Title: Time Between Us
Author: Tamara Ireland Stone
Narrator: Amy Rubinate
ISBN: 9780307967862 (hardcover 9781423159568)
Discs/CDs: 8 CDs, 9 hours
Pages: 368 pages
Publisher/Date: Hyperiod, an imprint of Disney Book Group, c2012.
And while the thief is distracted by the contents of the safe, three things happen, so fast and overlapping that they seem to take place simultaneously. Bennet disappears completely, and suddenly he’s kneeling next to me on the floor. He grabs my hands and closes his eyes, and I must follow suit, because when I open them, the store is gone. The robber and his knife are gone. And Bennett and I are in the exact same positions–him kneeling, me sitting, still holding each other’s hands–only now we’re next to a tree in the park around the corner, the wind throwing snow violently around us. (99)
Anna sees a teenage boy she’s never met watching her as she does her morning run. Upon meeting her observer at school and identifying him as new student Bennett, she confronts him and he denies the incident. Against the advice of her friends and her gut instincts she is attracted to Bennett, but Anna can’t shake the feeling that something isn’t right about Bennett. During a robbery attempt, Bennett finally reveals that he is hiding a huge secret and is actually a time traveler from 17 years in the future. Pulled inexplicably to each other, Anna relishes the opportunity to fulfill her life long dreams of travel. But as their relationship prompts them to continually break rules that Bennett has established, Bennett’s prolonged presence might be causing consequences that he cannot fix.
More mild-romance than mind-bender or mystery, if you combine Twilight with The Time Traveler’s Wife, you get this book, but in both cases I would go to those other books first. While this book also has a time traveling couple, The Time Traveler’s Wife had depth and substance and emotional draw that this book seems to lack. However, you still having the brooding teenage girl in a relationship that everyone cautions her against yet she feels that unexplainable and instantaneous attraction/attention towards him. I guess that’s actually the problem, because while we see the relationship in Time Traveler’s Wife grow and evolve, I didn’t get that sense here. It feels like their relationship grows out of intrigue rather than love, with all of the long, lingering looks and none of the emotional sparks that are supposed to materialize.
Anna’s friendships, including her relationship with Bennett, are less than appealing. It seems like she’s using Bennett because of the promise of travel opportunities, which she absolutely is intent on taking advantage of. Bennett himself strikes me and Anna’s friends as slightly creepy, what with his popping in and out of Anna’s life. Anna’s friend Justin, whom she has known since she was five, plays a very minor part in the book, and also seems to be used by Anna for music, whether in the form of personalized mixes she can run to or tickets to the hottest concerts. His possible attraction to her is mentioned ever so slightly and then ignored for most of the rest of the story, only to be thrust in our face suddenly towards the end. Even her friend Emma doesn’t seem fully fleshed out, playing the role of comedic side-kick more than a true friend. When the characters fight, which they do sporadically, they all seem to solve their problems by ignoring each other until one or the other gives in for no reason.
This is especially true when applied to Bennett’s rules regarding time travel, which he broke once with disastrous consequences yet that doesn’t stop him from considering breaking the rules for Anna, a girl he’s just met. The time travel portion of the plot is also marginally explained. While Bennett subconsciously/inexplicably realizes that he can’t travel to a time before he was born or into his future, the ending climatic separation between Bennett and Anna has no explanation. I don’t want to reveal too much here, but I wonder if answers will be more readily available in October with the upcoming sequel, which will be told from Bennett’s perspective. Also, as a reviewer pointed out on Goodreads, at one point in the story there are three Bennett’s in the same time line, which was loosely explained as possible because they weren’t “within range of our other selves” and therefore won’t “disappear”, which seems like a flimsy reason.
And don’t get me started on the ending, which I’m sure to spoil for readers who get that far. Let’s say the problem is solved but with no satisfactory explanation to decipher what caused the problem or how it was solved. I honestly wish it had ended differently. Amy Rubinate did a passible job at narrating the material she was given, but the plot left a lot to be desired in my opinion. Goodreads reviews are full of star-struck readers swooning over what I see is a lackluster love story. Maybe it just wasn’t meant for me.