The Children’s Book Review | April 11, 2015
By Karen Akins
Age Range: 12 and up
Hardcover: 324 pages
Publisher: St. Martins Griffin
What to expect: Time Travel
While most sixteen-year-olds aren’t so great at timekeeping, for Bree Bennis, being on time – and in the right time – happens to be kind of a big deal, especially if your education as a shifter at The Institute is on the line, along with your mum’s medical bills and safety.
It’s the twenty-third century, and while time travel is the norm, along with pesky robotic tru-ants and the ability to identity check through hair strands, there are still some things from the past that will never change, including mid-term assignments. Everything rides on Bree not messing up on her solo assignment, but when she accidentally takes a twenty-first boy hostage, Bree reckons she’s scored an A-plus in How to Fail Spectacularly and Break Every Rule in Shifting. The only way to climb out of that kind of mess is to go back and convince the boy not to blab. But only if you manage to go back in time far enough, which Bree doesn’t, of course. Blark. The boy, Finn, now happens to be slightly less nerdy and annoying, and kind of hot, but completely convinced that he’s in love with Bree. Double blark. Then, to top it all off, Bree manages to transport Finn back to the twenty-third century with her. Bree’s not even sure there’s a big enough rulebook for all the rules she’s now smashed.
But rule breaking and a twenty-first century stowaway aren’t the biggest of Bree’s concerns when she arrives back in her own time. Weird behavior, rising tensions between shifters and non-shifters, and a series of accidents that are anything but accidental, have Bree and Finn trying to connect the dots between seemingly unrelated clues. But Bree’s not the only one looking for answers. Someone is willing to do what ever it takes to prevent the future and change the past, and there’s only one other person with the knowledge to piece the puzzle together before it’s too late: future Bree.
Loop should probably come with a warning for your future self: you will not be able to put this book down till you reach the last page. This book made me very nearly late for work once, and my past, present, and future self didn’t feel remotely guilty. Karen Akin’s novel is quite simply a stunner: funny, fresh, feisty, and thoroughly engrossing. It’s rare that a book can outsmart a reader and leave them gasping in surprise at the end of each chapter. Bree is sassy and strong, a true gutsy sixteen year-old with real worries and fears, and none of that predictable Young Adult fall-for-the-super-hot-guy romance, because thankfully Bree is far too smart to fall for that: she’s got far more riding on saving her mum, and the future, than simply gushing over a cute boy. Akins boldly and humorously imagines the future, rendering it believable, smart, and entertaining. Refreshingly, this is a book that will appeal to male and female YA readers, as the story doesn’t rely on a whimsical teenage romance with a hot male to crush on. Readers young and old will be willing to follow Bree back and forth through time, because the heady mix of heartache and intrigue, suspense and adventure that leads you on and on until the unexpected end, is believable and relatable to all.
In Loop, the world-building is inspiring, the dialogue sharp, the story complex and delightful. If this is the future of Akins’s storytelling then we’re delighted that you can’t alter the past, however hard you might try.
About the Author
Karen Akins lives in the MidSouth where she writes humorous, light YA sci-fi. When not writing or reading, she loves taking care of her son and hanging out with her husband. And watching Downton Abbey. Karen has been many things in her life: an archery instructor, drummer for the shortest-lived garage band in history, and a shockingly bad tic-tac-toe player. LOOP is her first novel.
Loop, by Karen Akins, was reviewed by Charlie Kennedy. Follow along with our book reviews and articles tagged with Time Travel and our Young Adult Books category to discover more great novels.