackson never does go back to school. Anyone else see how unrealistic that is? Please tell me I’m not the only one.

Holly and Adam. Who are these people? The girlfriend and the sidekick. Once again more stereotypes. Can you guess what Holly looks like? She’s a blonde haired, blue eyed beauty perfect in every way. You know, like a real life Barbie Doll.

Jackson treats her like crap and she still continues to forgive him and then sleep with him. Nice. That’s the perfect message to send to girls.
Adam wasn’t much better of a character. He was a nerd/geek/>insert any other insult against a computer techy

As I mentioned before the dialogue also was unrealistic. The characters are supposed to be 19 in 2009 and 17 in 2007, but they always felt younger to me, especially Jackson. No doubt some parts were meant to be funny, but I never once cracked a smile.

Jackson (he gets his own section):

I was really excited to learn the story is told from a male protagonist, but I quickly discovered that Jackson isn’t really a guy. But wait, Stephanie! Julie Cross said Jackson is a male! The author said he is therefore it must be so, right? And to you sheepies I would reply, “NO.”

Jackson sounds like he’s trying to be a guy, but I never found his voice to be very convincing. Most of the time it felt like he was trying too hard to provethat he did, in fact, have a Y chromosome. For example, there is a scene in the novel where Jackson and Holly are on the verge of having sex and she mentions she’s “never done this before.” This immediately turns Jackson off for two reasons. One, because he is afraid of hurting her and for this reason:

The idea that she might not enjoy this was turning me in the other direction. I couldn’t remember the last time I had been with a virgin, even just messing around. Maybe never.

Now, in this flashback he was 17 and maybe it’s just me, but that statement gave me pause. At 17-years-old he’s had sex with so many girls that he can’t even remember if any were virgins. Not only that, but he also says the longest relationship besides Holly he’d been in lasted a month (and the girl was out of the country for two of those weeks). How did Britney put it? Faking like a good one, but I call ’em like I see ’em. I know what you are, what you are, baby. Ironically, I read this scene to my husband to gather a male perspective and the first thing he asked was, “This is supposed to be a guy?” Exactly. I may have been able to accept those things if that corresponded with his apparent personality, but it didn’t. It’s almost like Cross tried to write a character with these stereotypes (I’m a rich man-whore, but it’s gravy ’cause that’s what boys my age do!) and at the same time make him a sensitive and caring boyfriend to Holly (but I’d never do that to Holly because…because…because…I just wouldn’t, okay?). Boy don’t try to front. I…I know just *just* what you are-are-are. I suppose we are to assume (hahaha, see what I did there?) Holly sparked this change in Jackson, but there was nothing remotely special about her that made me go, “Okay, I see it.” I could never understand what was so magical about her to cause that sort of change in his personality, especially since he was not a very good boyfriend to begin with. You are concerned enough for her to not hurt her during sex, but not concerned enough to not flirt with other girls or deceive her 2007 self into liking you? Womanizer, woman-womanizer, you’re a womanizer. Oh womanizer, oh you’re a womanizer, baby. So, no. I did not buy their relationship. If anything I was wondering why Holly, who did seem like a smart girl, was with him in the first place.

The Ending: (This part may or may not contain mild spoilers)

Two words: Thrown together. I did not understand it at all. The sad part is, I finished the book two days ago and I can barely remember the fine details of it. BUT the one thing I do remember is Holly and Jackson’s “It’s too dangerous for us to be together! I love you so much, I have to break up with you so the bad guys don’t use you as a target!” moment. Look, this plan NEVER works. If it didn’t work out for Spiderman and Mary Jane, then it’s not gonna work out for you either.

And of course this book happens to have a major marketing campaign and the rights for a movie, with Summit Entertainment no less, have been optioned. I’m left asking, “Why?” This book didn’t make me laugh, cry, or even frustrated. I had zero emotions running through me. I had my ‘Dark Knight’ face on the entire time I read this.

I’ve added the next books to my shelf, but if I’m being honest here, I’m not sure if I’ll ever read them.

*sigh* Oh, well. We win some, we lose some, right?

I want to give a huge thank you to Ms. Wendy Darling for hosting an ARC tour over at her blog The Midnight Garden!

Steph Sinclair

Steph Sinclair

Co-blogger at Cuddlebuggery
I'm a bibliophile trying to make it through my never-ending To-Be-Read list, equal opportunity snarker, fangirl and co-blogger here at Cuddlebuggery. Find me on GoodReads.

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