In the Present Tense

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 13 May 2018

Member Reviews

This book is a combination of what we readers want. It is fantastic and brilliant and the mixture of all things nice makes it a brilliant read.
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*~~*ARC kindly provided to me for an honest review *~~*

- Review to come

Review originally posted on my blog with added content on Mikku-chan / A world full of words
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This is the first book I've read by Carrie Pack. She's clearly a talented writer--her prose is tight, and she sympathizes with even the most difficult-to-love characters. I didn't love everything about this book, but it was a pretty decent read.

From the start, I never felt very connected to Miles as a protagonist, only because the supporting cast is so much better. I feel like I got to know Ana, Adam, and Bethany more than I got to know Miles, which made it hard for me to get attached. Honestly, I thought Miles was sort of irritating--he's a reactionary protagonist instead of a proactive one. Everyone else around him worked to solve his problems, making them automatically more interesting, even though Miles is the one who can time travel. I was on the fence about Ana as a character for most of the book, but by the end, I was really invested in her. She's definitely a Problematic Fave--she makes a lot of bad decisions in this story, but she also has to deal with a lot of shit. It would've been easy to write her off as the nagging, vengeful, jilted wife, but instead, she's a compelling and realistic character. 

The time travel aspects were done pretty well. Unlike a lot of other readers, I had no problem with the time hopping parts. It felt like we were right along with Adam on the wild ride that is his life. We constantly have to look back and question where (and when) we are to gain context for a situation. It makes for a challenging read, but I kind of liked that. I've never read anything quite like it--or quite so well-done.

I think my lower rating for this surfaced about halfway through the book when the mental hospital plot-line was introduced. It made sense for the story, but wow, did it bore me. It just seemed unoriginal from the start. I was totally on board with all the conspiracy theories Miles was uncovering, but I feel like this "falsely imprisoned at a mental institution" plot has been done to death. The addition of Bethany was a nice touch, but all in all, it really made me lose interest, and fast.

The concept and character for this book are really strong. The side characters kept me interested all the way through, and they've hooked me enough to keep reading this series. But a boring protagonist and some trope-ridden plot twists prevented a higher rating.
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In the Present Tense tells the story of Miles, a 17-year-old guy who is completely in love with his boyfriend Adam, when he suddenly wakes up and finds himself in his 25-year-old body and married to a girl called Ana. When he finds out he can time-travel, he goes on the search for a cure, and his first love, Adam. 

I loved the premise of this book and the blurb really intrigued me. However, around 25% of the way through, I was thoroughly confused and wondered what I was reading. This was an interesting idea. I was immediately enticed upon reading the description. I think this was overall very creative, and it remained so throughout. I did like the writing style. It wasn’t absurdly special, but it was fairly nice with some great descriptions thrown about. 

I thought the Characters were the weak point, it really impacted how much I enjoyed the story. All the characters just seemed hollow and didn’t have much personality. I had a good understanding of who they were on surface level, but it never really went beyond that.

The relationships between the character also seemed a bit ‘planned’; you just knew what was going to happen between them, and it felt like the author made you root for the characters that were going to end up together, by giving them a lot of backstory, and not telling you much about the other characters and their relationship with our main character. 

There just something off with the pacing in this book, and I think it was due to the fact the characters talk about everything! Seriously, I love dialogue, but these characters talked about every emotion they’d ever had and every single detail of their plans.

So, in conclusion, while I didn’t enjoy some parts of the book, I still enjoyed reading it, but I just wish there would’ve been more to the characters. This is the first book in a series, and I don’t think I’ll be reading the next one. I’m not really interested in seeing where this story goes. However, I don’t usually like science fiction or Time Travel books, so that I might’ve had an impact on my enjoyment of this book.
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I loved the premise of this book and the blurb really intrigued me. However, around 25% of the way through, I was thoroughly confused and wondered what I was reading. Was it time travel, a conspiracy, mental illness, or a weird combination of all of the above? The plot was so "dense" that I feared I was missing something, and wondered if everything means something ..... or nothing? 

The characters talked (and talked) so much about every aspect, yet I never felt there was solid character development and the MCs remained somewhat shallow, IMHO. I wish I could say more about all the details of this book without spoilers, but all the mind-fuckery just plain wore me out, and the story just did not work for me. 3 stars.
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This book was hard to finish.  The style of writing and the time hops were frustrating to me as a reader.  It also made it hard to invest in the characters and plot.
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Summary
Miles Lawson is a normal high school student who is in a happy relationship with his boyfriend, Adam. That is, until one day when he wakes up and finds out that he is 25 years old and married to Ana.

Writing
The writing style is very crisp, but it works well with the story. It makes it feel very natural. But if you like to mark beautiful quotes in your novels, you might be a little disappointed.

Characters
For some weird reason I really liked the characters in this book. I say it’s weird, because they checked almost every single box on my “annoying characters” list. They make stupid, irrational decisions. I can’t relate to or understand their motives. Relationships between them lack substance and are very superficial. And they are still likeable! I have no idea how is this even possible.

Plot
The premise of this book is what drew me in. It’s incredibly interesting. And the beginning of the story is exactly what you would imagine. You are a little confused, you don’t really understand what this book is about yet, but you are curious. That’s great. The author also does an amazing job of creating suspense. It makes you want to keep reading. But the truth is that after all this excitement, the unveiling of the mystery is a little… lackluster. But then the book gives you another secret to discover. And another. But as interesting as it might sound, I couldn’t help but be disappointed every time. I think this book needed something a little bit more shocking.

Overall
I enjoyed this book. I had a great time reading, especially the first half. After I reached the midpoint though, I will admit it, I finished it only because I wanted to find out who is Miles going to end up with.

I know that this book is getting it’s sequel this year and I am really interested in it. I think this story has a lot of potential.




I recieved a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
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A great blend of science fiction intrigue and LGBTQ+ coming of age story, this book by Carrie Pack seamlessly blends a sweet romance with a thrilling time travel mystery. Miles first fell for Adam in high school, and it was love at first sight, so he was somewhat surprised to wake up one morning in bed with Ana, a high school friend who is now apparently his wife, plus he has somehow aged by almost seven years. It turns out that he seems to be suffering from a strange disorder that allows him to time travel within his own life. He slingshots between his seventeen year old self who is deeply in love with Adam, and a mid twenties version who is happily married to Ana, or at least he was until the time travelling problem started to manifest and drive a wedge between them. Desperate to find a solution he enters a mental health facility, only to find that the doctor running it has been studying him and experimenting on him since he was a child.
I really enjoyed the way the author cleverly blended the very different genres, and she handled both very well, The relationship between Miles and Adam is both sweet and believable, and the mystery behind the time travel aspect is very intriguing. The constant flashing forward and back in time took a little getting used to at first but once I got a grip on it, it added a nice dimension to the story.The book does not exactly end on a cliff hanger, but there is clearly more of this story to come, and I look forward to reading it..
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The first thing I did after finishing this book was look for it's sequel. I found out that it releases in August, so I rushed to NetGalley and requested it. I seriously don't know how I'll live if my request is declined.

This book is perfection. There's time travel, there's messy romance, there's YA and there's a whole lot of suspense. I mean, what's not to like?

Despite their many flaws, Miles and Adam are such beautiful crafted characters. They're real. So is Bethany.

I felt so many emotions while reading this book. I laughed, I cried, I felt afraid for them and I got angry. Damn did I get angry!

The character I hated the most though, was Ana. She wasn't supposed to be the villain in the story, but she's the one who I ended up hating the most. You'll know why when you read it.

All in all, In The Present Tense was a beautiful, mesmerising page-turner that left me wanting for more.
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In The Present Tense isn’t literary fiction. I appreciate this is a curious way to start a review – what the book is not – but most novels I’ve come across that takes on topics of an intellectual/political nature in the way Carrie Pack does are, ultimately vessels through which the author can show off their leet writing skills through a complex story arc, spectacular vocabulary and their ability to come up with the most convoluted sentences ever. It’s nice – if they’re aiming to appear on the A’ Level English Literature syllabus at some point in the future – but there’s just too much clutter between execution of concept and the reader’s ability to just enjoy the story.

In short, Carrie Pack cuts the crap – which makes this book accessible to a wide range of readers – and gets straight down to the storytelling. And wow, what a story this is. It tackles issues around mental health and illness, and I’ve got to say, as someone who has worked/teaches in the fields of psychology/psychiatry, it is wonderful to read realistic depictions of mental ‘disorders’ such as dissociative identity disorder and schizophrenia.

I also want to applaud the author for portraying the horror of enforced psychiatric incarceration. The way it’s done is not ‘thrilling’ in the typical thriller novel sense, but it is thrilling. My heart was hammering so fast at times, and I felt nauseous – the same reaction I get to real-world oppression. I’ll admit, my worldview incorporates an anti-psychiatry stance, and I sense the author’s sentiments are not incongruent. We might have left behind the vast asylums of the past, but a diagnosis of an acute mental disorder is, for some people, tantamount to throwing away the key. We need to see these people in our stories if for no other reason than they are invisible in the real world.

That’s only part of the story, albeit a very significant part. The time travel is done so well, but there’s little more I can say about it without either repeating the blurb or giving away key elements of the plot. I, like most readers, have a brain that skips past chapter headings and subheadings, so I generally had to hop back a few lines and read the author’s helpfully included dates. Truthfully, I was too desperate to keep reading the story, so mostly I gave these a cursory glance before once more submerging into Miles’s world.

While Miles is most certainly the main character, we do get a few different points of view, and again, these are all clearly marked by subheadings, but they’re also easy to identify if you do just keep reading, like I did, into the night. I forced myself to stop at 92% to squeeze an extra day out of this story. It’s so good.

Finally, the characters…well, this is where the author has really hit it out the park for me. LGBTQ+ main character, the politics of mental health, time travel and damn fine characterisation. There’s no sweetness and light in here; all of the characters have huge flaws, like real people. Some situations cast them in a poorer light than others, and the emotional impact on the reader is the same roller-coaster ride we get from our interactions with people we know. The only character I was 100% onside with was Miles, even though at times I wanted to give him a good talking-to or simply remove him from the situation. The traits/behaviours distinct to Miles at different points in time were also a nice touch.

I loved In The Present Tense from beginning to end, and the sequel is out this summer (2018)! I’ll be at the front of the queue.
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