Title: Into the Dim
Author: Janet B. Taylor
Synopsis: Being “the homeschooled girl,” in a small town, Hope Walton’s crippling phobias and photographic memory don’t help her fit in with her adoptive dad’s perfectly blonde Southern family. But when her mother is killed in a natural disaster thousands of miles from home, Hope’s secluded world crumbles. After an aunt she’s never met invites her to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic. She’s a member of a secret society of time travelers, and is actually trapped in the twelfth century in the age of King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Now Hope must conquer her numerous fears and travel back in time to help rescue her mother before she’s lost for good. Along the way, she’ll discover more family secrets, and a mysterious boy who could be vital to setting her mother free… or the key to Hope’s undoing.
Thank you to HMH Books for Young Readers & Netgalley for this ARC!
I can’t remember the last time I was angry reading a book. Like, really angry. But here you have it,Into the Dim managed to set me off as I was reading it, because I simply couldn’t get over what people think teens are like. Part of the issue is — this isn’t a YA novel at all. It doesn’t feel like one, and if anything it has the trapping of an adult romance novel, which I didn’t like one bit. Furthermore when it tries to be a YA novel, it just fails because it spends more time focusing on stereotypes that are already exemplified in other novels.
This book is being marketed as Outlander for teens, but if I’m being frank, teens should go readOutlander over this novel. The kinds of cliches that exist in this novel are so problematic, and I think if teens wanted a good romance novel, they could do better than Into the Dim. This book is big on slut-shamming, and suggests that aggressive and abusive men are perfectly suitable love interests.
Hope disgusts me as a heroine because she falls into the trapping of the “poor girl who doesn’t know she’s beautiful, but omg everyone thinks she’s beautiful.” The worst part is she makes such stupid decisions throughout the novel and is perfectly okay with an abusive male character. Collum is worst than Hope, as he’s described as being perfect looking, yet his only personality trait is that he is “aggressive.” Because all Scottish men are aggressive, and angry, and mopey. Again, we could do better than this. His treatment of female characters in the novel is so problematic and thinking back to the story just makes me seeth with anger.
Then there’s the time travel element which is just a hot mess. It makes very little sense, and while it’s important to the story between Hope and her mother, it doesn’t feel as prevelient as it should. The level of stereotyping, especially the intrpretation of Scottish people is just odd. It’s hard to really care about the characters in this story because they are either so mean or just have zero personality beyond “he’s handsome but mean” and “she’s pretty, but so so plain.” Again, readers can do so much better.
I think there’s this notion that teens aren’t smart enough to go beyond sterotypes and trappings within the genre, and that’s disappointing. I kept hoping it would get more interesting considering how much I love time travel stories, but this one just felt flat and confusing a lot of the time. I didn’t feel like I fully grasped what the author was trying to get at in the Dims usage beyond it being a connection between mother and daughter. It’d be interesting if both characters didn’t behave like such horrible people.
And that is ultimately my issue with this book. Nothing felt cohesive or even interesting! What this book represents is this logic that slut-shamming and one dimensional story telling is an acceptable practice. There are better written adult romance novels than this book. I just can’t recommend Into the Dim, because it just offers a message that I can’t get behind, and further perpetuates stereotypes that don’t need that. Don’t waste your time on this chunker of a novel, it’s easily worth the skip.