When 16-year-old Carrington Morris attends an '80s-themed dance at her high school, she inadvertently travels back in time to 1986 and quickly latches on to the only person she "knows" - her 16-year-old mother, Heather.
Forced to navigate a world with New Coke, an MTV that plays actual music videos, and a mother who takes her to keggers and tries to set her up with the future mayor, Carri worries that she will screw up her future like she's seen in the movies. She befriends two nerds (who else would understand the time-space continuum?), who introduce her to the all-too-sexy Nate, who might just have the key to her time travel...and her heart.
When her mother's tragic past catches up to Carri's present, she'll need to walk a mile in Heather's jelly shoes if she's going to save both of their futures.
©2011 Gwen Hayes (P)2012 Gwen Hayes
Totally Tubular is the latest short story with an interesting premise I’ve picked up with some spare credit.
The premise and set-up were great and I really loved the voice and characterization of Carrington which were more well-developed then I expected. The fish-out-of-water take on a 2011 teenager send back to the 80s was a perfect mix of quirky, naïve and funny.
Sadly though, it does very little with the ‘time-travelling’ premise. Carrington’s present-day conflict with her hurting and distant mother is no-doubt what triggered her random trip back to the 80s to the side of her then teenaged mother. This is why I didn’t understand why she spent most of the book NOT with her mother!
Despite a fascinating premise and promising start in the 80s (including finding the two biggest Star Trek nerds in school to explain paradoxes), Totally Tubular devolves into a love story. Fortunately, the time-travel wrinkle does make the far more interesting than it would have been in any other YA story but that is not saying a lot.
The bottom line is that despite the fact Carrington has a chance to get a deeper understanding of her mother’s history, explore the potential she has to fix major horrors of the past or investigate further the extraordinary, possibly supernatural causes of her mysterious time jump; she spends the second half of the book kissing a hot guy.
Top this off with a total cop-out of an ending and the story left me pretty disappointed.
Still though, I always say that a story with time travel is automatically better than 75% of stories without it. I’m also tempering my review to account for the fact it is a shorter story and I guess didn’t’ have the time or wasn’t even aiming to get too deep.
Overall, I’d recommend tubular for anyone after a short, cute story. It was definitely well-written with a light, fun style.
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