Sonia Ellis, Tumblehome Learning (JANUARY) Softcover $10.95 (220pp), 978-1-943431-31-1
Sonia Ellis’s Timetilter is an engaging, characterdriven young adult adventure that sets a group of discarded teens against a ruthless corporation with shocking ramifications.
Fifteen-year-old Singer struggles with a disability and with finding a place in her perfectionist family. When her beloved dog, Dublin, is given away, Singer decides to steal him back from his new owner. Disaster strikes. She finds herself caught up with a mysterious company, Collusia, whose newest endeavor is a gaming experience fueled by perceptionaltering drugs. Trapped in a world where time is experienced at a slower rate, Singer must band together with other troubled youths to survive.
It’s clear from the start that Collusia, the Timetilter, and the drug are nefarious elements in a larger scheme. However, the way the mysteries unfold keeps the tension taut throughout.
The drugs prove to be a fascinating aspect of the text, giving it a gamer feel. They cause every actor to experience time dilation in the same way—unless they lose line of sight. The only way back onto the same “time-dilation path” is to physically interact. Each character experiences the effects in a different manner related to their vision, and in nearly superhuman ways. The revelation of the drug’s true purpose is fascinating; it holds great promise for the future of the series.
Elements of the narrative connect to the real world. Embedded within the text, usually after key moments, are links with passwords to access actual websites. This interactive feature allows audiences to dig deeper into the mythology of the novel and to feel more connected to its characters. Key documents and notes add another touch of authenticity, particularly with their unique formatting and fonts.
While characterization is decent, characters tend to share similar voices. This results in somewhat awkward conversations and muddled speeches. It is sometimes difficult to connect the characters to their words.
Timetilter breathes new life into standard genre elements. The initial premise lures readers in, but it is the intense climax that throws the door open to a whole new conflict.
Timetilter breathes new life into standard genre elements.
ring true and anchor the story. Though the supernatural elements and the rules they follow aren’t always consistent, they supplement the narrative and provide a vehicle for intriguing historical, political, and religious commentary.
Luca’s characterization and personal inner journey are captured well, and Suzan is also ably portrayed. Their love-at-first-sight romance strains credulity somewhat, but its presence in the story never overshadows the larger plot. Myriad villains remain hazy, even as threats, and the tension that arises because of them is often easily resolved. The climactic moments fizzle out as a result.
Thematically, the ethics and brutality of the Crusades are explored, and though demons permeate every corner of the narrative, they are by no means scapegoats for the human characters’ horrific actions. Told from the perspective of the Christians, the focus is naturally on their personal and corporate sins, but the Saracens are not painted as entirely innocent, resulting in refreshing gray areas in a plot that might have instead been starkly black-and-white.
The Book of Whispers embraces its fantastical aspects without sacrificing the concrete, and offers an introspective glance into human nature.