Published: 1st March 2012 by HachetteAU
Format: Paperback, 294 pages
Goodreads ● The Book Depository ● Booktopia ● Bookworld
The last thing Cammie Morgan remembers is leaving the Gallagher Academy to protect her friends and family. But when Cammie wakes up in an alpine convent and discovers months have passed, her memory is a black hole. The only traces left of Cammie’s summer vacation are the bruises on her body and dirt under her nails.
All she wants is to go home. But even the Gallagher Academy now holds more questions than answers as Cammie and her friends face their most difficult challenge yet. With only their training and a few clues to guide them, the girls go in search of answers on the other side of the world. But the Circle is hot on their trail and will stop at nothing to prevent Cammie from remembering what she did last summer.
It's a race against time.
We left Cammie Morgan at the end of the last book as she left the Gallagher Academy (a school for spies in training) to track down the people who were hunting her. It was a strong, definitive ending, and I was looking forward to an action-packed thriller.
What I got is a lazily executed novel that uses the oldest trick in the book – amnesia – to add spice to what is otherwise a dull book. It’s not so much the plot device that annoyed me (although I feel it’s a cop-out to end the fourth book on such a strong, dramatic note and then follow it up with a book that just has the characters running around trying to find clues to things that have already happened), it’s the execution. The book is basically “Cammie remembers nothing. Boo hoo for Cammie. Cammie ignores everyone’s advice and digs into her past. Cammie finds a clue and follows it. Cammie randomly walks into people who happen to remember her from her earlier trip (so many coincidences, my eyes eventually hurt from all the rolling). Cammie thinks her journey was a waste of time, but then finds out she had the clue she was looking for all along.” Rinse and repeat five times, and viola, we have a novel. So plot-wise, Out of Sight, Out of Time is a weak novel.
I like that Carter finally presents readers with some answers to the questions posed over the series arc. This book is primarily concerned with the past, not only Cammie’s lost adventures but also the fate of her father and his mission. Whether they were sad, horrifying or heart-wrenching, these parts of the plot didn’t fail to move me. I think Cammie’s learnt a lot from her adventures here, and look forward to seeing how she applies it in the United We Spy.
While usually Carter’s writing style in this series – incorporating checklists, pro-and-con lists and fake mission reports – is humourous, I feel like there are just too many of them in Out of Sight, Out of Time. It seems like there was a list or mission report in every second chapter, and it completely distracted me from the story.
Cammie didn’t annoy me as much as she usually does in these novels. She’s become tougher, more pragmatic, and finally seems to understand the dangers that are present for her and those around her. She doesn’t go off on hair-brained missions any more and actually listens to the people around her who give her advice. Except for the part where everyone tells her to leave her memory alone, and she pokes at it until something dark and horrible comes out. For me, the hardest part is believing she’s almost 18 – I’ve known 14 year olds with more maturity and forethought. I know nothing magical happens to people to make them smarter and more focussed at 18, so I’m not holding out for the future.
Speaking of focus, Zach is present in all his distracting glory, and I like the role he plays in the book. He’s living at the school now, and gets to go to classes and eat lunch with the group. I think there was a lot more potential there, with him being around so much, but Carter chose to have him around as ‘voice-of-reason’ and occasionally as a kissing post.
There’s still too much Liz bashing that goes on for my tastes: Cammie doesn’t pass up opportunities to tell us how exceptional she, Bex and Macey are, and how incompetent, blundering and insufferably nerdy Liz is. Liz isn’t physical, she isn’t strong, all three of them could take her any time, blah blah blah. Liz is just different to the other three, and I don’t believe it warrants the sneer that’s always in Cammie’s voice when describing her. She hastily follows it up with comments on how smart and amazing Liz is, but to my mind, it always seems like they are afterthoughts, and I rarely see Cammie convey genuine respect for her friend.
Out of Sight, Out of Time is a more satisfying book than its predecessors, in my opinion, because it has some measure of resolution that the others lack. It’s definitely a dark story, with high stakes and a bit of action, but my antipathy with the protagonist and her vapid ways prevented me from truly embracing it.
Blogging Outside the Box is a feature at Speculating on SpecFic, where books outside the SFF banner are reviewed. It is intended to highlight some of the non speculative fiction titles I am reading and share my thoughts with readers.