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Crack your head, knock you dead, then Prince Harming's hunger's fed.
It's 1977, and Kenny Maxwell is dreading the move away from his friends. But then, behind the walls of his family's new falling-apart Victorian home, he finds something incredible--a mummified baby and a note: "Help me make it not happen, Kenny. Help me stop him."
Shortly afterwards, a beautiful girl named Luka shows up. She introduces Kenny to the backward glass, a mirror that allows them to travel through time. Meeting other "mirror kids" in the past and future is exciting, but there's also danger. The urban legend of Prince Harming, who kidnaps and kills children, is true--and he's hunting them. When Kenny gets stranded in the past, he must find the courage to answer a call for help, change the fate of a baby--and confront his own destiny.
For a debut book, this is really quite good. I wasn't sure what to expect when I first picked it up, but I certainly wasn't expecting to become so engrossed in Kenny's story that I didn't want to put it down. I'm thinking the author is going to make a nice splash with this one.
First, let me say that although this is a YA book, it reads like a coming of age story that adults can easily relate to, as well. So if you normally shy away from this genre because of melodramatic love triangles and angsty characters, don't be afraid to try this one out. Think of it as The Wonder Years meets Dr. Who...ish.
So why not 5 stars? Well, I've grown picky about what I label that highly, and this wasn't a perfect book. Most of the problems I had with it stemmed from confusion over The Rules of time-travel, and not with the actual plot itself. And since I have the attention span of a gnat, this could very well be mostly my fault, because I tend to skin over the technical (aka boring) aspects of books. I kept finding myself thinking, "Huh? I thought they couldn't do that?". Then again, I am also the kind of reader who is too lazy to go back and check out previous pages to see if I'm right or not. Sorry, but if I don't catch it the first time around, I'm just going to assume I missed something important...and keep on chugging. I know, I know. Somebody worked really hard to pour their heart into writing a book, so it deserves your full attention.
Hey, don't judge me. In fact, you're probably skimming this review right now.
Ha! Caught ya!
At the same time, I really liked that Lomax had rules to traveling through the mirrors. I've read books that allowed all kinds of things to happen willy-nilly because of some sort of time-travel device/powers, and it gets old...fast. How annoying is it to read and entire story only to have a giant Reset! button pushed on you at the end?
For me, these stories work better when there is a limited amount of change or damage that can be done by the travelers. That aspect of the book is one of the ways that Backward Glass manages to really shine. Can you change the way things turn out, without being able to change anything? A running theme in this book is that you can't necessarily change Fate, but you can control your Soul. It's also the main lesson that Kenny and his friends learn during his amazing year with the mirror. In life, much of what happens to you is beyond your control. I've always believed that the only thing in life that you can truly control is the way you react to what is thrown at you. What you say or do when something goes wrong , determines who you are and who you will become. Can you change the course of Fate?
But even if you can't, you can have the knowledge that you did the right thing and at least tried to make it better.
The story starts in 1977 with a boy named Kenny. Wait. No, it doesn't. It starts decades before, and decades after Kenny finds a dead baby and a mysterious not begging for help.
Add to that a creepy urban legend about a mysterious figure called Prince Harming (who may or may not be stalking the mirror kids through time), and you have a sci-fi mystery to die for.
The dynamic between Kenny and Luka was also pleasantly surprising, especially considering this was written by a male author.
Hmmm. That sounded less sexist in my head....
Kenny isn't some super-powered guy who has all the answers, and Luka isn't some fainting schoolgirl who expects him to protect her. She's smart, brave, feisty, and ends up saving his butt several times over. Luka equals Batman, and Kenny is her Robin.
And a guy wrote it that way?
Don't get me wrong, Kenny isn't some bumbling idiot, but he is just a teenager. He makes mistakes, gets scared, and occasionally loses his way. His heart is in the right place, though. And I found myself totally rooting for this kid to find his way toward a Happily Ever After.
And does he?
Let's just say that the ending left me with a big fat grin on my face.
The ending ties everything up quite nicely, but there is also enough wiggle room left over for a few more books. And since I have no shame, I pestered Mr. Lomax for what his plans are regarding these characters. I'm happy to report that if all the stars align just right, there could potentially be two more books. The first would feature Luka as the protagonist, and the second...well I don't want to spoil the ending of Backward Glass for you, so you'll just have to read it and figure that one out for yourself.