Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Tempest Book Poster Image
Romantic time-travel tale implausible but action-packed.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Like many time-travel stories, Tempest addresses fascinating questions about causality and predestination.

Positive Messages

As much as Jackson wants to learn the truth about his time-traveling abilities and his crazily convoluted origins, his main focus is ensuring the safety of his longtime girlfriend, Holly. Jackson's willingness to sacrifice his own happiness for the well-being of the young woman he loves gives Tempest an emotional boost beyond its plot pyrotechnics.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Because Tempest is, in part, a conspiracy thriller, it's not surprising that characters keep secrets from one another. And yet, the main character, Jackson, comes across as more deceptive and manipulative than he actually needs to be. With a few exceptions, the supporting cast behaves similarly. Also, the novel depicts some extremely ill-considered parenting choices, from not paying attention to your teen's late-night whereabouts all the way up to outright lying about important family matters.


There's plenty of violent action in Tempest, but because of time-travel paradoxes, hardly anyone ever ends up permanently injured. For example, Holly is shot at the start of the novel, but healthy versions of her appear in different timelines throughout the rest of the book. There are gunfights and fistfights, but blood and pain are barely part of the equation.


Jackson and his girlfriend Holly are depicted as having a fully sexual relationship, and it's implied that Jackson, at least, has had experience with other partners. There are a few scenes that deal with their physical intimacy, including the night Holly loses her virginity (at age 18). Jackson's father seems to have little problem with female guests spending the night in Jackson's room. No sexual acts are described in detail, but the characters sleep and shower together. There's also a lot of flirty banter between Jackson and Holly.


Characters use profanity rather casually, not only in moments of extreme stress but in friendly conversation. "F--k" is employed in only a couple of instances, but "s--t," "a--hole," and their variants are used more often, as are "damn" and "hell."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Underage drinking is discussed but not depicted.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Tempest is a twisty time-travel romance that features some violence, a fair amount of profanity (including "f--k" and "s--t"), and some casual depictions of teen sexuality -- the main character and his girlfriend are in a fully sexual relationship, and the loss of virginity is discussed. The emphasis of the plot is on Matrix-like action, but the characters lack sufficient definition to make the story completely compelling or believable.

User Reviews

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Kid, 12 years old March 26, 2012

This book is junk, and a waste of time

It seems to me as though this book is a complete waste of time. I'm not sure why somone would even bother reading it, since it is extremely low on moral v... Continue reading

What's the story?

College sophomore Jackson Meyer can travel through time, with some important restrictions. He can jump into his past, but nothing he does there has any impact on the present day. But after mysterious intruders shoot his girlfriend, Holly, Jackson finds himself stuck in 2007 and unable to return to his \"homebase,\" 2009. Still mourning the death of his twin sister and unable to trust his corporate CEO/CIA superspy father, Jackson must learn to use his strange abilities to protect Holly -- and perhaps even the fate of the civilization itself.

Is it any good?

TEMPEST starts with a promising new wrinkle in time-travel lore, but the plot's implausibility and the flatness of the characterizations quickly cause the narrative to wobble out of control. By mixing teen romance with Matrix-like action and Back to the Future temporal conundrums, author Julie Cross has set the bar high for herself, but she doesn't quite make the leap on her first attempt. However, teens who like time travel may still find it entertaining.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why time-travel stories are so popular in science fiction. What's so appealing about the notion of reliving parts of your life?

  • At the beginning of Tempest, Jackson and Holly are both college students, but when he gets stuck in the past, she's still in high school. What are some of the different expectations between college students and high school students who date?

  • How does the book portray teenage sexuality? Is it realistic? Would there be different/other consequences in real life?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love science fiction and fantasy

Themes & Topics

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