3 out of 4 stars
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After a tragic accident separates Summer Thompson from her parents, the seventeen-year-old junior begins a new life in Cape Bald with her estranged aunt, Beth. Aunt Beth provides a comfortable life, and Summer settles into the everyday life of a typical high school student with a major crush on the handsome captain of her new school's hockey team, Tyler. Of course, the typical rivalry with the head cheerleader follows, complicating Summer's budding relationship with the handsome brown-eyed boy.
But Summer's life is anything but ordinary. When Summer discovers that the blue-eyed blonde in her vivid dreams, Chris Nolan, is real and that she's "traveling" to see him in her sleep, she begins to seek answers about her past. As Chris teaches her about her ability, he warns her about the consequences of traveling back in time. Still, Summer can't resist the idea of going back to alter the fateful day that changed everything for her. It should be simple; it would only require a minimal change. But if there's anything to say about time travel, the practice is always more complicated than it seems on the surface. As Summer spends more time with Chris, she realizes he's hiding something from her. Even Aunt Beth appears to know something that Summer doesn't. Will Summer learn the truth about who she is? And how will she ever choose between the two young men who war for her affections?
It's easy to conclude that If Time Stood Still was almost everything a reader could want in a young adult fiction novel. Paula Marie is an excellent writer, and she composed an exciting story that left me desperately wanting a sequel! I loved how this book introduced some unique "traveler" concepts and had me deeply engaged as the details of the secret Marie's Traveler society were revealed. Summer's character was relatable, and I loved how torn she was about her decisions. The complexity of her thoughts made her so realistic, and her reactions to the unraveling façade that composed her life made this a genuinely intriguing story. The author did a fantastic job of pulling me into the emotional drama that unfolded, and I was left with many questions and ideas to ponder at the book's conclusion.
Herein lies the problem. By the time I finished the novel, I was disappointed that some of my earlier questions remained unanswered. The finale was a bit abrupt, and there was no indication that there would be a sequel in the future. I wished the author had spent less time developing the love triangle aspect of the book or even eliminated it. While the story about Summer's rivalry with the head cheerleader over Tyler was well-written, it was a bit cliché compared to the Traveler plot, which involved a more complex relationship with Chris. There was enough Traveler material to delve deeper into introducing the rules, politics, and conflicts within the society to make this book fascinating from start to finish.
Still, the book had few editing errors and would appeal to a broad audience of teen and adult readers. If there had been additional details in the story to give a better foundation of what happened to Summer's family and what involvement Chris had in a few key events that were alluded to, I would have given this book full stars. Unfortunately, the ending and the remaining ambiguity left me dissatisfied enough to reduce the rating to three out of four.
I still wish I knew for sure if there was a second book, but for now, I'll have to wait patiently to see if a follow-up gets published. If you like young adult novels that involve love triangles, hidden secrets, and time travel, If Time Stood Still would be an appropriate book to choose. There were several instances of non-borderline swearing and hints of sexual desires, but the teens never got past intimate kissing.
If Time Stood Still
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