Out of Time
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In the almost two years that I’ve been writing this column, I’ve found that there’s one thing that will frustrate me more than anything (aside from authors who think commas are optional, that is) and that’s when I have to review a book that I find simply mediocre—or to quote my grandma, “mezza mez” (that’s Italian for “meh.”). It’s far easier to write a review when a book blows my socks off (like Eternal Nights) or stinks to high heaven (as in Philippa) than to write one when I’m simply unimpressed. That’s exactly how I felt upon finishing Out of Time by Samantha Graves. The book seemed to have it all, and it was innovative enough to hold my interest—but, in the end, it just failed to live up to its potential.

Jillian Talbot is a museum curator who possesses a curious gift. Though she calls herself “psychic,” her gift is that she can “see” the past—but only in relation to pieces of art or personal objects. For instance, when staring at Michelango’s David, she could conceivably see the famed artist sculpting his masterpiece. Next, we have Simon Bonner, a tomb raider who’s trying to get out of the biz. Bitter and cynical from years of being betrayed by everyone from his best friend to his ex-wife, Simon is sort of like Indiana Jones gone slightly to pot.

When an old friend shows up on Simon’s doorstep, bleeding to death from a gunshot wound, Simon is talked into one last caper. In order to make sure a 15,000-year-old crystal lens—which, apparently, is the key to an archive of ancient knowledge—doesn’t end up in the wrong hands, he winds up kidnapping Jillian, since she’s the only person who can use it. The two travel to Mexico, where they meet up with several secondary characters who help them find the archive—all the while trying to stay one step ahead of the bad guys who are hell-bent on getting the archive for their own nefarious plans.

When Simon and Jillian first meet, they naturally hate each other—Simon did kidnap her, after all. But, while in Mexico, the two fall in love (as evidenced by a few so-so love scenes). Graves does a good job of showing the two characters’ progression from hatred to wariness to love. My main complaint with this novel, though, is that Graves just touches on certain topics without fully fleshing them out. For instance, Jillian’s gift is a very interesting and unusual twist on being psychic, but Graves doesn’t utilize the skill enough. Jillian barely uses her gift, except at the very end of the novel—and even then her “sight” manifests itself differently than how it was first explained.

Another instance where Graves doesn’t allow the book to reach its full potential is with Simon. He’s painted as a cynical and bitter S.O.B. who’s been betrayed left, right, and center. But Graves never goes in the real nuts and bolts of the betrayal, so Simon just comes off as sort of a jerk.

Out of Time seems to have it all: adventure, love, art; but, in the end, it all sort of falls flat. This isn’t one of those books where I say “Ugh! I’ll never read that again!” but I couldn’t bring myself to sing its praises, either. But I think I’ll just stick to Indiana Jones when I want a good archaeology story.

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