Check out what I thought about INTO THE DIM, which was pitched as a YA Outlander!
When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing. Addictive, romantic, and rich with historical detail, Into the Dim is an Outlander for teens.
Brittany recommended this book to me, so I was super stoked when Edelweiss granted me an e-arc.
Let’s do this review in list form!
*Ummm… the slut shaming was so painful. Cut that shit out.
“The redneck boys where I was from preferred girls like my cheerleader cousins. Size two. Blond. Busty. Brainless.”
First of all, stop perpetuating shameful and mean myths about cheerleaders. And blonds. And people who are slim or have big boobs. And also, do size 2 girls have big boobs? Wouldn’t that cause massive back strain?
“But then again, I’m not one of those slutty St. Sebastian girls.”
Umm… Hope, you just got to Scotland. You don’t even know anyone from St. Sebastian. And even if you did, rude and unnecessary.
There was also some ageism thrown in there (“How can someone so old move like that?” “Though you look pretty good for an old gal, I must say.”). It just really made for an unpleasant reading experience whenever it would appear.
*Historical inaccuracies. Rachel, a prominent Jewish character, tells Hope that her family came to England after her people were forced out of France. I was confused by this since in my Intro to Medieval History class we learned that Jews were not expelled from France until the 1300s. Furthermore, the first country to expel Jews was England (in the 1200s) (This book takes place in 1154). I did a little poking around online and found that Philip Augustus of France did expel Jews from his properties in 1182, but that’s still 30 years in the future.
*What makes this inaccuracy more uncomfortable is that Taylor’s England is super Anti-Semitic, which was just as painful to read as the slut shaming and ageism.
“It sickens me that our king would allow a Jew to even enter his palace, much less tend to his queen.”
“…wondered what a Jewess had between her legs.”
“Until the Godless Jews are scourged from this land, decent Christian folk are not safe.”
“It’s a Jewess.” She snarled on the last word.
“How is it that you consort with our Hebrew brethren–” his lip curled at that–
It just feels super weird to embrace the anti-semitism, but not accurately reflect the Jewish experience in terms of expulsion. Unless I missed something in my digging and by the 1150s, Jews had been forced out of France. It is true that Henry II treated the Jews better than other monarchs, so in that regard Into the Dim is correct.
*The first third of the book is so slow! I thought there was a lot of stuff that could have been cut to move the plot along faster. Basically Hope gets to the manor and does a lot of wandering around, meets a boy, learns and trains for the trip back in time, there’s a super long flashback/diary entry that I skimmed…
*Speaking of backstory, the one with Hope/Bran takes a long time until she remembers/learns about it, and I found that so annoying. There were so many places she could have pushed him for more information, and she doesn’t. It felt like it was drawn out just for plot’s sake. Later she just hears a name and has an epic flashback which is oh so convenient (which goes along with another point below about not having to work for anything). Along with Hope being slow just for plot, in the midst of a dire escape while one of the main characters is dying, she just stops for a make out session, which screamed of ridiculousness to me. Yes, I was swooning, but um STAKES. You can make out when you get home and find penicillin.
*There was nothing really special about this book that made it stand out from any other YA fantasy. Special snowflake MC who is pretty but doesn’t know it, with 2 guys who are total opposites and mad about her. Sometimes I can overlook these things if they’re done well or with a twist, or something about the writing really grabs me, but not in this case.
*The MC and her friends didn’t have to work for anything. All the historical figures/adults in 1154 are already on someone’s side because they’ve had interaction with the rival time traveling families before. It really took all the anticipation away because the ‘bad guy’ was obviously in league with the bad time travelers and vice versa. I didn’t feel any stakes since everything was pretty much handed to them.
*Bran!! Swoony, funny, adorable Bran.
*Pretty epic backstory between Bran and Hope. I really liked it.
*Doug and Phoebe were SO cute!
*So were Rachel and William!
*Gosh just all the romance in this book!
*Hope being a boss and burning iron bars.
*Calling Collum on his hypocrisy. Great to see self-aware characters!
INTO THE DIM has all the romance of Outlander, but the slut shaming and lack of stakes hurt my overall enjoyment of the novel.
Favorite Quote (all quotes from an ARC! Not final.)
“William was cute in a medieval boy-next-door way…”