Monday, February 24, 2014

Neverwas, Otherwhen & Maybe Soon...

Published:  January 7th, 2014
Neverwas (The Amber House Trilogy #2)
By: Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed, & Larkin Reed
Arthur A. Levine
ISBN-13:  9780545434188

"I was sixteen the second time I had my first kiss..."

At the end of AMBER HOUSE, Sarah made a choice that transformed everything -- and now she must choose it all again.

Things are very different -- better -- for Sarah and her family: her Aunt Maggie grew up; her parents are happily married; her grandmother died after a long, productive and respected life.  But other things are different too, and not for the better.

After growing up in the free country of the Pacific Northwest, Sarah Parsons has settled in at Amber House, the stately Maryland home that's been in her family for generations.  But the world surrounding the House feels deeply wrong to Sarah.  It's a place where the colonists lost the 1776 Insurrection, where the American Confederation of States still struggles with segregation, and where Sarah is haunted by echoes of a better world that she knows never existed.

Her friend Jackson shares these visions of a different world -- and together, they manage both to remember the way things ought to be, and to plan a daring mission that will reset the universe once again.  Sarah must figure out what has changed, and why, and how she can fix it -- how she can find her way to an otherwhen.


     I can see why some people would be confused by this book, especially the theory behind the alternate history in it.  It's a whole Hell of a lot to take in, even if you have read the first book in the series.  I did understand that in saving her younger brother, Sarah has managed to reset time.  She is now living in an alternate reality, where the colonists lost the Revolutionary War (known as the "Insurrection") and "America" doesn't exist as we know it.  Slavery continued a lot later on, the Civil Rights movement is basically happening now and North "America" is divided up into territories (the naming of the land as the American Confederation of States confuses me, as it's NOT really America).  In Sarah's own life, her Aunt Maggie is still alive, her brother Sam is okay, her Grandma wasn't a lonely alcoholic who drank herself to death and her parents are still marries.  For the Parsons family, life is good.  Everyone else, not so much.  Oh, and did I forget to mention that the Nazis won WWII and they are still around as a major political influence?  But the major mystery is what exactly did Sarah do that changed things so drastically?  Just saving Sam, or even Maggie couldn't have caused such a ripple effect, so far back in time.  So what else is different?  Where does the buck stop?  And just what lengths will Sara have to go to, to make the world the way it should be?
     I enjoyed trying to figure out the catalyst for the time travel and the break as to where the major shift was caused.  I definitely loved all of the intricacies of the plot involving Sarah's family history and the way it played into the present of the alternate timeline - and Sarah's original timeline as well.  As in the first book, Amber House in this one seemed like a living character alongside all of the people.  The addition of Aunt Maggie mixed things up in the family dynamic, with it causing Sarah and Sammy to not be quite as close as in the original scenario.  Also, the cultural differences definitely showed us that this Sarah was different from the old Sarah.  Similar in some ways, but definitely different in others (this Sarah loves designers, is comfortable with wealth, and only seems to be liberal when it suits her to be).  The relationships between Sarah and Jackson, & Sarah and Richard were at a contrast in different ways in this book than in the first.  Especially with a South that is reminiscent of Jim Crow era-South in our own timeline.  
      Sarah's biggest challenge in this book is to do what she knows to be right.  She spends a lot of the book trying to puzzle through her visions of an alternate timeline, with some help from Jackson, and waffles quite a bit on whether or not she wants to mess with the timeline again.  What if she makes things worse this time around?  Is it worth trying to get back to where she was, if it means the possibility of something even more horrific than her current time?  Probably the biggest problem for me was the contradictions of the alternate timeline.  At times it felt completely clear to me, and others it was a bit of a muddled haze.  How could a failed Insurrection in 1776 lead to WWII?  With a skewed geography, history and timeline of events, you'd think Europe would be more heavily effected than it seemed to be.  Also that means WWI still happened in this timeline.  How much different or the same was that from originally?  This is just the nitpicky history nerd in me though, dying to puzzle everything out, and fit it together!  Overall though, it's definitely a pulse-pounding adventure, sweet romance, historical mystery and time travel adventure of the one-of-a-kind variety!  It keeps you thinking the whole way through, and if you're willing to suspend some disbelief and enjoyed the first one, you should check it out!  Personally I can't wait to see how the ladies resolve it this time around, in the last book!

VERDICT:  3.5/5 Stars

*I received this book from Scholastic on NetGalley.  No favors or money were exchanged for this review.  This book was published on January 7th, 2014.*

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