Stolen Time (Dark Stars #1), by Danielle Rollins
Publish Date: February 5, 2019
Published by: HarperTeen
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
My Rating: ★★★☆☆ (2.5 out of 5 stars)
**I received this as an egalley from the publisher through Edelweiss in return for an honest review.**
Seattle, 1913 // Dorothy is trapped. Forced into an engagement to a wealthy man just so she and her mother can live comfortably for the rest of their days, she’ll do anything to escape. Including sneaking away from her wedding and bolting into the woods to disappear.
New Seattle, 2077 // Ash is on a mission. Rescue the professor—his mentor who figured out the secret to time travel—so together they can put things right in their devastated city. But searching for one man means endless jumps through time with no guarantee of success.
When Dorothy collides with Ash, she sees it as her chance to start fresh—she’ll stow away in his plane and begin a new life wherever they land. Then she wakes up in a future that’s been ripped apart by earthquakes and floods; where vicious gangs rule the submerged city streets and a small group of intrepid travelers from across time are fighting against the odds to return things to normal. What Dorothy doesn’t know is that she could hold the key to unraveling the past—and her arrival may spell Ash’s ultimate destruction.
I was really excited about this book when I first read the description. It sounded invigorating and fun, with lots of time travel and hijinks galore. And I loved that one of the main characters was going to be from a point in history, not just from the future like most time travel books seem to have. And while it started off well, with fast-paced action keeping me entangled in the story, by the halfway point I was quickly losing interest because I just could not find much connection with the characters themselves.
The plot, as I said, was fast-paced from the start. In fact, I’m pretty sure the entire thing takes place over two or three days. If we are counting a person’s sleep cycle and not the time travel bits. There was so much happening and so fast it felt like I was being sucked in and couldn’t get out. And by the time I reached a lull where things started to finally fall into place – explanations were given, backstories told, confusion resolved – it was already almost the halfway point of the story. There was definitely a lot more to come, with a lot of action and even more questions to be answered, (and, for a time travel book, there were only three time periods actually visited in the story) but I found myself forcing myself to continue not because of the plot but because of the characters.
Dorothy, at first, I thought I was going to enjoy. She seemed intriguing – a girl whose beauty was molded to be used to seduce and trick men, who wanted more in life than what she had. What this “more” is she could never really put her finger on, but she knew she wanted it. (If I could find a gif of Jasmine from Starkid’s Twisted singing “I want everything and more” I would insert it here because that’s what I kept singing everytime Dorothy wanted “more”.) I mean, I get it, she didn’t want to be seen as something for men to obtain and just as herself, which yes to that and all, but also that was her onlyfocus throughout the story. Everything she did stemmed from that – such as trying to prove to the rest of the team that she could do ridiculously dangerous things. Well, I guess she also decided at some point she wanted to be part of a team, but aside from her wants and desires, I just never really felt like I got to know her – just how she wanted to be seen by others.
And then there’s Ash, who, shocked me by being not from the future, but from 1945, and brought into the future. I thought this was cool and different for a time travel story and so I was excited to get to know his character. I feel like I’m still waiting to. Like Dorothy, his entire personality seemed to revolve around one thing about himself – and that was his knowledge of when and how he is going to die. His entire drive to find the Professor is to try and prevent his premature death, and his avoidance of certain things comes from it too. As a result, I learned very little about his actual personality, other than that he is stubborn.
As a result of these two main characters having the personality traits of melons, the romance fell absolutely flat. Part of it was definitely the whole three-day whirlwind adventure of it all, but mostly it was because neither of these characters had much in terms of “traits.” They were attracted to each other, sure, but the chemistry just didn’t fly off the page and make me really root for them in any way.
I wish I could say the secondary characters were interesting in some way but they weren’t. What little we saw of them was just that – little. It was hints at more intriguing personalities and back stories, and the interactions felt very straight-forward and bland. It was clear they were a team, but not in the sense of a close-knit one. I just didn’t get that sense of camraderie, or that knowledge of each other that people just get when they work closely together for a long period of time. I think the closest I got was seeing how Ash and Zora interacted with each other, the closest thing to a friendship I could actually see on the page. And even then, Zora was described as being closed off so often, it was hard to get a read on her sometimes as well.
The ending had a nice twist to it, although it was a little predictable (I had two theories and one of them was correct). I just think everything happened so fast, though, in the scheme of things, and that coupled with the lack of personality in these characters had me rather disappointed in this book. It started off well, but sadly by the end I was just forcing myself to finish it because I could no longer bring myself to care what happened to the characters.