I may not have watched Back to the Future, yeah I know how un-American haha, but I do enjoy the idea of time travel. I’d go meet all the great people I could and watch how things were built and such. I would LOVE a time machine; it’s every history buff’s dream. When I saw Phantom Universe by Laura Kreitzer, I jumped on it, a human time machine??? No way!
Sold into slavery to pirates at the young age of four, Summer learns to survive the rough seas of subterfuge and thieves through silence. When the boat she’s lived on most of her life is destroyed, Summer finds herself washed up on the shore of a new world, a phantom universe full of the bizarre and extraordinary. She meets Gage, the one boy who understands the girl with no speech. But when their lives are put on the line, will Summer finally call out? Or will all be lost in the fathomless depth of silence?
I enjoyed Phantom Universe very much, but wow is there a lot to absorb. This poor girl is kidnapped, beaten, forced into slavery, finds out she’s being hunted by people she’s never even heard of, finds herself 200 years into the future without a clue of how with all sorts of new technology and facts to learn, finds out she’s now an Outlander (someone from the past who showed up in the future and are now considered the enemy and quarantined in a prison of sorts), finds an unlikely group of friends who do whatever it takes to protect her, all the while on the run from a society who is hunting her down to kill her. And yet, there’s MORE, so much more.
And that doesn’t even cover it all folks. Phantom Universe has all sorts of twists and turns it’s almost dizzying. You get so much thrown at you; it’s hard to describe it without going all over the place. Cause the story is all over the place. Even the chapters jump from when she’s 16, to when she’s 4 or 6 or 8.
Although, that’s not a complaint.
Even with the overload of information, I felt sorry for poor Summer. She’s so badly wounded and scared by the life she’s had. She’s afraid to speak or even laugh, afraid she’ll be beaten again. She doesn’t know what is and isn’t real in life, because she’s never been taught. She doesn’t understand simple things like chocolate bars or a friend giving another friend a gentle pat on the back. It’s all foreign and frightening for her. You do get to witness her slow progress from frightened slave to someone whose free to make her own choices, showing you that there is hope left for her.
And that most of that hope comes in the form of Gage, who is ultimately the one who saves Summer. He’s in the Canadian League, those who are now ruling what was once the United States, and the reason Outlanders are in prison. It’s with his help that she escapes the clutches of those out to hurt her. Gage is this old school type, knight in shining armor, which I have to say the romantic in me LOVES. He’s a genuinely nice guy, and a character you really want to see more of.
The other minor characters bring a lot of variety and spice to what is a very sad and depressing story. They keep things funny and interesting during all the chaos.
The technology in the Phantom Universe is pretty nifty, but I wish you could see more of it. You get a good dose, don’t get me wrong, but again there’s just so much always going on you don’t really get to appreciate it or learn much about it. The same goes with the new world that Summer is thrown into. You don’t get to learn much about it, just glimpses here and there. I love details, especially on new places or new technology, give it all to me so I can really see it and believe it.
And then, it ends all of a sudden. I knew that last page was coming but I was hoping that Laura Kreitzer wouldn’t end it suddenly. However she left it wide open for the next book. One second Summer is literally running forher life, her friends by her side and The Secret Clock Society hot on her heels, and the next you’re on the last page and it’s over. It’s one of those endings that you’re left saying NOOOO out loud, because you want more.
I admit, with so much in Phantom Universe, it left me scratching my head wondering if I’d missed something. There were times I felt like I had skipped pages of the story; many things aren’t explained very thoroughly, and are talked about as if you already know the whole story. It makes it difficult to follow, with so much going on and so much left floating in the air for later explanations. But it’s still a book I’d recommend. It’s chaotic yes, but it’s a great story. I can’t wait to read the next one.