Verdict: HIGH FLYING sometimes falls short, but its ambitious protagonist and fast-paced plot will keep readers turning the pages.
A traumatic childhood and adolescence have left Skylar Haines with emotional scars. In spite of the challenges she faces, Skylar achieves her long-held dream of becoming a stunt pilot. When a near-accident during an airshow sends her back in time to 1997, just a few months before she is born, she must decide whether or not she should change the past and, consequently, her own life.
There are many good plot elements in HIGH FLYING. Skylar is a plucky heroine who will have readers rooting for her as she overcomes adversity. The time travel theme is also a good twist which raises the question of how much control we have over our destinies and how much is already set in stone. Skyler is an emotionally complex character, and her backstory sets HIGH FLYING apart from the typical thriller.
HIGH FLYING will be a tough read for certain readers, and those uncomfortable with portrayals of self harm might want to give this book a miss. The depictions of self harm sometimes feel gratuitous, and Skyler’s emotional release from cutting is described in poetic language that carries the danger of romanticizing mental illness. Skyler and another character living with a mental illness are both treated as if their condition is shameful. Much of her recovery seems to stem from a change of lifestyle, which underempasizes the necessity of proper medical care and treatment. While Skylar’s mental illness could have been portrayed in a more sensitive way, her determination to overcome her past sends an empowering message.
Most of the characters in HIGH FLYING are likeable, but they don’t always feel distinctive. The characterization of the bad guys also leaves something to be desired, as they read more like villainous tropes than fleshed-out characters. A subplot involving a Mexican drug cartel opens a door to racially stereotyped characters. At times, it feels like there are too many subplots and that they serve to do little more than prop up the main storyline. An underdeveloped romance between Skylar and another character, for example, feels a bit contrived and distracts from the already fast-paced action.
In spite of its flaws, HIGH FLYING is an entertaining read. Fans of time travel stories will enjoy Skylar’s journey to the past. The novel is well-paced and author Kaylin McFarren’s accessible and sharp writing will keep readers engaged.
HIGH FLYING sometimes falls short, but its ambitious protagonist and fast-paced plot will keep readers turning the pages.
~Christine-Marie Liwag Dixon for IndieReader