Expected publication: July 10, 2012 (Harper Teen)
Source: ATW ARC Tours
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Lydia Bentley has heard stories about the Montauk Project all her life: stories about the strange things that took place at the abandoned military base near her home and the people who've disappeared over the years. Stories about people like her own great-grandfather.
When Lydia stumbles into a portal that transports her to a dangerous and strange new reality, she discovers that all the stories she's ever heard about the Montauk Project are true, and that she's in the middle of one of the most dangerous experiments in history.
Alongside a darkly mysterious boy she is wary to trust, Lydia begins to unravel the secrets surrounding the Project. But the truths behind these secrets force her to question all her choices--and if Lydia chooses wrong, she might not save her family but destroy them . . . and herself.
I don't think it's any secret that I am a unashamed geek when it comes to most things sci-fi, especially any form of literature or television that revolves around time travel; so of course, I knew that So Close To You was a book I had to read, no matter what. This Doctor Who fangirl settled in with debut author Rachel Carter's novel late one evening intending only to read a few pages, and then the next thing I knew, it was 1am and I had stayed up JUST to finish this book...which should give you a hint that yes, I greatly enjoyed it. I thought it was a high-stakes read with larger-than-life characters who had a way of tugging at my heartstrings, putting a smile on my face, or just generally impressing me with their depth.
Teenage protagonist Lydia has lived her entire life with spooky stories of the infamous Montauk Project, including the rumor that her beloved grandfather believes - that his father disappeared because of the Project. Something happened to Lydia's great-grandfather, but even though she accompanies her grand-father on his endless fact-finding missions to the state park that houses the abandoned military base, she doesn't really believe in his wild tales...until she finds herself in the middle of one of them. I liked Lydia a great deal and thought she was a good voice for the plot of So Close to You - she was just an ordinary girl, your high-school valedictorian, or the cashier at the store you go to every day, so everything was fresh and terrifyingly real in her eyes. I didn't connect with her as much as I thought I would, so one of my minor complaints is that there were several moments when I felt more like I was reading a book than that I was in a story happening around me.
However, what I did love about Rachel Carter's debut offering was the right style - clear and concise. This isn't a story for the more flowery prose I sometimes favor; instead, Carter gets to the heart of the matter with Lydia realizing she really HAS traveled back in time to 1944. Lydia meets an entire richly developed secondary characters, none of whom really surprised me by being there, but were terrific additions to So Close To You. I love it when an author pays attention to the development of their minor characters - it shows they took the time and effort to think beyond the main character/s and Carter definitely did.
Speaking of main characters...I have to admit, I DID fall slightly in love with Wes, Lydia's possible love interest. In a story fraught with time-travel experiments and danger, you wouldn't think there would be room to introduce a swoon-worthy boy, but Rachel Carter did it. In fact, Wes is probably my favorite character. He comes from a troubled past, which we get to know a bit of, but there are still tons of questions (at least for me) surrounding him. He acts as a guide for Lydia in some ways, a conscious to remind her that despite wanting to interact and change things in 1944, she can't. I really wanted to hug Wes tightly before his part in So Close To You was played out.
My one big complaint is that, while watching Wes and Lydia interact, I couldn't get behind them as a couple, because we saw so little of them actually developing feelings for one another. For me, two characters simply being drawn to one another isn't a foundation for love, and I was a bit off-put by how absolutely quickly Lydia decided how she felt about Wes. I hate the phrase "insta-love," but I despise the plot device even more. Had it not been used so blatantly in So Close to You, I would have loved this novel even more.
However, in retrospect, So Close to You is a fresh look at time-travel and all its various implications. We've all heard of the butterfly effect, but Carter's novel brings new questions of morality into the age-old question. Despite a few weak points in the novel, I'm really looking forward to the second in this trilogy and seeing what else Rachel Carter has to offer!