Thursday, March 24, 2016

Review: Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor

Into the Dim (Into the Dim, Book #1)
by Janet B. Taylor
Release Date: March 1st 2016
2016 HMH Books for Young Readers
Ebook Edition; 432 Pages
ISBN: 978-0544602007
ASIN: B011H55S2G
Genre: Fiction / YA / Time Travel
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing.

My Thoughts
Into the Dim was an okay book if you didn't take it too seriously and especially if you didn't compare it to Outlander.  I am really starting to dislike those who compare books to other books as I really think it does a disservice to both the author and the book.  There is no comparison to Outlander, which I loved, and while I absolutely think a YA novel can be fantastic and complicated, it simply can't be like Outlander.  I don't think it's fair to the author entering a novel with that mindset as you are already going to be looking for criticisms and weaknesses.  

First of all, I enjoyed Into the Dim quite a bit.  As always, the mystery of Hope's past and ancestry was quite interesting and I liked how everything was revealed to her.  I am always up for secrecy and history, so I was quite happy to follow along and see how everything fell into place.  Naturally, the majority of the setting took place in Scotland; where else would an author set a time-travel mystery?  So many of these time travel things happen in Scotland and Great Britain, but as I love the history, I don't actually mind.  I think my love with anything Scotland has to do with my discovery of Gothic literature when I was very young and the mysteriousness of the land has sort of stuck in my head as something awesome, which is why I return to these novels, any genre now, time and again.  

The time-traveling aspect of the novel was a bit complicated and I actually prefer the more simpler versions of it, like accidentally touching a stone and poof! in the twelfth century.  This whole Tesla concept was a bit much, or maybe I just found it a bit boring and didn't really pay attention to it as much as I should have; I just thought the concept was a bit forced, and the use of opals a bit much.  

I didn't mind the plot too much, but I definitely didn't read it and compare it to Outlander. I actually prefer it when authors use modern language in their speech as sometimes it comes off as fake when they try to incorporate speech from the twelfth century.  Aside from books, we really have no way of knowing the common every day speech patterns, and as the language was so different from the modern language we use today, I think it is actually easier to stay with the modern.  I am French-speaking, but having read texts from the time period, I know I would have trouble with twelfth century French.  As far as the plot went however, it was fairly predictable, but enjoyable, and I liked the descriptions from the twelfth century.  

I did have a problem relating to Hope for quite a bit of the novel however.  I found her to be whiny, annoying, impatient, and a snob.  There were many negative comments about other girls and I didn't really appreciate them as it made her seem shallow, and whereas I think the author was trying to evoke pity from the reader, it only failed in my opinion. I get the author was trying to show Hope's level of intelligence by doing this, but it just made her look snotty and whiny; I'm sure there could have been another way to do it without putting other groups of girls down.  I also felt that Hope's anxiety was a bit forced, and used more as a plot point rather than an actual ailment.  When she needed something to happen, like a crisis, let's just use Hope's claustrophobia and panic attacks as a reason to create drama.  Being familiar with panic attacks, it just didn't work for me and left a bad feeling in my mouth.  

Into the Dim is the first book in a new series about time-travel, but for me it was just an okay book.  I did enjoy it, but I also had some issues with the characters and the plot.  I really didn't see a lot of development on the part of the characters, and thought the plot was a bit predictable, romance and all. The slower start to the book didn't really bother me too much, and I definitely enjoyed the actual travel in the twelfth century as I thought it was fun meeting the characters from that time period.  This is one where you will have to decide for yourself what you think.  I will probably read the second book in the series as I am curious to see what happens next.