Book Review: The Edge of Forever by Melissa E Hurst

I am a sucker for a good time travel story which means more often than not I pick up a not so decent one or a plain-bad one. Melissa E Hurst’s The Edge of Forever, fortunately falls within the decent if not mind-blowing territory.

Summary (from Goodreads)

In 2013: Sixteen-year-old Alora is having blackouts. Each time she wakes up in a different place with no idea of how she got there. The one thing she is certain of? Someone is following her.

In 2146: Seventeen-year-old Bridger is one of a small number of people born with the ability to travel to the past. While on a routine school time trip, he sees the last person he expected—his dead father. The strangest part is that, according to the Department of Temporal Affairs (DTA), his father was never assigned to be in that time. Bridger’s even more stunned when he learns that his by-the-book father was there to break the most important rule of time travel—to prevent someone’s murder.

And that someone is named Alora.

Determined to discover why his father wanted to help a “ghost,” Bridger illegally shifts to 2013 and, along with Alora, races to solve the mystery surrounding her past and her connection to his father before the DTA finds him. If he can stop Alora’s death without altering the timeline, maybe he can save his father too.

What I Liked

The Edge of Forever talks a mean plot and certainly demonstrates it by combining the following tropes:

  1. Time-bending, space-bending and mind-bending;
  2. High school drama;
  3. Family drama;
  4. Romantic drama;
  5. Clones;
  6. Secrets and conspiracies.
  7. Futuristic technology;
  8. Psychopathic serial killers;
  9. Murder, mystery and mayhem.

I have much applause for Ms Hurst who manages to combine all the abovementioned elements quite effectively.

It is sci-fi for those of us who do not hold PhDs in theoretical physics (or whatever denomination of science travel through time and space falls in) yet is kind enough to  keep it relatively complex so as not to insult our average intelligence.

Alora and Bridger were very average characters, in that they were still very much regular teenagers for their respective era, with regular neuroses, who just happened to be thrust into extraordinary circumstances. They may come off as not being very impressive at first, given that most sci-fi /fantasy characters are usually larger than life, but I found it quite refreshing that they were relatable to an extent.

Ms Hurst’s future was certainly very interesting.  Genetic manipulation leading to development of time-travelling, space bending and mind-reading abilities in people really made the nerd in me hyped up. The gadgetry, conspiracy and intrigue were but bonuses.

What I Did Not Like As Much

While I appreciated that romance was not the sole focus of the novel, I would have liked Alora and Bridger’s interactions to be a lot more engaging. Romantic feelings aside, I think these two crazy kids’ dynamics could have been, for the lack of a better work, more dynamic.

At times the narrative seemed a little middle-grade-ish which was at odds with the complex plot tropes outlined above. Some interactions and dialogues were overly simplistic and lagged in pace.

That being said, Ms Hurst continued to keep me engaged because despite the dip in pace, she kept the mystery and intrigue alive, getting me to turn the pages. Also, she more than makes up for it, the last 20 percent of the book progresses at an explosive pace,  with all the various plot-lines seamlessly converging into a heart-pounding conclusion. This ultimately mitigated my qualms with the mid portion of the book and geared me up for the sequel, which Ms Hurst has confirmed to me, is in the works. I think now that she has laid the foundations the sequel can be expected to be more gripping.

In summary, The Edge of Forever, personally, seemed for the most part to be on the edge of greatness (pardon the miserable pun) but a good read never the less. The precipice at which Ms Hurst closes the book is very promising and I definitely look forward to more.

 

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