June 24, 2011 at 05:37 PM EDT

The title of this upcoming YA novel suggests Shakespeare, but this particular fantasy tale about a young couple torn apart by impossible forces is strictly from the present day.

Well, actually 2009. But, then again … it goes back to 2007. Sort of.

To be honest, it’s a little tricky because the 19-year-old hero of Tempest, Jackson Meyer, is unstuck in time. So forget the “strictly from the present day” part.

In the story, Jackson Meyer has the natural ability to flash backward in time, but he tends to go only a short chronological distance, usually a few hours. He has a playful — some might say immature — attitude about it, using the power as a plaything instead of harnessing its true potential. But, you know — he’s just a kid.

Then tragedy strikes as the love of his life, Holly, is brutally murdered before his eyes.

Of course, that becomes a chance to use his power to save her, but in rage and panic he finds this flash backward goes not a few hours, but two years. Turns out Holly’s death was not some random act of violence. They were targeted because of his abilities, and he continues to be pursued by these “enemies of time” who wish to either recruit him, or execute him too.

Here we present the a first look at the cover of the book, by debut novelist Julie Cross, as well as the short, mysterious prologue that kicks off the tale.

Click through to read …

Though Tempest doesn’t come out until Jan. 3, it has already created a massive stir as Summit Entertainment, which has had, umm, let’s say good luck with the Twilight movies, picked up the film rights more than a year before it was set to hit bookshelves.

The excerpt is brief, it reveals that at least part of the book will be in journal form (the rest is straight narrative), and provides a decent sense of Jackson Meyer’s carefree attitude toward his impressive gift, as well as the suggestion that he’s beginning to take it more seriously. The “Adam” mentioned is his best friend, a brilliant physics expert, and sort-of-sidekick, whom he entrusts with his secret:




Okay, so it’s true. I can time-travel. But it’s not as exciting as it sounds. I can’t go back in time and kill Hitler. I can’t go to the future and see who wins the World Series in 2038. So far, the most I’ve ever jumped is about six hours in the past. Some superhero, right?


Tonight, I finally let someone in on my secret. Someone whose IQ is light-years above mine, so, basically he might actually be able to figure me out. The one request Adam insists I follow is documentation. A record of nearly every moment from this point on. Actually, he wanted the eighteen years prior to today, but I talked him out of it … for now. Even though I’m going along with this journal idea, it doesn’t mean I buy into it. It’s not like the world’s going to end just because I can jump around in time. Or that I’ll serve some greater purpose, like saving the human race from dying. But as Adam says, I must be like this for a reason and it’s up to us to find out why.

Tempest is being published by Thomas Dunne Books, and Macmillan Films will oversee the film for Summit, with Sonny Mallhi (The Roomate, The Strangers) as producer and Roy Lee and Brendan Deneen (the book’s editor, who rescued the manuscript from the random submissions pile) as executive producers.

While it’s Cross’ first book, she intends to make Tempest a trilogy. She lives in Champaign, Ill., and previously published a blog called “Diary of an Unpublished Wannabe Writer,” which clearly no longer applies. Now she blogs simply under her own name, which will be one to watch:

Follow EW’s Anthony Breznican on Twitter: @Breznican

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