Endless is about Jenny Kramer, a 17 year old who has a unique power: she can see people’s past lives just by touching them. After an event with an Ouija board, Jenny starts dreaming about Maria Romanov and the boy she loved, Nikolai. Jenny also befriends Ben, a temporary resident of Stony Creek. When Ben and Jenny share a dream, they realize that the dreams are actually memories. Then Nikolai shows up at Jenny’s art show, and she discovers he has crossed time and space to be with her. But there are sinister forces that want Nikolai back in his proper time.
I admit that I was drawn in by the lovely cover, and the mention of the Romanov family. I was dizzy with the possibilities that a time traveler from early 20th century Russia ending up in modern day America could present. I’m a huge history nerd, so I snatched this book up right away. And I was a little disappointed. As soon as the book started I was plunged into character soup. Several names were thrown out and I wouldn’t have known who the main character was if I hadn’t read the back cover text. Most of these characters are not mentioned again.
Jenny has the power to see into people’s past lives but she never uses this ability. It almost seemed like her character doesn’t need that power because most of what she sees in the past occurs in her own dreams. Jenny is also overly trusting; Nikolai shows up at the empty house next door and she immediately trusts him. I also had a problem with Jenny and Nikolai’s relationship. There is no development. Jenny as Maria Romanov meets Nikolai, the clockmaker’s grandson, and in the next flashback they are in love. Because there was no development, I didn’t necessarily care about Nikolai or what happened to him.
Nikolai’s character (also due to the lack of development) seems flat. He comes off as clingy and love sick, crossing all space and time for Jenny, a girl that doesn’t really know him. He also says several times that they are soulmates, but it is never explained why. When he arrives next door, he possesses all the modern conveniences, and Jenny doesn’t ask any questions about how he can possibly have an Audi and speak English until several chapters later. Those should have been the first questions out of her mouth.
The writing in Endless is okay, but I would have liked more showing rather than telling. For example, Jenny will just tell us things about other characters and we are supposed to trust her opinion, even though there is nothing to prove her statements, and in some cases the characters seem to contradict her. Some of the conversations the characters have are meaningless, and it is easy to skim them. A few of the plot points are predictable, but they are still interesting to read.
But, there were things that I enjoyed about the book. The flashbacks to Maria Romanov are well written and interesting. I would have liked to see more of them, and that would have made me more invested in Jenny and Nikolai’s relationship. I was curious to see whether or not Maria would meet Nikolai after he gave her the note, and what happened after that. I would also have liked to see more of Sergi, Ben in his past life, and more about his relationship to Maria. By far, my favorite scene in the book is where ultimately the Romanov family meets their end. The writing was excellent, and that is perhaps the one time that I experienced the love that Maria and Nikolai have for each other.
Ben, Jenny’s friend, was my favorite character in the book and his relationship with her is developed. He’s used to it being just him and his mom, moving from place to place to avoid his abusive father. Ben has more facets than the rest of the characters. I also enjoyed that even though he has feelings for Jenny, he doesn’t declare them or try and pick fights with Nikolai. He remains as her best friend and always supports her.
All in all, Endless was a decent read. It had a lot of potential that wasn’t quite met, but it was still readable. I hope the second installment will maximize it’s potential.
*I received Endless from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*