I was lucky enough to read an e-arc of Time After Time earlier in the summer, and absolutely fell in love with Tamara Ireland Stone's world again.
I think that you'll enjoy the sequel to Time Between Us just as much as I did, and I hope you'll like my review!
Hardcover, 368 pages
Expected publication: October 8th 2013 by Disney-Hyperion
I had a lot of questions about TBU which I felt didn’t necessarily need to be answered – the lack of answers certainly didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book - but I wanted to see how Tamara would address some of the issues that I had wondered about. I had a feeling that her answers would be far more satisfying than my own imagination.
So as soon as Time After Time went up on NetGalley, I requested the book and spent a nerve-wrecking week crossing my fingers and toes that I’d be approved. Luckily for me, Dina at Disney-Hyperion gave me the green light, and I devoured the book in one afternoon.
Time After Time is just as beautiful and rich as Time Between Us, but in many ways, it’s a much more thought-provoking and adult novel. It challenges the reader to think about the difficulties of growing up, and what it takes to get to your personal happily-ever-after.
Though Bennett officially lives in his own time period, he coordinates with Anna so he’ll travel back in time to be with her on special occasions and important moments. The arrangement isn’t perfect, but Anna and Bennett are willing to do whatever it takes to be together.
However, after a series of incidents makes Bennett question about the impact of his presence in Anna’s life, he begins to wonder if their relationship is truly meant to be. The struggle to figure out whether they have a future together, will lead them on a beautiful, breathtaking journey.
Things that worked:
I fell in love with both Anna and Bennett in Time Between Us. They were drawn in a way that felt smart, funny, pragmatic and I felt like they clicked together in a way that just felt absolutely natural.
Stone continues her rich characterizations in Time After Time. Both Bennett and Anna are a little older and wiser, and they understand each other more than before. However, everything I loved about them in the last book is still in rich abundance here.
The same goes for all of the secondary characters. We interact with Bennett’s friends more than Anna’s this time, but even the ones who make brief appearances are sketched out, and completely believable.
It needs to be said: Tamara Ireland Stone rocks for not turning either Anna or Bennett into gooey, schmaltzy saps now that they’re together. They’re clearly very much in love, but you can still see the underlying friendship and attraction that brought them together in the first place.
Of special note: I loved how both of them are very, very sensible about the relationship – especially Anna. Even though they want to be together forever, they also recognize that it may not be permanent.
There’s a point in which Anna intelligently points out all the reasons that they may not even want to be together in the future, and I thought that her arguments were smart, informed and a nice change from all of the teenage YA romances where people cling together, because hey, it’s them against the world.
The moral of the story
There are a lot of life lessons in Time After Time, but I think the key lesson that plays out throughout the book, is the idea that things don't always work out the way that you plan. Even the best-laid plans often have unexpected hiccups - especially when it comes to Anna and Bennett's relationship.
Stone does a remarkably intelligent job of conveying how characters can grow and adapt to these challenges. Bennett figures out how to balance his home life with Anna. (To an extent). Anna stands up for her relationship. Without giving away too many spoilers, it's not only intriguing and beautiful to read about these two teenagers coming-of-age in a transitional period, but it's also such a wonderful lesson for younger readers to learn themselves.
Brooke was more or less the elephant in the room in Time Between Us. We didn’t get to meet her, but she was always hovering in the background, because she was Bennett’s key to being with Anna.
I loved the fact that we actually got to meet and interact with her, this time around. Stone did a wonderful job of making her feisty and impetuous, but also with the ability to swoop in and give just the right amount of big sister support, whenever Bennett needed it.
And on that note…
One of the things that I like the most about Tamara’s books, is the fact that family plays such a significant part in both of her main character’s lives.
In Time Between Us, we learn just how devoted Brooke and Bennett are to Maggie (their grandmother), and the lengths they are willing to go to, in order to protect her. Similarly, we see how Anna is quietly influenced by her parents’ actions.
In Time After Time, the parental/familial relationships become even more profound. Bennett has interactions with Anna’s family – both good and bad, and without Anna – that I don’t often seen in YA books.
(In fact, there’s a reference to Anna’s parents buying Christmas presents for Bennett at one point, which had me marveling at Tamara’s level of detail. Because really, that is the type of random thing that a parent would think to do, for their kid’s significant other.)
Similarly, Anna has interactions with various members of Bennett’s family that are just so thoughtful and well conceived, I wanted to high-five Tamara. Not only do these interactions add substantially to Anna and Bennett’s respective characterizations, they also make them more relatable to younger readers.
Of special note: I liked the fact that Bennett’s abilities weren’t kept a secret from any members of his family – including an unexpected member. It’s a refreshing change from the normal trope of teenagers having life altering secrets, which they must then hide from their parents.
I also loved the fact that both Bennett’s sister and Anna are so interested in meeting each other’s families. It’s just so normal. It also makes complete sense – they don’t have a traditional relationship, so they would obviously want to struggle for what normal couples have.
It’s hard to explain why the ending works without giving away spoilers, but let me just say: the ending is perfect.
Not all of the reader’s questions are necessarily answered, but Tamara writes the ending in a way where that doesn’t actually matter. It’s the type of ending where readers will close the book, feeling completely content at everything they’ve read over the last two books, and feeling content with the characters.
Let me put it another way: after I finished reading, I put my e-reader down, and went for a walk. I wanted to relish in Tamara’s ending a little longer, and didn’t want to let the real world intrude. THAT is how beautiful the ending is.
Things that didn't work:
However, after thinking about it, I no longer feel like it’s an issue.
In many ways, Stone has written about Bennett’s abilities in such a natural way, it’s like they’re just as natural to anyone who’s especially gifted in certain things – e.g. someone who has a knack of memorizing numbers; someone with a eidetic memory. Bennett’s abilities just happen to give him freer reign.
I highly recommend this for all readers, but especially for YA contemporary fans who are looking for a book where the characters value family, friendship and love, above all else.
Disclaimer: I received an ARC of Time After Time from Disney Hyperion via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!