Theme: A sci-fi time travel romance surrounding a group of young friends desperate to find out the truth behind a powerful institution.
Nature of Review: NetGalley provided me with an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: The Exchange is set to release September 25, 2019!
Warnings: don’t screw around with time travel, kids. 🙃 but for real, the book is fairly lighthearted. However the characters have to face bullying, murder, loss, and racism.
Ari is a problem child- she knows it, no need to beat around the bush. Ari is always trying to sabotage her father’s work and has basically been banned from anywhere said work is kept. But she does it for good reason- her father works for The Institute, the group of sketchy, sleaze-ball scientists who run the Exchange Program and bring people from the past to their time for research and learning purposes… or so they let people think.
James is a farmer from 1903, eager to leave his daily life behind in search of something new and exciting. Jumping at the chance to be apart of the Exchange, James gets paired up in 2030 with Ari as his guide, much to her displeasure. Ari thinks she can deal with the Institute for James’ three month exchange, then send him back on his merry way to his old life. Except James has no intention of going back.
As James tries to convince Ari to help him stay in the future- as Ari’s dislike of the program could give him a chance at a life in 2030- they begin to uncover the truth of the Exchange Program and the horror of why each exchange is chosen. The Exchange is a gripping, compelling stand-alone read that brings a new twist to time-travel romance, and the consequences of trying to conquer time.
“You can’t just let it happen because you’re afraid to say anything. History is full of moments where people stopped injustice by standing up to the bigger party. That could be us.”
I went into this book loving the premise and the storyline, but I wished I could have loved it just a tiny bit more. The synopsis and the cover drew me in right away, promising a romance time travel fiction- which it was. And while I enjoyed this story and do not regret reading it for one second, I wish the writing had just been a little less… flaky? Like at any second the story could change it’s mind and go from time-travel romance to thriller to contemporary to an unfinished work. While I love multiple cross-genres and an open ending in some books, in this one I just didn’t feel it, but it made for a fairly light read.
It started with a great hook and developed into some amazing world building. The tone of the story pulled me in right away, and I loved learning about the setting of 2030 as the story began. The characters each were completely unique, and I liked reading the thoughts of multiple POVs, as well as how each character has different experiences from the time their originating from. It provided the reader with some insight on how life in other time periods was like, and it was super hilarious to watch them learn about the future.
I thoroughly enjoyed the time travel in this story, and the mystery that goes along with the forces of time and the butterfly effect. There were also some interesting secrets that were kept from the characters, and the readers (we did not find anything out until they did), that kept the story interesting, and I honestly would not have expected most of them at all. Kudos to the writer for that (I pride myself in being a good guesser of secret plot points, but maybe I’m tooting my own horn a bit 🤷🏻♀️.)
“I think sometimes people believe the best in something when it’s too hard to think about the worst.”
But, if I’m justifying my rating here, I would not have read this story if it weren’t for the time travel. It made the story interesting and pulled the entire plot along. Sure, the characters were fun and unique, but they didn’t really go anywhere during this story, nor did they have a believable ending. The ending was cute, but I did not think the climax was necessarily believable, and it seemed things just fell into place for these characters.
Also, maybe I should put a WARNING: insta-love label up there. I get infatuation, but this was not that. Maybe I could blame the YA genre for the lack of romantic tension but I just wish the characters developed and grew more in this story, because they had such a promising beginning to move from.
Overall, The Exchange was entertaining and an easy read. It’s perfect for the younger spectrum of YA fiction, no doubt. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to older YA or adult readers, who enjoy the build up and turbulence of a realistic story. This was a smooth ride, perfect for those wanting their story to be happily ever after.