“Jenny Kramer knows she isn’t normal. After all, not everybody can see the past lives of people around them. When she befriends Ben Daulton, resident new boy, the pair stumble onto an old music box with instructions for “mesmerization” and discover they may have more in common than they thought—like a past life! Using the instructions in the music box, Ben and Jenny share a dream that transports them to Romanov Russia and leads them to believe they have been there together before. But Nikolai, the mysterious young man Jenny has been seeing in her dreams who has now appeared next door, was there, too. Jenny is forced to acknowledge that Nikolai has traveled through time and space to find her. Doing so means he has defied the laws of time, and the Order, an ominous organization tasked with keeping people in the correct time, is determined to send him back. While Ben, Jenny, and Nikolai race against the clock—and the Order—Jenny and Nikolai discover a link that joins them in life and beyond death.”
To begin with, this was my first book to read/review from NetGalley. The publisher gave me a copy of this book to read and review. This has, in no way, altered my opinion of the book and what is written below is a 100% honest review.
I’ve always been incredibly fascinated with the story of the Romanovs and when I discovered that the plot of this novel intersected with the Romanovs, I was even more eager to read it! I’ve read many Teen YA novels that tie in the Anastasia/Romanov story, but this one was different than the others.
I cannot say that I absolutely loved this novel, but I also cannot say that I disliked it. I would say that Amanda Gray is more of a storyteller than a writer (which I’m in support of and would not consider a negative in any way), but it led to some confusion for me in terms of the storyline of this novel. Certain events weren’t fully developed and I barely skipped along behind the author’s actual intent. I could tell that Gray was trying to bring many different elements together and I’m just not sure that they all fit well together. Time travel, Romanovs, and the Order? I definitely had to release all preconceived notions regarding this book and remind myself that this was a fun, creative teen literature novel. Once I did, it was enjoyable!
It’s clear that the author was trying to form a slight love triangle, but it didn’t quite make sense. Maybe Amanda Gray was attempting to make the love triangle in her novel less teen-lit-cliche (and, boy, do I applaud her for that if that was her intent), but there was not enough development of Jenny and Ben. Jenny kept saying that she “couldn’t return Ben’s feelings” because it had always been Nikolai, but when did Ben ever actually show interest in Jenny besides some jealousy and maybe a touching of their hands? I don’t even know…?
Also, the characters seemed to overreact over the simplest things. Ben would shout and become infuriated very easily. The other characters were written in this way, too. I couldn’t take their emotions seriously! Emotions were exaggerated which always irks me when I’m reading a novel.
Overall, I’d say I felt pretty “mehhh” about this book. It was a fun way to pass the time, but I wouldn’t recommend it to friends. If you’re looking for a mindless twist on time travel with a semi-hot love interest and some Romanov history sewn in, try this one out.