ClockwiseR is the follow-up to Clockwise by Elle Strauss, with higher stakes and more adventure for Casey and Nate. There are a couple of big changes this time around, most notably in Casey’s confidence level and the issues that develop when the wrong people get taken along on one of her time-travel “tripping” episodes.
It is a year after book one, and Casey has been in a solid relationship with Nate during that time. This has boosted her confidence level tremendously since the first time we met her. She is now just as confident in the present as she is in the past. Her brother Tim, however, has not grown much at all. He is still rebelling against his parents and the smoking in the first book has moved in a more illegal direction. But when he is accidentally transported to the past with Casey during an argument and then left behind, he finds he is going to have to grow up to survive. Unlike the first novel which was all from Casey’s point of view, we get inside Tim’s head as well. His attitude of “it’s all just a game” that he has developed from playing video games gets a massive readjustment as he finds himself fighting for the Union army in the second battle of Bull Run.
Meanwhile Casey is struggling desperately to “trip” back and get Tim while dealing with his loss in the present. Her parents have reported him missing to the police, and the whole community is turning out to help find him – even the cute boy next door who has been flirting with her. This is putting a bit of a strain on her relationship with Nate, which only intensifies when she “trips” back without him and accidentally brings Will Watson from the past into her present! Will Casey lose Nate forever?
I loved the direction Strauss took her characters and the issues that were raised because of it. Tim’s blithe attitude to war was very believable of a teen coming from a world of movies and games. To see his adjustment to the realities of war and the loss of life involved was sobering. On the flip side, we had Will trying to adjust to a world of cars and electricity while dealing with the notion that he would be seen as a deserter from the army because of his disappearance from his timeline. When Will tries to learn if he will return to a life of disgrace, an even bigger blow is dealt him. The issues these two young men end up facing are thought-provoking, and the complexity that is brought to the story by them is what bumped this up to a four-star rating for me.
Casey continues to impress as a resourceful, intelligent heroine. It was especially interesting to see her from Tim’s point of view. His squeaky-clean image of her definitely changes as he learns more about her life in the past. Nate is as supportive as ever, and I actually felt the strain placed on their relationship developed mostly from his fear of losing Casey and her not recognizing that fear. I actually liked the fact that their relationship hit snags in this installment, since a trouble-free relationship is unrealistic and a bit boring. Having Will brought to the present was an unexpected wrinkle and I struggled right along with him as he tried to decide whether to return to his time or not. The biggest surprise, though, was Tim. From rebellious teen acting out against his parents to frightened teen trying to survive on and off the battlefield, Tim has a fascinating journey.
ClockwiseR is a very strong follow-up to Clockwise, with deeper character development and larger issues. It was a delight to revisit Casey’s world and to see how everyone’s lives were shaping up. The contrast of Tim in the past and Will in the present, both of them coping with life and death situations, added complexity and gravity to the novel, but Elle Strauss’ writing style keeps it accessible to middle-schoolers on up. I really hope there is at least one more book in this series, since I hate to say good-bye to these characters so soon. (from RiffsAndReviews)