Thursday, April 28, 2016

15 Minutes (Jill Cooper)

15 Minutes
(The Rewind Agency series, Book 1)
Jill Cooper
Jill Cooper, publisher
Fiction, YA Sci-Fi/Suspense
*** (Okay)

DESCRIPTION: Teenager Lara Crane would give anything to change one thing in her life: the day her mother, Miranda, was killed. The Rewind agency offers anyone the chance to revisit moments in their past for 15 minutes at a time, but only as a hologram, unable to touch or change anything... or so they claim. But Lara discovers she's different - and, against the advice of her boyfriend Rick, she heads back to take the bullet meant for her mom.
That's when everything goes wrong.
One moment, she's dying. The next, she's back in high school, and everything's different - even her. Instead of growing up in a run-down brownstone with her father John and neighbor Rick, she's living with her mother in a fancy home across town, along with two younger half-siblings and Mom's new husband, Jax. This isn't the life she bargained on, and it only gets worse when she finds out she's dating rich boy Donovan instead of Rick, and that John Crane's been convicted in the attempted murder of his own wife. When she learns what Miranda does for a living, illegal research in memory alteration at Rewind, and that she's somehow tied up with a powerful senator intent on changing the laws governing time travel, things go from merely bad to dangerous. The longer Lara lives this new life, the more her memories of the old one fade... and the slimmer her chances of stopping a threat not only to herself and her family, but to the whole world.

REVIEW: This starts with a nice concept and a compelling situation: a girl risking everything, even her own life, to save a loved one and get a chance at the family she always dreamed of, only to discover that she's lost more than she gained. Living a different life, she finds she's not the same person she was before the jump; her personality, her fashion tastes, even her emotions are all different. How can she call another man "Dad" when her real father is stuck in prison for a crime he didn't commit? How can the love she once felt for Rick be replaced by equally powerful feelings for Donovan, a boy she always considered a rich snob in her old life? Her admittedly selfish motivations didn't even net her a close bond with her workaholic mother, whom the alternate Lara came to resent and ultimately distrust... a mother who isn't as perfect as Lara imagined, even without her illegal research. This alone could've made for a compelling story - but then things go full-on suspense with the revelation of ties to the corrupt senator (Donovan's mother, no less), dangerous mobsters, and abuse of time travel and memory-revision technology, in a conspiracy that only Lara, with her peculiar talent for time travel, can bust open. For a while, the teen angst and time travel thriller plotlines fight each other, with Lara doing some rather careless things as she struggles to understand just what she's up against and whom she can trust. Most characters aren't as obvious as they first appear, though the ultimate baddies are cackling, hand-rubbing cliches. There's even an evil twin trope. The story feels crowded at this point, and the further things go, the more convoluted and hard to swallow the plot becomes. At some point, it just collapses under its own weight, especially as time travel and false memories come further into play. At the end, instead of a conclusion, I found a (telegraphed) "twist" that was supposed to lure me into the next book. Despite the early promise and some interesting examination of how much of our core selves depend on our memories and experiences, I just plain lost interest through all the forced twists; to have it all invalidated by a non-ending only reaffirmed my decision not to follow this series further.

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