School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Emery is a 17-year-old epileptic who claims to time travel while she is having seizures. No one believes her, of course, but then, suddenly, enough weirdness happens during an episode to get the attention of her father, who is a muckety-muck research doctor. While hospitalized, she runs away and meets Ash, a boy whom she sees in her visions but who turns out to be a real person, and she is suddenly caught up in a whirlwind adventure. What are her visions trying to tell her? Who is chasing her? Is all of this real or a product of her seizures? Flutter is an interesting read, and the characters are well-rounded. There is enough suspense to keep readers going through the slow spots, and though the story can shift abruptly due to the time jumps, the plot progresses nicely and combines suspense, family drama, science fiction, and romance. Though readers will most likely guess the ending, they will enjoy the ride.—Saleena L. Davidson, South Brunswick Public Library, Monmouth Junction, NJ
Children's Literature - Naomi Milliner
As seventeen-year-old Emery Land describes it, hers is an "odd little life." The seizures that have plagued her since age six have become so frequent and severe that her neurologist father has admitted her to a hospital for permanent observation. What truly sets Emery apart, however, is that during the seizures she appears to jump the time-space continuum, "looping" backwards and forwards. Although she fears the seizures will ultimately cause her death, Emery is determined to use whatever time remains to discover the meaning and mysteries of the loops. To that end, she escapes the hospital. She journeys to a small town where she meets a handsome stranger named Ash. His secrets seem, somehow, to be connected to her own. As Emery falls in love for the first time, she wonders if it will also be the last. Gina Linko combines the genres of sci-fi, mystery, and romance in this well-written novel. Emery and Ash are likable, sympathetic characters, but their on-again, off-again romance may try the reader's patience. Another flaw of the story is that, once revealed, the mysteries are disappointing and somewhat contrived. The ending, though perhaps inevitable, is also a let-down. That said, readers who enjoy a hybrid that will keep them guessing until the last few pages may find this highly original novel worth a look. Reviewer: Naomi Milliner
VOYA - Meghann Meeusen
Having spent much of her life in hospitals due to debilitating seizures, Emery Land wants a chance at a normal life. Yet Emery's episodes are more than seizures, transporting her physically to what she believes is not only another place but another time. Determined to uncover the mysteries presented in these possibly time-traveling "loops," and escape her scientist father, Emery sets out to find answers in Esperanza, Michigan, where she meets the charming and cryptic Asher Clarke. Emery cannot explain why she finds herself so drawn to Ash, but she begins to realize that not only does he hold secrets of his own, but he may also be more tied to the truth she seeks than she can possibly imagine. A unique blend of romance and science fiction, Flutter offers readers a captivating mystery and an even more engaging heroine. Although Emery's struggle is absorbing, the text misses a few opportunities, such as developing more multidimensional parental figures and exploring issues of disability with more purposeful attention. Additionally, the story is filled with enough twists and intrigue to keep readers at the edge of their seats, but the dramatic ending seems a bit of a let-down compared to the greater depth built throughout. Nonetheless, trying to determine the true nature of Emery's loops provides a fascinating journey and a distinctive look at the struggle between science and faith, as well as what it means to find hope and true independence in a complicated world. Reviewer: Meghann Meeusen
Billed as edgy science fiction, this novel's high-tech trappings conceal a genre romance with a hidden agenda. Emery's always had seizures that she experiences as time travel (she calls them "looping"). Increasingly disabling, they've weakened her body. Now she lives in the hospital, monitored by her widowed, neurologist father and his soulless scientist colleagues. While the looping experiences feel happy and serene, the transitions are killers. Emery's kinder, gentler future father warns her they'll get worse. A little boy she meets while time traveling urgently needs her help, and following his clues, Emery flees the hospital for a town in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Arriving, she notes, "Lawns were clutter-free, the shrubs trimmed even in this cold season. And there were no paint-chipped houses, no screen doors with holes. This was a place that people took pride in. I liked it." Residents bearing European names exude rural worth. By now readers are aware they're not in edgy, sci-fi country anymore, Toto, but metaphorical Kansas, and--iPod notwithstanding--Emery is 17 going on 75. Once she meets handsome, tortured Asher, her transformation is complete. Linko, who's authored Christian children's fiction, writes smoothly. Her story holds readers' interest, but the ending's bait-and-switch strategy--following shifts in tone and sharp turns in plotting (untied strings dangling)--will leave them feeling manipulated. Science fiction in name only. (Paranormal romance. 12 & up)
Read an Excerpt
“The loss of oxygen, however temporary, however minimal in the grand scheme of things, is taking its toll.” Dr. Chen spoke in low tones, but she knew I was listening.
“What was the length of this episode?” Dad asked. Present-day Dad. Distant Dad. Emotionless Dad.
I turned toward the window then and tuned them out. This episode had been long. The loop had been long, and I knew it.
They knew it too, I think. My body was having a harder time coming out of it. I could tell. My breath was still uneven in my chest, and I had been awake and back here for over an hour. My double vision had stopped, but still I knew that it was getting worse.
When I was younger, when I was little, I barely noticed the physical effects of looping. It was just my brain, my thoughts, left with all these odd little questions about the other places, the other people, my other lives.
Back then, I thought I was normal. I thought the loops were normal. Daydreams.
But I started to put the pieces together when I was about six:
“Her eyes flutter when she sleeps, Jonathan. We need to talk about this.” Mom’s lips were pressed together, and she had that fist at her hip, her elbow cocked out in that funny way, the way that always told me she meant business.
“REM,” Dad quipped. “Particularly vivid dreams.” He didn’t look up from his newspaper.
“Seems more than that,” Mom answered, watching me carefully as I drew with crayons at the kitchen counter. “And the stories she tells.”
Uh-oh, I remember thinking to myself. I knew they were not dreams. Mom knew this too, I think. Part of me wanted to run and hide under the butterfly bedspread in my room, but the other part of me, the part that was on the cusp of grasping that something different, something important, was being addressed or at least circled, wanted to stay. Even then, I guess I was hungry for answers.
“Tell him how I knew about your old doggie, Mom.”
“Jonathan,” Mom said sternly. Dad looked up from his newspaper then.
“Tell me, Emery,” Dad said. “What are you dreaming?”
“He only has three legs, and he has one black spot on his eye. He likes to play in the water. On the beach.” I looked at Mom. She nodded, urging me to go on. “He goes under the water and stays for a second. You get afraid, Mom, like he’s drowning. But then he pops up.”
It was silent for a moment while my parents traded looks, and then Dad said, “I’m sure you told her about these memories, Veronica. She’s seen the pictures.”
Mom shook her head. “Emery, tell him about how Bailey lost his leg.”
“Well, he got his leg caught in a squirrel trap in the woods. It had metal teeth.” I made a big chomping sound, my teeth meeting with a click.
“I thought it was just a car accident,” Dad said.
“So did I. That’s what they told me,” Mom said, eyeing Dad hard. “But I just asked my mother about it earlier. Emery’s right. Bailey gnawed himself out of the trap. Limped home. My parents concocted the whole story because they thought the truth was too violent.”
“Maybe your mom told her,” Dad offered. But Mom just looked at him, shook her head.
Dad studied me, like he was seeing me for the first time. And I knew, even at age six, that something important was going on. That I was different somehow.
I think I scared Mom back then.
I remembered how her eyes had narrowed at me when I had been about to tell my grandmother, Nan, about the loops. From then on, I just instinctively knew it was all a secret. That had been when I was about seven, right before Mom died, before it was just Dad and me against the world.
Then, a few years later, I was fairly certain I had my episodes figured out. I chose my words very carefully, and I explained to Dad that I was jumping the space-time continuum. And I think I finally scared Dad too.
I listened to the beeps on the monitors and let my eyes unfocus in the low-lit room, all the glowing numbers and blips fading into a blurry cloud of blues and greens. I bit down on what was left of my thumbnail and closed my eyes, swallowing hard. I turned back toward Dad and Dr. Chen. I took a deep breath and summoned my courage.
“You know it’s a loop, right?” I said. “Tell me you’re considering it.”
“Emery, of course—” Dad began, running his hand nervously through his thinning hair, his eyes avoiding mine. The gesture angered me. He was brushing me off.
“You’re going to go bald,” I said, wanting to hurt him. Something.
“In the future. Someday. I saw it.” I hated how childish I sounded.
“Don’t sweetheart me.” I tried to sound stern, but I was tired, and my voice was uneven, shaky.
Dr. Chen surprised me then, pulling up a chair and sitting next to my bed. “Emery, of course we are considering it. It’s just that we have to consider all the options in front of us. It’s not that we don’t believe you.” She was younger than some of the others. And she looked at me a little more like I was a person and not just a lab chimp.