Seventeen-year-old Theodora lives with her busy mother and goes to the college near her home. It's at college that she meets the delectable Stephen of the warm brown eyes, who Theo has a huge crush on. But she's an independent spirit; she likes comfy clothes, Russian novels and has an astonishing appetite for greasy food (bacon sandwiches smothered in brown sauce are her particular weakness). More than this, she's afraid of enclosed spaces, so the class trip to France, where she hopes to get closer to Stephen, is out of the question unless she can conquer her fear of airplanes.
The novel opens with Theo's visit to a hypnotherapist who tries to brainwash Theo out of her claustrophobia. Instead, Theo starts hearing voices - well, just one voice; and it turns out to be the soul of her great-grandmother, Cara, a time traveller who has been parted from her body and needs Theo's help.
Cara opens up a brand new world for Theo, full of possibility and excitement and a certain amount of discomfort. Sharing her body with her double-crossing, ass-kicking, fast-talking great-grandmother isn't easy for either of them, but they must work together to return Cara's soul to her body, and overcome the evil(-ish) Magnus. Along the way there is adventure, a lot of muscular men garbed in tight trousers, romance and quite a lot of thievery. By the end of it Theo probably wouldn't be able to pick Stephen out in a line-up.
There is so much to like in this fast-paced and hugely energetic novel. The characters are interesting and fun, the dialogue is snappy, and nothing is as simply as it first appears. Loizou's style is almost stream-of-consciousness, which allows the reader to feel perfectly intimate with the very likeable heroine.
Now for some drawbacks; like most self-published titles, this work could have done with a strong edit, for typos, structural weaknesses and a few awkward sentences (`I had eagerly signed up without fear' being one of the early ones) - though even these have jammed in so much of the author's exuberant personality that it would be a little bit of a shame to over-correct.
But then, there is such a tongue-in-cheek aspect to the novel. The author is wonderfully self-aware and refuses to take herself too seriously. Two of the three love-interests in the story have the requisite YA stalker tendencies (thank you Stephenie Meyer, Becca Fitzpatrick et al), the action is set at break-neck speeds, and the characters are firmly light-hearted and frothy - despite the heroine's determined dislike for frothiness.
More than anything, this is a funny book; I don't want to spoil anything by copy-and-pasting here, but there are some real lol moments. Irreverent, witty and occasionally slapstick, the author works in a variety of gags that are mostly concerned with our heroine's endearing self-deprecations.
This is not a perfect novel, it's a first novel: the plotting can be a little slap-dash - as I mentioned, a good strong edit could have really transformed the novel. But the author has an exuberant and fun writing style that just crackles with energy and zip. Full of ideas and humour, the author gracefully decides not to leave us on the prerequisite cliff at the end of this YA title: instead, she allows the story to resolve itself and at the end of the book, invites us all on to the next one. As for me, I'll be RSVP'ing `yes'.