Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Review: The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum

As part of my district's Local Author Book Club, we read The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum.  We actually met last month to discuss the novel, as well as had the chance to have a Q&A with the author.  This has been a really great opportunity to read more local authors, and for me, a chance to participate in a book club again!  For whatever reason, book clubs have proven to be impossible for me in the past, so taking another shot at one has been a great experience.

Synopsis:  Abby is having a perfect senior year and has the perfect boyfriend.  That is, until the new Italian student Dante arrives at school and throws everything out of whack.  Dante seems mysterious and spontaneous, while her own longtime friend and current boyfriend is predictable and a little disconnected from what she really likes.  Besides the intrigue that hangs over Dante, Abby finds that she's feeling off kilter a bit.  In fact, she has moments that just don't seem set in the present or at any moment.  Dante seems to have the answers that help Abby feel back in the present moment again, maybe because he doesn't come from the present, but more like the past?

Review:  In the beginning I really struggled to relate to the relationship between Abby and her long-time boyfriend.  While I understand that teenagers can fixate on their young love, I was a bit nauseated at times by the seemingly over the top romantic elements of the story.  Having spoken to some of my students who have read the novel though, they loved it and felt it tapped into ways they felt, so it must just be my age and experience (yes, and even my job as a teacher of teens) that gets in the way.  Abby isn't a totally helpless character, but she definitely has the "damsel in distress" element going for her, as the male characters play into the hero portion of the story. 

Once the story hits about the mid point, it really picks up speed.  There is a time-travel element to it that is intriguing, as well as references to classical literature that kept me on my toes.  Because of the unique twists in the story, it's hard to know exactly where the story is going, which is nice.  Yes, it has a love story.  Yes, a problem (a BIG problem) pops up to try to separate the couple.   However, you can't really predict what is going to happen, at least not completely.  In fact, the ending is so surprising in a way, that I'm glad I don't have to wait for the next book to be published to find out more!

One thing I did question in the novel, that really isn't a criticism of it, per se, but about young adult novels in general.  Where are the parents?  It seems like there are fleeting references to them being involved in their child's life, or even questioning them, but where do they go when their child is falling apart or risking life and death in some over the top action sequence?  I'm sure an author has to keep the parents less involved than some, so the character can experience a more dramatic conflict than the parent who keeps tabs on their child 24/7, right?  I get that you can't have the parents interrupt the story too much, but I've always wondered why the parents don't pick up on more of the craziness going on around them?!?

Overall, this is a fun book to read and consider.  While it had it's slow opening, and sometimes frustrating character interactions, it had a unique set of circumstances that kept me reading.  As a teen novel, I can say from experience with my students that they really liked it and felt connected to the story, which is a great thing when you're wanting to captivate young readers!

Lisa Mangum has also published Book 2, The Golden Spiral.  The final book in the trilogy, The Forgotten Locket will be released in May 2011.  For more information, see Lisa Mangum's official website.

*FTC Disclosure:  This review is based on a personal copy of the novel.

This review also counts as one of my 7th in the TBR challenge.  I'm not sure I'll be able to finish the challenge, but am happy to be able to say that this was one of the books I've had for awhile and meant to read!  Why I don't pick away at more from my pile, I'll never know. 


  1. I liked this book and would like to read the second in the series. But since they aren't in the library in this next of the woods, I'll have to wait until I feel like buying it!

  2. Hmmm, sounds fun! I can't wait to read it! :) Any hero named Dante is worth tossing your bf over for.

    As for parents, teenagers don't care about parents. Yes, you think, "Where are the parents?" NOW, but did you think that as a kid reading books? No.

  3. Tricia--That's too bad that they don't have the next one in! It's hard to wait to find out what happens. :)

    Heidenkind--Yes, Dante makes for a great name. No, I didn't think about the whole parent bit back then, at least that I remember. It's just weird to consider now, right?

  4. You are much nicer with your reviews than I am. ;) Thank you for sending me the book, though! It wasn't bad but I don't have any desire to read the sequel.