A Kiss In Time by Alex Flinn

A Kiss In Time
Alex Flinn

I enjoyed Beastly when I read it last year (my review: https://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/livejournal_com.gifhttps://i0.wp.com/i58.photobucket.com/albums/g254/jayamei2/wordpress.jpg), so was happy to find a copy of another YA modern fairytale retelling by Alex Flinn, this time a riff on Sleeping Beauty.
The Premise: Princess Talia is the sheltered daughter of the King and Queen of Euphrasia, gifted with beauty, musical talent, and intelligence, but also burdened by a curse. She will prick a spindle on her sixteenth birthday and she and the whole kingdom will fall into a magical sleep until True Love’s kiss awakens her.  All her life, Talia has been cautioned against spindles and her terrified parents have made sure she’s never alone. Talia may be cossetted, but she’s also confined. Then the day comes when despite all her parents’ efforts, the inevitable happens. Almost three hundred years pass before Talia wakes up to find Jack, a American  teenager (from Florida) standing over her. Talia is horrified to find out how much has changed: boys can kiss girls without meaning to marry them!
Read an excerpt of A Kiss in Time here
My Thoughts: The perspective in this book goes back and forth between Talia and Jack, and while both have humorous voices, neither make the best first impression. Talia comes off as somewhat spoiled in the sense that she knows that she’s a princess and smart and pretty and accomplished, and she has a chip on her shoulder about her treatment because of her curse. Jack comes off as ungrateful about his luck as well: his parents have sent him off on a trip to Europe by himself over the summer, and all he can do is complain about how bored he is, how his girlfriend just dumped him, and how little his parents want him around. Jack convinces his friend Travis (also sent on the same trip) to sneak out of the tour and go to the beach. Of course, being rather obnoxious to the locals, they get deliberately wrong directions and end up looking at a wall of brambles.
When Talia and Jack meet, the huge culture and generation gap lies between the two: Jack doesn’t understand Talia’s old-fashioned values, while Talia is shocked by Jack’s casualness about a kiss. Dungeons and armor are alien to Jack, while technology like watches, cell phones, and air planes blow Talia away. Jack just wants to go home and has no intention of marrying Talia, while she is sure he’s her destiny – how else could he wake her? So Talia sneaks off with Jack to his world, telling him she just needs a guide to ease her into the modern age, but really planning to make him fall in love with her. Their escape was a bit of a stretch to my suspension of disbelief, but I think this is the part of the story where I began to warm to the two characters as they alternatively clashed and bonded on their adventures.
For the first time, Talia is free from restrictions as a princess and can speak to people without her rank being an issue. I liked that her upbringing was brought into the story as she uses her diplomatic skills to win over Jack’s family, who are surprised by her arrival at their home. She also brings a fresh outsider viewpoint into Jack’s life and helps him evaluate his relationship with parents and with a manipulative ex-girlfriend. Talia shows how perceptive and thoughtful she is while Jack proves to be a nice guy who has interests which he stifles for fear of his parents’ disapproval. Both seem to share a similar tense relationship with their parents, but while we get to see some resolution to Jack’s issues, Talia’s are not returned to, which added to the general feeling that the plot could have been a bit tighter.
My favorite part of the book ended up being the climax, where the curse and all that lead up to it come back to haunt the young couple. I liked the way magic and fairytale traditions were brought back into the story here. The backstory of the curse was introduced in an interesting twist, and we get some perspective from the so-called evil fairy/witch. I really wish the book had stopped there and not continued onto an epilogue. I want to remove the epilogue, which felt like took this magic and stuffed it into a cheesy commercialized package, from my memory.
Overall: I ended up not enjoying this one as much as Beastly (for some reviewers, the opposite is true). While this had a lot of elements that I liked about that book, including some great twists to the original fairytale and a relationship that wasn’t InstaLove, the story felt like it could have been more tightly plotted. I wished the characters hadn’t made a bad first impression because it seemed at odds with how they behaved the rest of the book, I wanted a bit more character depth, especially with the secondary characters, and there were some fridge logic, but I really liked the climax of this one, which sort of makes up for some of these detractors (and I’m going to pretend that epilogue didn’t happen).
Buy: Amazon | Powell’s | The Book Depository
Other reviews:
The Hiding Spot – C-
One Librarian’s Book Reviews – 3 stars (out of 5)

9 thoughts on “A Kiss In Time by Alex Flinn

  1. I’ve only read Beastly by this author but have been curious to read her other books. All of the fairy tale retellings on TV and in movies lately also are rekindling my interest in these books. I like that A Kiss in Time has some twists on the original Sleeping Beauty story, though I’ll keep in mind the characters may disappoint . Your review has piqued my interest!

      • Um, so, off topic, but since you mentioned Once Upon a Time…Any ideas as to who the sheriff may be?? It’s driving me crazy! He’s supposed to be someone big in the fairytale world (per a recent not-really-a-spoiler-spoiler I read). I’ve got one idea, but it just doesn’t seem right.

        • Oh so I thought maybe the Huntsman from the Snow White fairytale? But then I also don’t know who the Wolf is for Red Riding Hood, and he does look a bit wolfy.

          • I thought the Huntsman too! But was he really a “big” character? Didn’t think of the Wolf, but you’re right about the wolfy look. I just don’t want him to be “bad” because I kind of dig him. 🙂

            • Yeah, problem is that there are so many fairytales. He could be the Woodcutter who saves Red? Or the Bear Prince from Snow White & Rose Red? Or maybe some other prince. He could be Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk for all we know. But I feel like with the Sheriff job he’d be closer to the mayor aka the Evil Queen and so likely be related to that fairytale, but he acts like a good guy so I don’t think he’s one of the bad fairytale characters.

  2. Beastly was just okay for me so I haven’t read anything else by the same author. This one seems pretty disappointing and a bit similar to Orson Scott Card’s Enchanment. Have you read that one? It’s one of my favorite fairy tale retellings.

    • Yep, I read Enchantment. I’m thinking about it and if it’s similar.. my first thought is not really, but I have to think about it some more. Hmm. Mostly that Russian fairy tale vibe and the time travelling is what I think makes it totally different. The only thing they share is kissing to wake up the heroine..

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