Title: Time After Time
Author: Wendy Godding
Genre: paranormal romance
In short: so problematic it cancels out any good that might have been in the plot.
Goodreads: She has died countless times before, and she is not going to let it happen again.
Abbie Harper dies just before her eighteenth birthday. It has happened before, more times than she can remember — and always at the hands of the same man. Her dreams are plagued with past lives, cut short.
But this latest dream feels different. Her past life as Penelope Broadhurst — an English pastor’s daughter in 1806 — keeps bleeding into her present life in ways both sinister and familiar. As Penelope meets and falls in love with the dashing Heath Lockwood, so too does Abbie meet the brothers Marcus and Rem Knight. One wants to love her; the other to kill her.
Time is running out for Penelope, but as Abbie mourns her inability to change the past, she chases the slim chance to save her future. To survive, she must solve the puzzle of an ancient love story…and Penelope just might be able to help.
I have so many problems with this book, I could probably write a whole other book consisting of just ranting. So I’m going to talk about the plot first and then list out my problems. Here goes! Time After Time follows Abbie Harper, a seventeen-year-old girl who has crazy dreams of other girls from completely different times. Each girl looks unnaturally like Abbie and each girl dies just before they turn eighteen, just when they find the loves of their lives, killed by the same mysterious man. Abbie realises that the girls are her past lives (don’t ask me how) and that she will suffer the same fate too if she doesn’t do something to save herself.
Time After Time had potential, let me tell you. Even though its premise does sound kind of like Fallen, the idea that reincarnation for several people together occurs because of unsolved tangles is really fascinating. But…here’s all that I didn’t like about it.
Abbie. First things first, let’s start with our main character. Abbie’s surly, she’s isolated, and she’s pretty much living in her dreams. Literally. She resents her parents for leaving her at a young age because she was ‘different’—because she talked about the past lives she dreamed of. She lives with her aunt, and by God, she is such an ungrateful little—ahem. Honestly, she’s constantly snarking/rolling her eyes/generally acting up to her completely well-meaning sweetheart of an aunt. Her aunt has no idea what she’s going through or anything she does at all, really, and the poor confused woman is trying to connect with her. But Abbie’s such a Gen Y trope it’s ridiculous. She never tries to reassure her aunt, or do anything to keep her happy. For heaven’s sake, the woman is feeding you! She complains about the way she’s treated for being ‘different’—gag—and how no one ‘understands’ her. It’s sickening. Get your head out of your arse, Abbie, you’re not a special snowflake! Just because you dream about your past doesn’t mean you can put yourself on a pedestal. She’s such a rude person overall—she’s rude to Simone, her nice co-worker, she’s rude to Marcus, her supposed one true love, she’s rude to everyone who isn’t goth and special like she is. No, wait, she’s even rude to her goth friends for wanting to go to prom!
The romance. The past parallel romance is far easier for us to believe, with Penelope (likable, darling Penelope. And I don’t say this sarcastically.) and Heath actually speaking to each other normally and falling for each other. Even though it happened in a week. In present day, the romance between Marcus and Abbie is far less believable. It’s pretty much using the reincarnated soulmates thing as an excuse to say it’s not insta-love. Seriously? Maybe fate wants you together, but that doesn’t mean you don’t get to know each other first! It’s ridiculous, because they spend hardly any quality time together and they’re somehow soulmates?
Plot weirdness & Suspension of Disbelief. One thing that I absolutely cannot fathom about this book is how Abbie came to the conclusion that her dreams are her past lives. She already knows this by the beginning of the book but it makes zero sense to me. Imagine you’re having weird dreams about girls who look like you and are always dying. Oh, must be my past lives, right!
And again: guy who looks like the guy in my dreams shows up next door. Must be my soulmate! Are you kidding me? What reader will believe this stuff? She buys all these reincarnation-paranormal ideas just like, “okay!” I don’t even believe it in fiction.
Girl-on-girl Hate & the Mean Girl trope. Let me show you a thing, dear readers. Trigger warnings for blood and murder, I am not even kidding.
Why they bothered to pick on me I had never understood, but I was sure that if Lilly was ever in the same room as me, the same building even, then she would go out of her way to make trouble for me.
She took great pleasure in reminding me that I was an outsider and she was very much an insider.
“I know where the serial killer section is,” I replied thoughtfully, not breaking her stare. “You know, I read a story the other day about a girl who snapped and murdered all the stupid bimbos at her high school. Slit. Their. Throats. But not deep enough for them to die straight away, and it took them hours to bleed to death. Have you heard of her?”
The heck is wrong with you, Abbie.
For some reason, this trope is super popular in YA and it makes me so furious. You know what, I have friends like this. Some of my closest friends are the drop-dead-gorgeous prom-queen material, the Blair Waldorf-esque dangerous girls, the ones who will mess you over if you mess with them. But there’s the thing. Unless you have a specific rivalry with them, unless you did something to them first, there’s a one in a million chance they will pick on you the way Lilly Hamilton picks on Abbie. I don’t care who Lilly winds up being, I don’t care how speshul Abby is, girl-on-girl hate is never ever fun to read about. I’m starting to think it’s just a way of garnering sympathy for our MC but I guarantee you (this is for every author out there, really) I will not ‘awww’ all over your protagonist because some ‘stupid bimbo’ at her high school hates her. I will snap your book shut and rage about the stereotyping.
It’s this that makes some unpopular kids think they’re entitled to everything in the world because they’re a) smarter, b) less shallow, or c) going places while the ‘popular kids’ will peak in high school and wind up with beer guts and miserable lives. Is it so hard to represent one section of teenagers without putting down another?
Rem. Well, obviously he’s the bad guy, but his behaviour is so uncalled for. He’s literally following Abbie everywhere, nearly assaulting her, and for some reason she doesn’t call him out on that crap? If you’re going to have a character doing something like that, then have someone call him out on it considering your demographic is teenage girls.
Also what is with the tear-shaped pupil? Is that even possible?
TMI. This is partly the summary’s fault, but I felt like I knew far too much of the plot just going into the book. I knew which characters were going to fall for each other, I knew who the crazy killer is…What more is there for me to find out? Even reading the book, for a large part of it no new discoveries are really made. Even the ‘big reveal’ at the end (which I’d guessed from about midway), and Rem’s ‘explanation’ didn’t come as surprises because I knew enough to piece together a vague idea of it already.
On the Gothness.
“Is that why you dress like that? Why your hair is shorn off and face hidden behind gothic makeup?” he asked suddenly. “So I wouldn’t recognise you?”
If you were chasing me around so would I. Trust me, I don’t have a problem with Abbie dressing the way she does. It’s great. It’s great that she’s not alone in it either, and that she’s got some really nice friends who have the same tastes as her. I’m not even all that bothered by her strong opinions, and the way her friends are a little intimidated by them—because that does happen. What does sort of annoy me is that whenever we have an MC who dresses different in any way, they’re constantly told they look prettier when they’re ‘normal.’ Just once I want a character who dresses crazy and looks good in it too. Looks so good that everyone likes it. Come on! I thought Abbie would be that character, but she hardly protests when people comment on her makeup.
The author’s writing isn’t great either—somewhat jerky and iffy at times. The phrase ‘draw an image’ is used in present day, which sounds so strange if you think about it. Who draws an image? And then ‘okay’ is used in the early 1800s. ‘Okay’ originated in America in the mid-1800s not even the same way it’s used now, so if you’re telling me a Londoner in 1806 is using that word I’m unlikely to believe you.
Maybe this book just wasn’t for me, but I just couldn’t bring myself to enjoy it with all those things in the way.
I received this book as a free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to change in the final print.