Into the Dim #1
by Janet B. Taylor
Published on March 1, 2016 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Young Adult
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When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing.
Goodness, I had high hopes for this book, especially upon hearing that it was perfect for fans of Outlander, which I loved. What I found was a lot of potential but nothing memorable.
So some similarities. It’s hard to not compare this book to Outlander if you’ve either read the book and/or watch the show because Into the Dim is about a girl who travels back in time to Scotland. And there’s a romance involved. The issue is that I constantly found myself comparing the two and found Into the Dim lacking.
Outside of that, I can’t say I found the book particularly memorable. I struggled to push through it and retained very little upon finishing. Hope was a decent protagonist but didn’t stand out among the many other heroines of YA fiction. She was neither overly strong-willed nor was she a mouse when faced with opposition. If anything, she was a good balance within a group of more “extreme” characters (at least extreme compared to her own personality). Hope was just… there.
She goes to Scotland after the death of her mother and becomes the special snowflake the world needs her to be, finding a boy who hangs on her every word while she doesn’t realize how “amazing” she is. This blossoms into a forced romance that rears its head later on in the story. It’s a lot of insta-love and not in the good way.
Now there is time travel in this book and that’s always a hit or miss with me. I had hoped that maybe they would travel back to the Scottish Highlands since the story was keeping up with the Outlander similarities so far. Instead, the only mentions of Scotland come through with the characters before they travel back to London instead.
Alright, historical YA, that’s cool. We’re going to explore the world, right? Eh… not really. Hope follows the rest of her small team around London but you don’t really get to see the world. You meet a few characters but it didn’t feel like I went back in time. Except for the use of the really strong accents that were a bit over the top (both while in historical London and modern day Scotland). I’ve read a number of historical fiction novels and somehow they all manage to come across as authentic without driving the reader crazy as this tended to do to me at times.
I can’t say I would recommend this book to fans of Outlander because you’re likely to be disappointed. The combination of the insta-romance and the lack of historical elements make it a poor comparison, and I don’t think it’s an accurate one to make. Into the Dim wasn’t an altogether bad book but didn’t make me overly eager to read the sequel.