Clockwise is different. In an enjoyable unforeseen way. A young adult novel that is not about a dystopic world that needs shaking and saving is novel in the young adult genre. Clockwise steers clear of futuristic societies instead, bringing along some baggage from the past. Time travel back into the 1800s!
Casey Donovan is not considered cool in school. Which suits her fine since she has other things that need her attention. For example, her tendency to jump back into time taking along whoever touches her in moments of anxiety or excitement. Oh and there is one more problem – She has a crush on the popular Nate Mackenzie who probably think she is a weirdo.
Elle Strauss, the author, does a sound job of establishing early on the boundaries of this time travel phenomenon. Same physical location, only the time jumps back to when America was planning to stop slavery. Casey is resourceful and has a sensible head on her shoulder. She has hidden supplies, ready excuses and a favourite family she likes to board with when she is on a journey back in history.
What she doesn’t bargain for is Nate’s sudden, but secretly very welcome, attention in a school dance. Dances mean touching. When Nate touches Elle, it is enough to send them both into her regular old era. I found it hilarious how Nate was convinced it was a practical joke and tried to remain calm and manly about it. Boys will be boys..
He and I were soon impressed with how well Casey could adapt herself to the lifestyle of old America. Casey and Nate pretend to be siblings because, in the 1860s, you can’t just roam around unchaperoned with a young boy. Casey has no control over when she returns to present day so for now, she is stuck with her crush. The pretend siblings get to a share a room! I could feel the thrill to be alone with your dashing school crush as he slowly, grudgingly admits to himself how much he admires your survival skills. A lovely setup for startling old-fashioned teen romance.
Back and forth between the years Casey travels bringing Nate along as fate would have it. They learn how hard physical labour can be. How to pass time without modern technology. They get mixed up in a slave revolution. Casey finds herself the recipient of an ardent admirer. Could she dare hope Nate is jealous? There is levity in the story while it constantly rushes ahead (pun intended).
More questions get answered about the mechanics of time travel, which is great because had the love story been less fun, I might have started to notice the hazy details of Casey’s abilities. But, towards the end of the story we get more answers. There are others like her who come from another time. I would have liked more Nate in the 2nd half of the story, but the end has a surprise satisfying tie-up which is worth it.
Clockwise is light hearted. Casey doesn’t have hard choices to make or governments to topple, but she is brave enough, adequately intelligent and a regular teenager in love. Plus she can time travel! I thoroughly enjoyed tagging along with her.
Looking for more YA book recommendations? You might also like UnEnchanted ..