Welcome to our stop on Arthur J. Gonzalez's tour for his debut novel, The Photo Traveler! Arthur is so unbelievably incredible. You should all bask in his glory. Do you know what my first interaction with him was? Okay, so I had just seen this tour put up on Xpresso Book Tours, and I knew that even if I didn't get on it, I should still try to read it. So I go onto Goodreads and see that there is a giveaway up there for the book. I sign up and assume that's the end of that.
I don't even think it was an entire day later before I got a message on Goodreads from a very excited Arthur J. Gonzalez, thanking me for signing up for his giveaway. Don't believe me? Here it is.
Seventeen-year-old Gavin Hillstone is resigned to being miserable for the rest of his life. Left alone in the world after his parents died in a fire when he was four, he was placed in foster care, which for him meant ending up in an abusive home with an alcoholic adoptive father.
Gavin’s only escape is in taking and creating images. His camera is his refuge from the unending torture and isolation of daily life in his “family.”
Until he learns by accident that he isn’t alone in the world after all. His father’s parents are still alive and living in Washington DC.
When he takes the plunge and travels 3,000 miles to find his grandparents, he learns that they—and he—are part of something much bigger, and more dangerous, than he could ever have imagined. Something that has always put his family at risk and that will now threaten his own life, while forever changing it.
He learns that he is one of the last descendants of a small group of Photo Travelers—people who can travel through time and space through images. But his initial excitement turns to fear, when he soon discovers that he and his grandparents are being pursued by the fierce remnants of a radical European Photo Traveler cult, the Peace Hunters. What Gavin has, they want!
His adventure will take him to past eras, like The Great Depression and the Salem Witch Trials. Gavin will have to discover who he really is and must make choices that spell the difference between life and death for himself, for the relatives he now knows and loves, and for the girl he will come to love.
For Gavin Hillstone, life will never be the same.
My name is Arthur J Gonzalez. I’m 28 years old, born and raised in Miami, FL. I graduated from the University of Florida. I am currently releasing my debut novel, The Photo Traveler. The premise surrounds 17 – year old Gavin, who discovers he is part of a small group, called Photo Travelers, who can time travel through photos and images.
I would just like to point out that his website is really, really cool. You should go look at it.
My ReviewThe concept for this book is pretty incredible. A group of people called photo travelers have the ability to travel through time and space via images that they find. So let's say that you have this newspaper clipping with a picture on it. You say a few fancy words, and then suddenly you're sucked into this vortex-like thing, and next thing you know, you're standing right in the middle of the image you were looking at in the time it was created. Sounds pretty cool, right?
Well, yeah. That's because it is.
This is the life that Gavin suddenly finds himself in after he leaves his abusive foster home in search of the grandparents he never knew existed. His original plan is to figure out why they never took him in after his parents passed and to hopefully stay far, far away from his "family" and all of the pain it causes him.
I feel kind of awful saying this, but the Hillstone family was one of my favorite parts of the novel. Yeah, yeah, the ones that are left are pretty awful human beings (though Dina's not really that bad once she comes to her senses), but I found the mechanics of this extremely screwed up family to be very interesting. They are so much a part of Gavin already, even in their worst moments, that he would definitely not be the same person without every single one of them.
I also really liked his new family, Bud and Estelle. They were great people, and it was obvious how much they both cared about him, even when they weren't able to be anywhere near him. Out of all of the characters, they probably felt the most real to me.
In general, this book ranks pretty high on the adventurous scale, considering that there are no limits to any sort of setting for the novel. Except, apparently dinosaurs. Darn. Just so we're clear, though, I would have tried it too, Gavin.
Really the only things that I wasn't immensely fond of were the rhymes that they had to recite before they could travel anywhere. Seemed a little too much like magic words to me. Kind of cheesy. Also, the story tended to seem rushed at times, and it would have been nice if Gavin was willing to stop and smell those proverbial roses. Wherever they are.
Aside from that, this book left me in a pretty good place. I obviously had a lot of questions (gee thanks, cliffhanger!) like what happens to a certain few somebodies that I'm not allowed to mention for fear of ruining everything for you guys. Sorry!
Something that I was interested in figuring out is what it would look like to an outside observer when the photo travelers do their thing. Do they get sucked into the image? Or is it just more of a poof! and they're gone kind of deal? That might be fun to explore.
One more thing, though, and this is really just out of personal curiosity. I understand that when you go back in time to the same picture twice, the people there won't remember the first visit because it technically hasn't happened. Well if that's true, then why don't the photo travelers just go back again every time they screw up the timeline, so it would be like their mistakes never happened? I don't know, would that work?
Rating: 4 stars
Here's my favorite quote, only because it brings up an interesting topic:
""Whoa!" Estelle exclaims. "Slow down, sweetie! What's the rush?"
I spring up and sprint past them. "I'm going to be upstairs. Need to take care of something-"
"Have you even eaten?" she persists.
"Pizza's not real food," she counters."
Oh no she didn't.
I really like Estelle, but that's just not okay with me. Pizza is definitely real food! You know what, never mind. Maybe she's right. Pizza's not real food. It's better. It's like happiness baked into one incredible gift from the heavens. I'm standing by that one no matter what anybody else tells me.
The Giveawaya Rafflecopter giveaway
A copy of the novel was provided for us in exchange for an honest review.