Goodreads Summary: Lydia Bentley has heard stories about the Montauk Project all her life: stories about the strange things that took place at the abandoned military base near her home and the people who’ve disappeared over the years. Stories about people like her own great-grandfather.
When Lydia stumbles into a portal that transports her to a dangerous and strange new reality, she discovers that all the stories she’s ever heard about the Montauk Project are true, and that she’s in the middle of one of the most dangerous experiments in history.
Alongside a darkly mysterious boy she is wary to trust, Lydia begins to unravel the secrets surrounding the Project. But the truths behind these secrets force her to question all her choices–and if Lydia chooses wrong, she might not save her family but destroy them . . . and herself.
Before reading So CLOSE TO YOU by Rachel Carter, I’d never heard of the Montauk Project, an urban legend story about time travel experiments conducted at Camp Hero on Long Island. The YA debut brings the subject and the history behind the legend into clear focus. One of my favorite television shows was Sliders, about a group of time travelers, during the 90s. SO CLOSE TO YOU had a Sliders feel to it. I’ve often felt it would be fun to travel back into time, even for just a day.
SO CLOSE TO YOU is about a teen girl named Lydia, and her grandfather’s obsession with Camp Hero. There is an area of the abandoned camp where mysterious experiments supposedly have occurred. Lydia’s grandfather is convinced something strange is happening at Camp Hero and it involves the Montauk Project. Lydia’s great-grandfather, Dean, worked on the base and disappeared during WWII.
The novel, which is shrouded in mystery, kicks into high gear when Lydia travels back into time. She goes with a fellow time traveler, a stranger named, Wes. Lydia is a likable character, although she falls very quickly for Wes who is hell-bent on bringing her back to the present. I found Lydia’s desire to seek the answers about her great-grandfather’s disappearance, admirable, yet naive when she clearly states she doesn’t care if she risks her own future and alters history.
Lydia mixes well with her relatives who, of course, have no idea who she is. However, I did find that they were too welcoming toward her. She’s a stranger who’s giving them some bogus story about how she ended up in Camp Hero (a highly secure place) and on Long Island.
Most of the story takes place against the backdrop of WWII, and because of this, I felt the family was too trusting of Lydia and her “story”. They are kind and warm toward her, even welcoming her into their home. Yes, the 40s was much different than today and people often left their front doors unlocked, but a big saying at the times was “loose lips sink ships.” During the 40s, people were extremely suspicious of strangers — worried about spies and feelings of xenophobia were very strong because of the war. Huh, sounds like today! Anyway, I think the family members should have been more on edge with Lydia’s appearance in town. This would have created more suspense.
Carter does a fairly good job making the novel feel like the 1940s, but sometimes SO CLOSE TO YOU was trying too hard to be a stylized version of the “40s”. For instance, when I watch Downton Abbey, Boardwalk Empire and Mad Men, I feel like I’m actually in Edwardian England, the 1920s and the 1960s. Yes, they wear costumes and hairdos of the era and the sets resemble the look, but they capture the way people were, talked, and acted. Research of every aspect from culture to historical events is clearly shown in these programs, which of course starts with the writing.
SO CLOSE TO YOU drops in 40s slang here and there, but it feels too hokey and unrealistic. At least Carter didn’t use modern names. Carter has names like Mary, Dean, and Billy. According to BabyNamesPedia website, the name Lucas “has been growing in popularity since the 1940s”…so I went with it.
I like the concept of SO CLOSE TO YOU. Carter does a great job with the sci-fi elements, the history behind the Montauk Project and suspense. But the chemistry between Lydia and Wes seemed strained and forced. At times, it felt like the book was attempting to be a paranormal romance, when it could have easily stood on its own as sci-fi. The romance and love-at-first-sight element should have been left out. It weighed down the start of a good book! Despite some issues I had with SO CLOSE TO YOU, I am interested in reading upcoming books in the trilogy.
Leave a Comment