Flashback by Shannon Messenger
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I have to applaud Ms. Messenger for one thing: she accomplished plenty of plot advancement, character development, and the introduction of new mysteries and questions – without having the protagonist leave a “hospital bed.” That’s no small feat! You don’t even notice how far you’ve delved into the book, either, before Sophie manages to escape the Health Center.
However, that playing with time (and the fact you start to question things like muscle atrophy, bedsores, and the lack of school work) raises the question of the story’s official timeline. We’ve been with Sophie and her friends for YEARS? That doesn’t add up when I look back over things. I get it, the books weigh a ton and SHOULD capture that much time, but the official count of months, weeks, and days doesn’t add up. I understand the need to advance Sophie’s age for the “romantic” side of things (and don’t get me started on that – I needed to have twelve cavities filled after reading through it), but some long-range planning when you start to write a series can clear up this kind of thing. Even if you’re not sure whether a publisher will pick up your idea and run with it (and, yes, I know, you only publish tomes like this once a year), you need to run headlong into things with high expectations. Some readers (who shall remain nameless) pick up series late in the game and notice these idiosyncrasies.
Still, all told, the overall questioning of emotional tolls and family expectations? Ms. Messenger handles it with the grace of a virtuoso. And that leads to the disappointment of the final confrontation. You want a twist, a revelation, a surprise to occur – not everything everyone’s told you from the first page. It made things disappointing. (And, no, the “cliffhanger” didn’t make up for it) It comes out as a balanced read – enough to keep me balancing those hefty books over my head night after night.
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(And since that hit my initial challenge of 60 books for the year, I’ve reset it to 75 books. Of course, I ended up buying five books on vacation…and I already had another five in my To Read pile. So there’s a pretty solid chance that number will need to go up again. We’ll see how it goes)