Sunday, August 10, 2014

OMG (Oh My God) (Bob Kat)

OMG (Oh My God)
(The CUL8R Time Travel Mystery series, Book 1)
Bob Kat
Fiction, YA Sci-Fi
*** (Okay)

DESCRIPTION: 15-year-old Kelly never expected to move from Texas to Florida, from a small town where she was homeschooled to a public school and her lawyer aunt's home. But a drunk driver taking out both of her parents in one terrible wreck changed everything. Maybe it won't be so bad. The neighbor boy, Scott, is nice enough and smarter than Google, and his best friend Austin is the hunky captain of the football team. Aside from Zoey, a cheerleader with her sights set on Austin, her future at Fort Meyers Beach looks promising.
While helping her aunt clean out the garage, Kelly finds a strange old device that may have been built by Thomas Edison: a telephone created to speak with the dead. With a little tinkering, Scott gets it working... and a girl's voice pleads with them to help her. Wendy died in 1966, and the newspapers claimed it was suicide. To investigate, Scott unveils a secret project of his, a cell phone app that should allow them to travel through time. Before they go, he warns his friends not to change anything - but how can they leave an innocent girl to die, especially when it looks less and less likely that she took her own life?

REVIEW: From the title, I was expecting a shallow, snarky teen time travel adventure, possibly involving modern kids introducing square cats in the 1960's to the wonders of hip-hop and twerking. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised. Kelly struggles to process her rapidly-changing life, including making new friends and learning to get along with her aunt, who isn't the maternal type but tries her best. She also wrestles with body issues... a subplot that I expected to get more page time, especially when dealing with potential causes for teen suicide. Her friends also have their strengths and their weaknesses and their inner struggles, which are revealed by a narrative that annoyingly head-hops mid-paragraph. Unfortunately, the potential peters out as the author resorts to unnatural explanatory dialog, making sure the reader understands the story and the Issues being discussed. It reads like a grown-up talking out "teen issues" using characters as mouthpieces rather than natural conversations between kids. Though billed as a mystery, there really isn't much investigation going on, as the potential causes and suspects are fairly straightforward. (It's also billed as a romance, which doesn't quite fit the narrative either; Kelly feels some fledgling hints of attraction for both Austin and Scott, and Zoey pursues Austin like a terrier after a rat, but there isn't any real romance or love to speak of.) The kids travel back to the 1960's, discovering that teens face pretty much the same struggles no matter the decade... a journey in which their Prime Directive ideals of non-interference quickly go out the window. The book ends without telling the reader (or the characters) the consequences of their trip; the eBook I read had a preview of Book 2, which answered a couple questions but left many annoying loose ends. (I confess I was bored into skimming, though - too much page time went to rehashing Book 1, as well as meandering through neice-aunt bonding time.) In the end, it's not a terrible adventure, but I couldn't shake the feeling that it could've been better.

You Might Also Enjoy:
The Time Keeper (Barbara Bartholomew) - My Review
Serpent of Time (Eugene Woodbury) - My Review
Back to the Future - Amazon DVD Link

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