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The Second Hand Unwinds

Mandy W. reviews the Time Between Us series by Tamara Ireland Stone. (Think The Time Traveller's Girlfriend.)

The Second Hand Unwinds

BOOK REPORT for the Time Between Us series (Books 1 and 2) by Tamara Ireland Stone

Cover Story: Ethereal Big Faces
BFF Charm: Return to Sender, and Sassy Gay Friend
Swoonworthy Scale: 4
Talky Talk: She Said, Then He Said
Bonus Factors: Time Travel, Music
Anti-Bonus Factor: Playing God
Relationship Status: Rebound

Cover Story: Ethereal Big Faces

Even though these covers combine two of my most disliked trends, Time After Time kind of works for me. It could be the colour scheme. It could be the lack of gazing off into the distance. It could be the model's fantastic eyebrows. And, of course, it could be the evocation of my ABSOLUTE favourite '80s song. (Side note: Cyndi, that's some Edward Cullen sleep stalking shizz you're pulling on your guy. And how much do I wish I could rock that red hair?)

Anyway, I wouldn't have needed Cyndi to convince me to read it with the UK cover, even with the kissing and the tagline.

The Deal:

Anna and Bennett have a long-distance relationship: she lives in Evanston, and he lives in San Francisco. But mere phone calls and cross-country flights couldn't bring these two together. Oh, didn't I mention that Anna's from 1995 and Bennett's from 2012? And that Bennett can travel through time and space? Well, they are, and he can. But can these crazy kids have a future together if her present is his past?

BFF Charm: Return to Sender, and Sassy Gay Friend

Anna's dreams of travelling the world are def. relatable. And her family owns a bookstore, omg. But ARGH I have huge problems with her involvement in major storylines of both books, which I'll try to discuss less vaguely later on. Let's just say I find her to be selfless to a fault.

Never mind the time travelling -- Bennett's teleportation ability is where it's at. Could you imagine how much time he'd save on the commute? (Not to mention bypassing the airport for vacays!) But the same thing that trips me up with Anna rears its ugly head again. UGH, BENNETT -- look at your life! Look at your choices! Granted, your life and your choices have some pretty extraordinary circumstances. But I reeeeeally don't like it when people fuck with time travel. (Again, more on that later.)

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

Anna and Bennett may have had insta-attraction, but their love develops gradually and believably. The two of them, like, actually get to know each other! CRAZY CONCEPT, right? Anyway, I'm probably being stingy with the scoring, but I had trubs just living in the moment through this couple. Actually, I may have been a Roger Murtaugh on this whole relationship, i.e. too old for this shizz. I couldn't stop thinking, what's the endgame here? How do they plan on sustaining this relationship? And Anna and Bennett just didn't have enough of a big, sweeping romance to silence my concerns.

Talky Talk: She Said, Then He Said

Time Between Us is told from Anna's perspective, while Time After Time is from Bennett's. Although Stone's writing is lovely, I didn't find Bennett's voice to be really distinct from Anna's. Not that I need a slew of poop jokes to establish "HEY, A BOY IS SPEAKING NOW". But I don't think I could distinguish a Bennettt passage from an Anna one, if both excerpts were stripped of telltale clues. Still, I found the story to be quite compelling -- even if that mostly manifested in me shouting "What are you boneheads doing!?".

Bonus Factor: Time Travel

NO DOI. I'd read a Betamax instruction manual transcribed in Pig Latin on a cocktail napkin if it involved time travel. And I always dig the dramatic irony leading up to the non time traveller discovering le secret. 

Bonus Factor: Music

Anna and Bennett geek out over the same kind of music, and Bennett also makes kickass use of time travel by sneaking into concerts in the past. (Just think of all the irreparably broken up bands you could see!) Some of the shout-outs are a bit wink wink, nudge nudge-y --  like, 'some band you've never heard of, [insert name of present day famous band]' -- but the musical frame of reference really helps to reinforce that Anna and Bennett live in different times. Although there's a shocking lack of flannel in 1995.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Playing God

(I'm about to get lengthy and slightly spoiler-y, so proceed at your own discretion.)

So these books have exposed my extremely strange time travelling moral code. Time travelling for concerts and kissing? Go right ahead! For financial gain? A little shady, but whatevs -- sure! But for altruism that requires a rewrite of the past? AWW HELL NO. Which is a pretty messed up stance, since I fully endorse "With great power comes great responsibility" and all. And I'm also kind of saying don't do good deeds!? Which is not my intent at all, but that's the alternative to Bennett's do-overs for helping people. It's just been so ingrained in me, from all the time travel pop culture that I've consumed, that you do not fuck with history. Because history will usually fuck you right back -- which gave me this great looming dread, waiting for the other shoe to drop. 

If I were a character in a time travel movie, I'd so be the wet blanket who's blabbering on about repercussions and consequences. There are def. consequences to Bennett's redos, but they're mostly contained to how it affects the characters right away -- rather than the full butterfly effect of these decisions. (Like, how did it affect the characters who had no idea parts of their lives had been redone? Other than just being plain ol' alive, I mean -- how much does the new timeline diverge from the original timeline? (I'm thinking of the relationship between Anna's friends, Justin and Emma, in particular.) And how different is Original 2012 Anna from Different Because of This Timeline 2012 Anna? Or has nothing changed and this is how things always played out? Was the loop closed? Minus the killing part, I mean.) 

I'm also unimpressed by how easily (and often) Bennett dropped his stance on being only an observer of the past and not interfering with major events. Anna may have encouraged his actions -- which is why I could not with her -- but he's still the one choosing to use his ability in this way. (But then again, if he didn't cave, there'd be much less book, so what do I know?) 

Casting Call:

Zoey Deutch as Anna in 1995

With this choice, I'd obvi cast Lea Thompson in 1995 as Anna in 2012. And since it's practically a character in its own right, I'd also like to nominate the following, even though I'm unsure how it'd look on Zoey. 

Lorde's hair as Anna's hair

Logan Lerman as Bennett

Given how much I've brought him up in the past, it's surprising that this is actually the first time I've cast Sad Logan Lerman in a book report. (Percy Jackson was grandfathered in for me.) But a baby face with shaggy hair and striking blue eyes -- that's a gimme.

Relationship Status: Rebound

I had no idea how much I missed my ex until I hooked up with this book. While it didn't fill that time travel romance void in my life, I still had a couple of pleasant dates with this series -- when it didn't veer into hot-button topics, that is. But Book -- let's not waste each other's time (HA) by staying together, OK?

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copies from my library and Disney-Hyperion. I received neither money nor froyo for writing this review (dammit!). Time Between Us and Time After Time are available now.

Mandy Wan's photo About the Author: Residing in Edmonton, AB, Mandy unabashedly loves YA lit, frozen desserts, and terrible puns.