Title: Backward Glass
Author: David Lomax
Genre: Science fiction, YA
Publisher: Flux (October 8, 2013)
Rating: 5/6 – I loved it!
Synopsis from NetGalley: 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.
My Initial Thoughts/Rambling: My first thought when I started this book: I have not watched nearly enough Doctor Who for this. And then, isn’t that a paradox? Wait – can they do that? What are the rules of the mirror again? Ugh, my head hurts.
BUT, despite the effort I had to make to keep all the wibbly wobbly timey wimey bits straight, this book was an incredible pleasure to read and I’m so glad I stuck through to the very end, because now I have a new favorite book!
Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of Backward Glass from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
What did I think about the characters? The best part about these characters was how real and tangible they were. Despite finding a time traveling mirror, none of them become swaggering idiots, believing themselves to be superheros. Kenny, the protagonist and narrator, recognizes this, and states it right out that he’s no hero – he’s just a teenager trying to figure it all out. Luka, while precocious and probably the most Alpha out of the entire cast, has her moments of vulnerability. There are so many kids from each decade, but all of them play a key role in the story and have stark differences in their personality. I never confused any of the characters with each other, because they were so well-developed and three-dimensional that there was no way they would allow me to mix them up.
And the concept and plot? A+ for originality in concept. Between the mirrors and keys and Prince Harming and John Wald and the “auby one”, it was like an entirely new world was oozing from my Kindle screen. Remarkable world building, and a difficult concept explained very well! As an occasionally dense reader, I kind of forgot some of the rules of the mirror along the way while I tried to keep everything else straight, but Lomax always had a gentle reminder of what I had forgotten without being repetitive or pushy.
Plot: All hail David Lomax for keeping such an intricate and very-easy-to-screw-up-if-you-get-one-tiny-thing-wrong plot all in line. Seriously, the subplots and alternate timelines and parallel worlds would have tripped me up within three pages if I tried to write them, but Lomax manages to balance all of them and wrap them up so perfectly at the end that I had a huge Chesire grin on my face when I reached the final page. And the foreshadowing was done just perfectly – I figured a few things out, but never too soon in the story. Plus, just when I thought I had it figured out, there was another twist that left me scrambling to find out where I had gone wrong!
What about the writing style? At first I was a bit disconcerted, because (as you all know) I love a lot of description. There wasn’t too much of that, in the way of character appearances and setting imagery, but what I realized was that this story isn’t about the setting or appearances. It’s a coming of age story, and the really important parts are in the minds of the characters, and that’s what I really needed to pay attention too. So, applause to Lomax for making me realize that sometimes it’s okay, if not necessary, to forgo explicit detail and instead focus on the deeper aspects of the book.
Anything else you’d like to add? I’ll be really honest: reading this book was hard work. It’s a lot of stuff to wrap your brain around, and it was a bit overwhelming at first just because you have to change your perspective from a linear path to one with branches and circles and twists and crooks in the road. Once I made that conscious switch, I started to enjoy the book a lot more. It was entirely worth it, and I highly recommend this book! I know that for myself I’ll be ordering a paperback copy for my shelves when it comes out next month.
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