by Arthur J. Gonzalez
Publication: February 20th, 2013
Genre: YA Paranormal/Time Travel
Publication: February 20th, 2013
Genre: YA Paranormal/Time Travel
Read longer Excerpt Here
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 genuinely enjoyed this book so much. I was hooked pretty quickly too. The Photo Traveler is packed with suspense, action, intrigue and even a bit of romance. This idea is unique too, and the characters strong and likable as well. The twist along the way really keep you guessing what will happen next. I really can’t wait now to read The Peace Hunter, part 2.
The idea of the travel with photos is not new to me however, and anyone who watches movies, but in a different way, I am talking about that movie Jumper, but he can only travel to all the places of the photos, in his own time, not time travel, and that idea I always thought was great, and this takes it to a whole new level with the time travel. That similarity is what actually drew me to this book, and then seeing it was actually time travel through photos really got me excited to read it.
It took me a little while to warm up to Gavin, though I did feel for him and his abusive family situation. It was more the fact he is a teenage boy, and I usually read books from the females point of view, but will say I enjoyed getting the perspective from a guy. I liked it, really I did.
I think the writing style was perfect for the age this is meant for. Thinking YA maybe even New Adult, only because he is turning 18, nothing else would make it be out of the YA area.
I enjoyed his travels to the different times, like the Salem Witch trials, which I would not have had the guts to try. Heck, anything not “normal” to them would mark you as a witch, lol. Then the sadness of the Great Depression. That showed Gavin’s touching heart, in helping out the freezing little boy. That warmed me to him more than anything else.
I do not want to say to much more, I want to keep this spoiler free. It’s a great story, and I highly recommend it.
5 out of 5 stars for me. Go get it! You won’t be sorry.
I was provided a copy of this book from the author for my honest review.
“Gavin,” Estelle begins, “There’s a lot you don’t know about. About who you are.”
“Who I am?” I’m not sure what she means.
“Better yet,” Bud says, “how about we show you?” He pulls out another photo and hands it to me. It’s a 1970s-style diner. Just like the ones in the “Grease” movie or that show “Happy Days.” I used to watch old reruns Saturday nights on Nick at Nite with Leyla. “See this?”
He takes a slip of paper, writes something on it, and gives it to me. It reads:
To this time, allow my travel.
Take me there, let time unravel.
“Just look into the photo and recite the words with us.”
“I don’t get it. This is—”
“Trust us, dear,” Estelle says.
I shrug. “Whatever.”
Together the three of us chant the rhyme. A thunderous noise like a storm of lightning firing down on a small town erupts through my ears. I feel like I’m falling but also being kept afloat by bursts of cold winds from every direction. My mouth is open. Trying to scream. Nothing comes out. Everywhere around me is bright, but I can’t define the color. Then, as quickly as it comes, it ends. Everything suddenly slows, like a speeding carnival ride coming to an end.
“What was that?!” I scream, fixing my crazy hair. I look around. We’re no longer in their dining room. Instead, we’re standing outside the diner, and it looksexactly like the photo.
“What?... How...? That’s the one in the photo—Wait, where’s the photo?” I search my pockets. Scan the ground for it. Nothing.
Bud slings his arm around my shoulders and grins. “Told you we’d show you!”
I scan the scene in front of me. 1970s-style Cadillacs, Camaros, and other cars I’ve never seen before are pulling up as waitresses on roller skates cruise over to take orders. Some song by Bennie and the Jets blares from speakers mounted on the diner’s roof. All I see are bell-bottoms and disco-inspired haircuts.
“This can’t be real. It can’t be. Right?” I turn to ask them. But I stop talking when I see that their eyes are now glowing a fluorescent purple—part eerie, part enchanting. “What happened to your eyes?!”
“It sure is real, sweetie,” Estelle smiles. “We’ll explain the eyes inside.”
“But...” I am so confused.
“You come from a family of photo travelers.”
“Photo travelers? What do you mean?”
“How about we go inside?” Bud says. “They have the best shakes here. They just don’t make them like this anymore. Right, Stelle?”
She giggles and we walk toward the diner. I hold the door open for them. It’s outlined by a blazing pink neon light. As we walk inside, I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the window. My eyes are purple, too! What is this?
The hostess, in a pink-and-black uniform, smiles at us. “Welcome to Pinky’s! Booth for three? Right this way,” she adds as she pops the bubble of her chewing gum with her furry pink pen.
I am in the heart of the Seventies! I can’t believe my eyes. My purple eyes, that is. I’m trying my best to soak in the world around me as I distractedly follow the hostess to our pink-and-red iridescent leather booth.
“Your waitress will be with you in a moment. Enjoy your meal!” she mumbles between chomps on her gum.
I grab the menu and examine it. My mind quickly shifts to the thought of selling something like this on eBay and the money I could rack up. I can’t believe it’s authentic. This is crazy.
“Try the strawberry shake,” Estelle urges me. “It was your dad’s favorite.”
“Photo travelers?” I demand. “How did we do that? Can I do it on my own? Have I always been able to? Why are our eyes purple?”
I have so many questions I can’t even take a breath in between them. The more I ask, the more questions I have. But the more questions I have, the more confused I feel.
The waitress, whose nametag reads “Ritsy,” interrupts us, throwing us weird glances as she takes our order. Our eyes. I keep mine glued to the menu. We order three strawberry shakes and decide to share a large basket of Pinky’s “famous” chili-cheese fries.
Bud waits for her to leave, then says, “Photo travelers are a small group of people who can travel to the past by means of real life images or photos. Your parents were photo travelers. Estelle’s family and mine were photo travelers. Our families have been travelers for more than a hundred years. Actually we met as kids through our families. And the eyes will happen every time you travel. It’s the only thing that gives us away, really.”
“So I can just jump from picture to picture?” I’m starting to feel excited about this. Even though I still really don’t get it at all.
“Pretty much. There are a few rules, of course, but you’ll learn them.”
“And every time I do, my eyes will change color?”
Bud nods. “Yeah. But let me ask you, I bet you’ve always naturally been drawn to photography? I mean, when you look at photos, you feel almost connected to them?”
“Yeah. That’s exactly how I feel. Photography’s everything to me. I just had no idea anything like this was even possible. That I’d be able to pretty much transport myself into it.”
“Sweetie,” Estelle chimes in, “That’s why we had to give you up after the fire. This all may seem fun to you right now, but there are plenty of dangers. On the day of the fire, we were traveling. We didn’t even know about it until we had returned. And by then there was nothing we could do. Their bodies were never found, but even without that we knew they hadn’t been killed. Liam was too clever for that. We think that they were either actually traveling when the fire broke out, or that they traveled through a photo or image to save themselves. But we’ve never seen or heard from them again.” She sighs. “You were at daycare when it happened, so you probably don’t remember much.”
“Oh, believe me,” I reply. Their abandoning me still hurts. I can’t help it. “I remember never being picked up by my parents and never seeing them again. I remember a lot of things. What I don’t understand is how I don’t remember you guys.” They look so uncomfortable that I feel bad about it. I don’t want to hurt them, so I change the subject. “So you haven’t seen them for years either? But I don’t get it. Why couldn’t they just come back through another photo or something?”
The waitress arrives with our orders. My foot jiggles impatiently as she sets out our food, then asks, “Anything else...?”
“We’re fine. Thanks!” I spit out. She rolls her eyes and walks off.
“Here’s the thing,” Bud continues. “We can only transport through photos—or other images, actually. But if the host photo or image we use gets damaged or destroyed, we’re trapped in wherever we traveled to. And that’s what we think happened to your mom and dad—the photo they traveled to was destroyed in the fire.”
Estelle adds, “And we have nothing to tell us what photo they used, or what time they may be trapped in.”
I stop sipping on my shake and look blankly down at the table. My mind is trying to catch up. I finally get it. “You’re saying they might still be alive?”
Bud nods. “But there’s no telling where or when. Trust me. We’ve tried the best we can.”
They start explaining the rules. We can travel though photos and images that depict moments that actually occurred in real life. So I’d be able to travel to an image of an old scene, like of Abraham Lincoln speaking. But it has to be something that someone was physically able to capture with a camera, or by painting or drawing it, or by making some other kind of image.
Another rule, more of a rule of thumb, is that we should travel to images of a group of people or to a busy scene, not to just two people or to an image where our sudden appearance would be obvious.
“We transport right into that very moment, so we try and be as inconspicuous as possible,” Estelle explains.
The big no-no turns out to be that we can’t try to change an event that’s already happened. This rule turns the conversation more serious. For the first time since I’ve met them, Bud looks stern, rigid. “This is absolutely forbidden. If you change an event, you change time, and you have no idea what the ripple effect will be. You’ll have no idea what you may have affected.”
“What do you mean? Like trying to bring someone back from the dead?” I joke.
He doesn’t laugh. “You’ve heard about the ‘butterfly effect’? That the smallest changes we make in the past can affect the future in unimaginable ways. Everything we do in the past has a consequence to our future. We are not gods, and it’ll do you good to remember that. This gift is supposed to allow us to be visitors or passengers. That’s it. Nothing more. Do I make that clear?”
“Yeah. I get it. No changing the past. You guys can relax. It’s not like I’m planning on leading some zombie apocalypse.”
He pulls out another scrap of paper and scribbles on it. “When you want to return, you just repeat these words out loud, and you’ll be right back where you left from. He hands it to me but grins, “But you better wait till we pay our tab!”
While he calls the waitress over and pays her—with old dollar bills, not the new ones—I read:
Take me home to what is mine.
Back to the present, back to my time.
He gives us a nod. We say the chant—
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