When The Unintentional Time Traveler popped up on my social media feed, I was excited. I’ve known Everett Maroon on and off for a while and do my best to support his work, so naturally I was curious.
I was also drawn in by the premise, as it’s a refreshing take on two genre tropes: time traveling and body swapping! The gist here is that Jack travels through time into a girl’s body, Jackie. Yes, if you’re a nerd like me it will remind you of Quantum Leap and it works for much of the same reasons Scott Bakula did.
But, while reading, I immediately realized that wasn’t the only draw to this book. The story is pretty cool after all, and notably Maroon’s prose is witty to hilarious. Seriously, Jack’s a fun kid. There’s a trend amongst male YA protagonists of being snarkier than thou, but Jack/Jac are the most believable I’ve seen in a while. What’s more, they’re allowed to be fun without it coming at the expense of making everyone else around them flat and boring. Even more tantalizing, there’s a romance plot…that is NOT what you expect. Certainly not what I expected, and I was delighted.
For me the biggest draw of the story ended up being the themes of transience and experiencing identity at a time when I really, really needed to read that. Identity issues are, and probably always will be, a sore spot for me personally as someone inhabits a multitude of spaces, so to read something that is pretty much an “I need to see this but how”? Right on time.
Now, for as neat as it is, it’s not a perfect book. The set up of curing Jack’s epilepsy made me uneasy for personal reasons, at least at first. After the introduction of the time traveling some of the loops got a bit confusing. I think due to the confusing loops, not all of the plot was cohesive to me and relied a lot on expository dialogue. But most of this didn’t detract terribly from my enjoyment and to the book’s credit it moves along at a pretty good pace. And, it’s the first of a series so there’s always the possibility that some of those gaps will be filled.
This book was my companion on a series of very (VERY) long and occasionally bizarre road trips and I couldn’t ask for a better friend. Grab a copy of your own here.