Timebound by Rysa Walker, (362 pages), is the first in the enormously popular YA Chronos series of three books: Timebound, 2014; Time’s Edge, 2014; and Time’s Divide, 2015. Timebound has garnered 3,775 reviews on Amazon, as well as the 2013 Young Adult and Grand Prize Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards! Originally self-published, Rysa is an inspiration to all of us would-be self-published blockbuster authors!
When Kate Pierce-Keller’s grandmother gives her a strange blue medallion and speaks of time travel, sixteen-year-old Kate assumes the old woman is delusional. But it all becomes horrifyingly real when a murder in the past destroys the foundation of Kate’s present-day life. Suddenly, that medallion is the only thing protecting Kate from blinking out of existence.
Kate learns that the 1893 killing is part of something much more sinister, and Kate’s genetic ability to time-travel makes her the only one who can stop him. Risking everything, she travels to the Chicago World’s Fair to try to prevent the killing and the chain of events that follows.
Changing the timeline comes with a personal cost, however—if Kate succeeds, the boy she loves will have no memory of her existence. And regardless of her motives, does she have the right to manipulate the fate of the entire world?
It turns out that Kate’s grandmother is actually from the future. A few decades ago she time traveled to the past and got stranded there, giving birth to Kate’s mother in 1970. One of my favorite aspects of the plot is that Kate’s evil grandfather from the future time traveled even further into the past and changed history by setting up a new religion, Cyrism, which put him in charge. However, Kate grew up with a Cryrist temple in her town and the religion was just part of her reality. Creepy, huh? Inventing a religion based on yourself does seem like just the kind of stunt a savvy megalomaniac time traveler would try to pull off.
The other parts of the book that were the most fun for me were when Kate experienced alternate realities. One day she arrives at school a little late. Her dad actually is a teacher at her school and is her trig instructor. She gets to his classroom only to see him vanish before her eyes. When she looks again, there is an unfamiliar teacher in his place who doesn’t recognize Kate. None of her classmates recognize Kate either, and there is a guy she does not know sitting in her seat. On the plus side, the guy in her seat, Trey, is cute, and he becomes close with Kate. She is deeply pained to realize her mother does not exist in this reality, and is relieved to learn that her father does. He lives in a nearby town and she and Trey go visit him. Their reunion is bittersweet, because while her dad’s personality is the same, he has another family in this reality, and he doesn’t know who Kate is, although he recognizes that their eyes are almost identical.
This is a fun book with a very clever plot. It was fun to see Kate jump into the thick of time traveling when her services were requested.
- In Timebound, there is an evil religious group called the Cyrists that are growing in popularity. Do you think there is a danger of a corrupt religious group becoming too powerful in real life?
There are plenty of religious groups that I think would like that level of power, but the fact that there are so many different religions tends to keep them in check. I’m not sure that would be the case if one of the leaders had access to something like time travel, however. Prophecy and miracles would be pretty easy to manufacture, and I suspect that the new religion would find it pretty easy to winnow down the competition, especially if the new religion followed the age-old tactic of adapting some bits and pieces from other faiths in order to pull in adherents.
- What were the easiest and hardest parts of the plot to work out, and why?
Keeping the timelines straight became difficult by the end, partly because I had multiple timelines to sort out, and in a few cases, multiple iterations of the same character. It’s difficult to say what the easiest part of the plot was, because I’m not really a plotter. The things that were easy were the things I never expected–things that simply happened when I got all of the characters together in the “room” and they interacted. That’s the certainly the most enjoyable part of writing, at least for me…when the characters take a left turn and you discover you’re on an entirely different path than you planned.
- If you could time travel to any period in the past and stay for two weeks, where/when would you go?
Hmm. I probably tipped my hand on that when I wrote Timebound. My favorite time period is the early Progressive era, and I think I could learn more about that time by visiting the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago than just about any other time. I’d probably go in mid-May, since there was a huge women’s rights conference going on and I could meet Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, Jane Addams, and many others. Since I wrote my dissertation on the suffrage movement, I have a few questions I’d love to ask them. And I’d be certain to steer clear of the World’s Fair Hotel and H.H. Holmes.
Thank you for the interview, Rysa!
The plot was complicated for my brain. Kudos to Rysa for dreaming it up. When I faltered and was not sure I was getting it this youtube recap made all the difference.(*Contains spoilers!*)