Saturday, January 14, 2017

Timekeeper by Tara Sim

Two o’clock was missing. 

In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.

And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.

But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever.

Rating: 2/5 Stars


This book pissed me off.

Buddy read with Vanessa!

My issue with Timekeeper was that it had a wonderful premise; Victorian steam-punk London, clock towers controlling time and a romance between a clock spirit and its mechanic… but it just went to waste.

A summary of things that annoyed me:

-Danny was a selfish, self-centered asshole who ruined people’s lives and didn’t even care.

-The romance went from cute (albeit super insta-love) to weird, to downright creepy and disturbing.

-The relationship between Danny and Colton was abusive and manipulative, yet it was passed off as cute???

-The world building had no development nor explanation.

-No, seriously, the clock towers made no sense, the stopped towns neither, and the whole mechanics/protesters stuff was ridiculous.

Oh, when your main character is sooo great he’s hated by all. A memoir:

We have all seen this before, and it is personally one of my most hated tropes of YA. You got your main character, who is not like other people. He’s the “youngest mechanic ever”! He’s smart, he’s talented, he’s generous and apparently the only mechanic that takes good care of the towers (how the fuck don’t those things break apart more often if nobody gives a crap?). Danny is all of that and more, but he is also… (waitforit) hated by everybody!!! Yes, Danny is just so good, so pure that everybody hates him for no reason, the poor chap! It’s not like he’s a selfish and pompous ass who thinks he’s better than everybody and is willing to ruin other people’s lives to make out with his boyfriend.

You see, Danny is a mechanic and in this world where time is controlled by clock towers, that means that our main character was born with the innate ability to feel time fibers. For some reason that is not clarified, and despite the fact that without mechanics the world would be screwed because if towers broke, time would stop, being a mechanic is not a very well-paid job and many of them don’t give a crap about their work either.

Danny’s dad is a mechanic, but while working his tower broke and the city was Stopped. That means that a gray haze falls into the town like a dome and nobody can get in or out. The people inside are stuck on endless loops of time, unable to tell how long they have been trapped. Nobody knows what happened that caused the clock to stop working, but their only choice is to try and make a new tower to see if it can create a new time-zone to encompass the trapped town and therefore release its inhabitants. Problem is, nobody knows how exactly clock towers were made.

After an attack to a tower left Danny hurt and in therapy, he’s finally ready to have a new assignment so he goes to a small town where the clock keeps breaking apart for no reason. As Danny soon finds out, Clock towers are inhabited by clock spirits and Colton’s has a bit of a crush on him, so he keeps breaking himself apart so Danny has to visit him.

The premise, as you can see, sounded absolutely cute and interesting but it was just a lot of wasted potential.

I couldn’t connect with Danny, try as I might. I had seen in other reviews that PTSD was addressed here since Danny had been almost killed and still suffered from it, so I was curious to see how it would play out and how it was incorporated to the character… problem is, it wasn’t. It just seemed like the author used it when it was convenient for her to cause drama by having Danny not acting when it would help, and then promptly forget all about it. It was present at the beginning, but then quickly faded.

Danny’s attitude was horribly self-centered, and that didn’t help in me feeling sorry for him or connecting with his situation. He knew that falling in love with a clock spirit was trouble, his father’s best friend, Matthias, had always claimed he had met the tower’s spirit and fell for her, which apparently led to Danny’s father being Stopped. Yet, he kept on going to Colton and developing a super insta-crush (they kiss after three conversations I think, and the first two were “hello” and “goodbye” because Colton was shy) despite him knowing, and being constantly reminded of the dangers.

At one point his mother tells him he should have been more careful, especially since he knew firsthand what could happen and Danny gets pissed!

”Do you think I decided this? That I woke up and thought, you know, that clock’s spirit is rather nice, maybe I’ll fancy him? You know it takes more than that. It takes time.”

Way to shoot yourself in the foot, because that’s exactly what happened! They meet, and Danny gets all obsessed with Colton’s clavicle and his tight pants. Five pages later, they’re kissing and risking everything! It made no sense, especially when you knew that by doing that they were both putting their lives, and the lives of the entire town, at risk.

Oh creepy romance, why must we have you in every book?:

I have to admit, at the beginning of the story, the one thing that kept me going despite the confusing world-building and Danny’s selfish attitude, was the romance. The development was rather rushed (too rushed, they don’t know each other and are half way in love already). But somewhere, somehow, things got really creepy.

Colton threatens to hurt himself if Danny doesn’t come back. Although early in the story Danny explains him that, by hurting himself he’s consequentially hurting others and both seemed to move past that, it comes back later on in the novel with Colton threatening to hurt himself (and actually hurting himself more than once) if Danny doesn’t return by his side.

Later on in the story when Danny is kissed by another boy, Colton goes jealous and kisses Danny by force.

The whole scene was rather disturbing, and I felt really uncomfortable while reading it. I also didn’t like how it was tried to be justified by saying that Danny liked it when he had been clearly terrified and even tried to get away. When someone forces himself on you, it’s not passionate, it’s violent.

World building? Not here:

The premise of Timekeeper was really interesting, time being controlled by clock towers. Nobody knows for how long they have been, how do they work, or why they are there. Apparently, and despite the fact that these clock towers control their time, nobody really gives a crap to learn any of those stuff either.

-For some reason, and despite clock towers being so important, they weren’t guarded or even well taken care of. The characters often mention how the gears get so dirty the towers break down.

-There are protesters always complaining about the towers??? Why??? It made no sense, without towers, time would stop working and yet people believed that mechanics were monopolizing time and that it had to run free. Problem was, they wanted to take down the towers but didn’t understand that without towers TIME WOULDN’T RUN. Danny says this and that they are dumb, but then the story tells us that people don’t know how time works (AKA that mechanics don’t control the towers but rather maintain them) because “they wouldn’t understand the truth”. Like, WHAT!??? Which one is it?! The protests were so dumb, they were just there to cause drama because of REASONS.

-So protesters could make threats about bombing the towers but nobody gave a fuck? And then the towers were bombed and nobody thought that was weird?

-Why are mechanics so underpaid if they make sure FREAKING TIME runs well?

-How do time and the extensions work? When a time was stopped a grey dome fell on it and that place inside it was stopped, but what about rural places without towers? How do time works there that there are no clocks to provide time?

-At one point I remember telling Vanessa “I don’t get why this society is so extreme. They used to hang homosexuals and they treat Daphne like crap because she’s a girl mechanic??” And Vanessa told me, “well this IS Victorian London.” And I swear to God, I didn’t know this was Victorian London. I had to do the awkward thing of going back to the book and reading the summary to confirm it was set in that time and place because the story felt like in modern times. There was nothing to tell me the historical context and to set it apart from other modern fantasy books.

The ending was too convenient, and many things were still left unexplained (like what happened to the villain and how the heck they solved that big problem at the end).

Overall, Timekeeper had a lot of potential but it was brought down with unlikeable characters, flimsy world-building and nonsensical plots.

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