As part of the tour, I had the opportunity to ask the debut author herself a question! Read on for that Q&A as well as for my review!
Q:I am always fascinated by authors’ favourite characters or protagonists. As a teen and young adult, who were some of your most-loved or admired characters? Did that shape how your crafted Hope, your own leading heroine in Into the Dim?
A: Ha! In another blog post here, I mentioned Meg Wallace from ‘A Wrinkle in Time.’ Meg wasn’t a super-hero. She was smart, though. And cared about her family. She definitely had an influence on Hope’s character. .Also…I always seemed to connect more with some of the secondary characters in classic kids novels. For instance—I was a Mary Ingalls fan in the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ series. No joke, when I was in the fourth grade I even wrote a letter to Melissa Sue Anderson, who played Mary in the TV show, And she wrote me back!!!!! And even sent me an autographed photo! I also related more to (another) Meg. This time it was Meg March in ‘Little Women’. I think it was because I like the gentler, more level-headed characters—who used their brains—better than the ‘spunky’ characters who always got into trouble, like Jo March and Laura Ingalls.
And—of course—I related to every Judy Blume character EVER. Margaret, from ‘Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret,’ and Katherine, in ‘Forever’ to name a few.
Thank you, Janet!
Review: Into the Dim (Into the Dim #1) by Janet B. Taylor
Source: ARC courtesy of Raincoast Books. Thank you!
Expected publication: March 1, 2016 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Verdict: Very Good
When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers.
Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing. Addictive, romantic, and rich with historical detail, Into the Dim is an Outlander for teens.
A taut and intriguingly wound story, Janet B. Taylor’s YA debut, Into the Dim, is a treat. Part historical fiction, part sci-fi/time travel, this novel successfully bridges multiple genres in a carefully structured story that boasts strong action and engaging characters. Through the first-person narrative of our protagonist, slightly prickly teenager Hope Walton, readers are taken on a whirlwind of incredible adventures. As the book description promises, we learn that Hope’s mom- thought by almost everyone to have died in an earthquake (except by Hope herself)- is most likely alive. But alive and trapped without any promise of escape in the twelfth century.
As someone who has had a bumpy go with reading time travel fiction (especially in YA), I am happy to say that I found this novel to be extremely entertaining and addictive. I think Taylor managed to keep the explanation behind the time traveling society grounded enough that it flowed and made sense within the context of this story. The world-creation of Eleanor of Aquitaine’s time period is done well: the ways in which Taylor crafts the particulars of the time- through sartorial elements, disease(s), sicknesses, prejudices and racism, pungent odours, lack of respect toward and lack of safety of women- all add to how smoothly the historical aspect of the novel works.
With respect to characters, I found myself growing more enthusiastic of Hope’s narrative- as the story unfolded. Her character took a little while to get into; she comes across as believably unhappy and lost, and fighting anxieties and demons but standoffish and judgmental. It was good to see her broaden her emotions and abilities as the story went on. On top of the sci fi angle, there is also a romance that starts to flourish as we reach major turns within the story. While a little bit on the ‘immediate attraction’ side of things, Taylor works this aspect out with a backstory (perhaps slightly rushed, but still cleverly done!) to make Hope’s intense romantic interest much more tenable and understandable.
Now, as someone who has not read any of Diana Gabaldon’s work nor watched Outlander, I cannot comment on the veracity of the comparison being drawn between Taylor’s work and Gabaldon. I absolutely see the appeal in having Gabaldon- a hugely popular author!- blurb the book and having the marketing promote Into the Dim as a YA Outlander…However! I would hope that readers who aren’t into Outlander or similar titles/genres not be turned away from Into the Dim as it stands on its own as a very well-developed and highly entertaining creation!
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Into the Dim and would recommend for readers interested in historical YA, time travel lit, or YA with a sci-fi angle. With intriguing characters, a tightly wound plot, and action to spare, Into the Dim is a great and much welcome surprise. Readers who enjoy everything from Jennifer McGowan’s Maid of Secrets series, Katherine Longshore’s historical YA, Kevin Sands’ The Blackthorn Key, or writers such as Maureen Johnson or Maggie Stiefvater might especially enjoy Into the Dim. I really look forward to what book two in this planned series will bring!
If you get a chance, be sure to check out the other posts on the Into the Dim Blog Tour!
I received a copy of this title courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review and for the purposes of this blog tour. All opinions and comments are my own.