In book one of the Time Zero series, Mina Clark and her friends escaped from a near-future Manhattan ruled by a fundamentalist sect. Time Next finds them out of the frying pan and into the fire. The Unbound capture and split the group up. At first blush, the community is advanced and peaceful. Signs of unrest and distrust simmer beneath the surface and it’s apparent Mina needs to regroup and get out as soon as she can. Unfortunately, the leader of the Unbound has other plans.
Time Next is the direct sequel to Time Zero and starts right where the previous book stopped. The narrative kicks into overdrive immediately and spares little time for recapping the first book. Nuggets of exposition are doled out carefully, but not enough for new readers. While readers will probably read it in order, having a bit more context from the previous book would be appreciated.
The worldbuilding is strong, thanks to using the modern world as a starting point. Pop culture references, familiar locations, and elements from current religions help ground the story. Futuristic tech, such as dumb drones shaped like bees or contact-based computers, as well as some of the more intriguing concepts, grapple with social issues and add interesting layers.
Mina’s goals are simple, and that propels the plot forward perfectly. Every action and thought revolves around both escaping and protecting her friends. Even when tortured and forced into increasingly disastrous situations, Mina remains steadfast in her convictions — all of which perfectly sets up the cliff-hanger ending that promises an epic conclusion to the trilogy.
Characterization is strong, for the most part. Besides Mina, the allies she makes within the Unbound community steal the spotlight. These teens are stuck in a community and live under a faith that basically rejects them. Unable to leave and barely able to adapt, they straddle the social divide and risk either expulsion or death at any given moment.
As with most YA novels, Time Next deals with important issues in a fictional setting. The novel focuses mainly on sexual identity, societal pressure, and faith. In the afterword, the author points out several aspects of the story are sadly taken from current real world examples. Between the fictional and the real, this novel should prompt some self-reflection and discussion for most readers.
Even as the second in the series, Time Next is an accessible and strong entry in the Time Zero trilogy. It’s a compelling story filled with thrilling action, intense drama, and romance. The characters are well-done, and the dialogue is snappy. Read both books before the third comes out and catch up before this series really takes off.
|Page Count||374 pages|
|Publisher||Girls With Pens|
|Amazon||Buy this Book|