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A novel by Julie Cross
(2013, Thomas Dunne Books)

Tempest, book 2

Working as a Tempest operative, Jackson resists the Enemies of Time, while trying to stay away from his old girlfriend, from whom he has distanced himself by manipulating time. But he may find out that his enemies are now who he thinks they are.


+ -- First reading (hardcover)
May 3rd to 16th, 2019


Unfortunately, the book was all over the place, and I could not relate to Jackson through the vast majority of it. It took half the book before something remotely interesting happened, and the entire thing to realize that his actions at the end of the last book were a poor choice. The mechanics of timeline manipulation was interesting, at least.

Spoiler review:

At the end of the last book, Jackson decided that Holly would be safer if she had nothing to do with him, so he went back in time and changed their meeting, so they never knew each other. Because of their relationship, he also disassociated from Adam. This is a common thing that selfish people think under these situations. We’ve seen it often in other books and movies, and it almost always the opposite -they are stronger together. So every time Jackson thought to himself that Holly was safe now that she was no longer in his life, I cringed. And I’ve never been so happy to have been proven right than by the end of this book -though they are by far more screwed up than they were a book ago.

The first half of the book, where Jackson throws himself into his work as a Tempest agent, was really boring. I could not get into the story, at all. The diary entries about Chief Marshal and his father, going on training missions with Mason, Stewart, Kendrick and the others, was not interesting, and slowed the momentum built up from the last book.

Jackson resists time travel, because Marshal advises against it. The secrets they keep from him make it almost impossible for him to keep his promise. The training mission with Kendrick, where they had to jump out of the helicopter, was nicely done, but the anger everyone displayed when the mind drugs were used in the cave is irrational. It was Marshal and the other leaders who did this to Jackson -why would they expect him to react differently. Of course, they hoped the pair would recognize the gas and ignore it, but how rational is that?

The mission to Germany gave us our first look at the real story, where the Enemies of Time planted a bomb to destroy the German Chancellor. All the young agents made mistakes. Why are there no experienced agents to lead them? Why does Stewart have to be the one to disable the bomb, which she fails to do. Why is Emily there to do it for her, destroying it so they don’t get the technology?

Then comes a mission to New York, where Jackson stumbles into Holly and her new life, a new boyfriend, and eventually the dance at the Senator’s office. I think this was my favorite part of the book, where Jackson wants desperately to reacquaint with Holly, and she seems very interested. But in the end, he remembers that her life is better without him, and ends the flirtation, but with great difficulty.

This is where the book gets completely turned on its head. They find another bomb, and Mason is killed, and Jackson vows to fix it by going back in time. Jackson ends up going back to the 2007 timeline, which is sort of a safe haven for him, as everything is going right there, and he gets to speak with Adam for a moment. It’s here that he should have realized that Senator Healey was never the interim leader of Tempest.

When he gets back to his home base timeline, he finds that Holly is actually an agent of Eyewall, something separate but similar to the Enemies of Time. So is Adam of this timeline, but he’s been killed. Dr. Melvin is also killed, and at this point, when the author started killing everybody off, it was a clear sign that the finale has to have something to do with going back in time to fix all these mistakes.

Suddenly there are many EOT agents, where previously there were only a handful. I think it was more interesting when Jackson’s dad found him in a closet in the first book and thought he was an EOT, because it was so rare. But we’ll see. However, if, as somebody says, the EOTs can bounce off the alternate timeline Jackson created, why does somebody else think they have no knowledge of time travel? They must be doing it themselves, even to move from one spot to another in the blink of an eye.

I had little trouble following the mechanics of the time travel, though I wondered how complicated the author would make it, because it seems to be spiraling out of control. On the other hand, that’s what the title of the book refers to, a Vortex, where too many people can time travel, which causes the world to destruct to become the future that Emily showed Jackson in the last book.

Finally, without Marshall or his father around, Jackson begins making rational decisions on his own. He finally tells Stewart and Kendrick what he can do. They formulate a plan. But the flaw is that it all revolves around making sure Holly is safe. So it backfires and Jackson is nearly captured. He ends up in a building where he finds a copy of himself -the one who replaced him when he jumped back to 2007. Then things become even more bizarre, as he enters a room where he finds all the dead people, like Mason, Adam and his sister Courtney. Emily is there, too, though he left her at his apartment with Kendrick and Stewart.

To escape, Emily helps him get to the future, her future, in 3200. They take Mason, Holly and Courtney with them (why not Adam?), and end up in the land of devastation, where they have to fight off zombies before encountering Jackson’s father and others. It turns out this place is where Eyewall keeps rogue time travelers, but I’m not sure exactly what that means. I’d guess we need to wait until the next book to find out.

The other mystery presented is that of Jackson’s father, who seems to be from the 1950s, not the 1970s as previously presented. Somebody brought him forward in time, but for what reason? Jackson gets to meet him, but we don’t learn anything about what happened. Jackson also gets to meet Eileen, the woman who was surrogate for him and his sister, their mother. It seems that she knows a lot about the future, but also keeps herself in the dark about many things, not wanting to change the events that lead to Courtney's or her own death. A true agent of Time!

Being the middle book of a trilogy, this book gives us a lot of questions, and messes up completely the universe we thought we were reading about. It will come down to the final book to clean up the mess -and I can’t guarantee that the ending will be a happy one.


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