This book is different and I admire so much that the author isn't doing the same old thing. I ought to be tThin characters are confused for 300 pages.
This book is different and I admire so much that the author isn't doing the same old thing. I ought to be the ideal audience for this, too -- I love science! I LOVE time travel! But I was unspeakably bored by this novel. I never connected with any of the characters; despite being sprinkled with German and physics, I found Gottie's narrative voice incredibly bland. I never got a clear picture of her village or her grandfather's bookshop or even her -- apparently eccentric? -- house; this was one of those books where people seem to move through blank stretches of space, like underdressed sets. The time travel baffled rather than engaged, and anyway mostly took a back seat to Gottie's romantic woes, which hinge on two almost interchangeable boys. If you're looking for a book about learning to live with grief and escaping being stuck in the past, those themes are far better handled in We Were Liars....more
**spoiler alert** It is impossible to separate my thoughts on the first volume of this duology from the second—possibly because they never should have**spoiler alert** It is impossible to separate my thoughts on the first volume of this duology from the second—possibly because they never should have been separated in the first place. This is a single novel that got way, way out of control, and if Willis (or really, Willis’ editor, who’s supposed to be the responsible one in this case) had had any sense, this monstrosity of a manuscript would have been carefully pared down to one tighter, and much better, book. Where is Max Perkins when you need him?
So I’m not going to discuss the structural problems with these books in much greater detail: said problems are immense, and if you’re going to tackle this story, you have to accept going in that the first volume is entirely setup, and over-long setup at that. Blackout should have probably been the first hundred pages, maybe, of the overall work. All Clear, which contains—finally!—the resolution, is better, but even it took a good 300 pages to start getting anywhere. Willis has a definite style, but it can start to seem like a crutch, especially when there’s not much else going on. It got to the point where I began groaning every time I read “But she didn’t” or “But he didn’t”—just like I grit my teeth through all of Tolkien’s “And lo!” and “And behold!”s in Return of the King.
The characters’ worries and reasoning about whether or not they were screwing up the timeline were frustrating as well. There were far too many instances of them deciding that they had corrupted it—oh wait, no they hadn’t! (See, I swear, it wouldn’t have even been that hard to cut this.) And the actual solution...how was this a surprise? To ANY of them? Am I somehow wrong in thinking that “the time traveler’s actions are and always were part of the timeline” is one of the major theories of how time travel would work? They use it on Doctor Who and Supernatural all the time. Willis’ Oxford books take place in the future, and I’d think that, even if this is a future where time travel has proved possible and this particular theory of time travel has supposedly been disproved, the characters would at least be aware of it. They’ve got a good century of pop culture behind them to make use of, after all! But instead, they’re totally shocked by the possibility, like people in modern zombie films who are totally taken aback by the revelation that a bite means you’re a ticking zombie time bomb. This just makes the characters seem really alarmingly thick.
So far, I’m making it sound like these books totally aren’t worth reading at all, but this isn’t entirely true. They fail on a number of levels, but Willis succeeds on a number of others, too—just to confuse you, I guess. Her depiction of the Blitz is fantastic and brilliantly vivid: as a story of ordinary people pulling together in impossible circumstances, these books are powerful and believable. The characters, once you work through their multiple aliases (very confusing over two books) and get over the fact that they all seem to process information in a startlingly similar way (“But he didn’t”)—they are characters to root for. Both Colin and Sir Godfrey are divine romantic heroes, and Willis, as usual, knows how to tug on your heartstrings, to write sacrifices so they feel painful and fully-realized. Once I got over the 300-page hump, I zipped through the second half of All Clear in an afternoon because I needed to know what happened to everyone. There is something here, to be sure—a spark of a good novel—which in a way makes it even more of a shame that it’s buried under so much excess stuff. Oh, Max, Max: we need to invent time travel for you....more
Okay, sometimes this thing were I get a lot of free books through my work can be both a blessing and a curse. Because often, something like this willOkay, sometimes this thing were I get a lot of free books through my work can be both a blessing and a curse. Because often, something like this will fall into my lap totally gratis, and while I would never actually buy it, when I haven't paid I'm all, “Haha, omg: it's time travel genderfuck RPF! This I have to read! It's gonna be hilarious!”
Um, no, it's not. It will be misogynistic and gross, though. *time travels, switches sex, and pats past!self on the head* Have fun, kid....more
Hey, dummy! You weren’t impressed by the last book you read by this guy, so why the heck would you try another of his titles? What were you thinking?
BHey, dummy! You weren’t impressed by the last book you read by this guy, so why the heck would you try another of his titles? What were you thinking?
But...but this one’s got time travel! The blurbs all said it was kind of like Life on Mars! I love Life on Mars!
Since when do blurbs ever tell the truth?
Yeah, okay, that one turned out to be totally bogus. But...time travel?
There really aren’t any interesting time travel ideas in this book. It’s boring and pointlessly violent, just like Swierczynski’s last book. And he ends it with another bullshit attempt at a twist ending, more idiotic than even the equally hard to spell Shyamalan’s usual crap. It’s the literary equivalent of a B-movie that would close with a card that says, “The End...Or Is it?!”
Admittedly that kind of made me want to stab myself.
So are you going to learn your lesson finally? Please?
Yeah, if I could, I’d go back in time...and not read this book!
I am so, so ashamed that we are actually the same person....more
New to the list of things Misha Collins has made me do: read an Anne Rice book. I really never thought I would do that again. Even at the height of myNew to the list of things Misha Collins has made me do: read an Anne Rice book. I really never thought I would do that again. Even at the height of my Buffy-induced vamp craze, I didn't care for Rice; I dragged myself yawning through Interview With the Vampire. Of course, Rice'd probably just tell me that means I was interrogating the text from the wrong perspective. I do have to thank you for that one, Anne: that meme never gets old.
But then Anne Rice found God, and I found Supernatural's Castiel, and suddenly both of us were worshiping things that are at least vaguely angel-shaped. As much as I mocked Rice's new book for its ridiculous title (“Is it Thursday? Oh goody”—brandishes book—“it be angel tiem nao”), I also sort of wanted to read it. The angel in Angel Time, the internet informed me, is described as having dark hair and bright blue eyes—just like Castiel! The human he saves from perdition himself is a self-hating blond assassin—close enough to Dean for government work and/or idle fantasies. Hello, hilarious assassin AU in convenient “I can read it on the bus” book form!
The novel itself is actually not hilarious at all—it may be, in fact, one of the most self-serious books I've ever read. And yet...it's also not bad. Most of the narrative involves not-Cas sending not-Dean to save a medieval Jewish family from being falsely accused of murder. I didn't care about this part, particularly, especially not in contrast to the interesting glimmers of not-Cas and not-Dean's burgeoning relationship: not-Cas watched him grow up, watched all the tragedy in his life unfold, felt what he felt! It's kind of fabulously over the top, and I know that if I slashed it, Anne Rice would bring the whole internet down upon my head. I will not be posting this review on Amazon.com.
Seriously, though: I'm very aware that I am interrogating this text from the wrong perspective. I am not getting what Anne Rice likely wants me to get out of it at all. I'm okay with that, though. Hopefully, given time and the better angels of her nature, Anne herself will come around....more
Ooh. This book is so fabulously clever and smart. It brings together: 1970s New York, the game show The $20,000 Pyramid, the many complexities of inteOoh. This book is so fabulously clever and smart. It brings together: 1970s New York, the game show The $20,000 Pyramid, the many complexities of interpersonal relationships, A Wrinkle in Time, and a fantastic mystery. I loved the characters, and was so impressed with how Stead (seemingly) effortlessly charts the ups and downs of their relationships: friendships forming and falling apart and coming together again. This is a kids’ book, but like I said it is a smart kids’ book, one in which Stead never writes down to her audience. And it’s funny. And suspenseful. And—oh, just read it. It’s brilliant....more
This fantastic new essay collection tackles topics as diverse as time travel, laugh tracks, ABBA, and some sports stuff that went over my head. But thThis fantastic new essay collection tackles topics as diverse as time travel, laugh tracks, ABBA, and some sports stuff that went over my head. But that's the great thing about Klosterman as an essayist: even when he's writing on a topic you know nothing about, he'll draw you in, he'll make you care.
It is perhaps also worth noting that this is perhaps the only book Klosterman has ever written that didn't piss me off at some point. I know, right? Perhaps marriage has mellowed him?...more
I really, really hated Rigler’s first novel, which this book is a sequel to. So why, you might reasonably ask, did I read the follow-up? The answer “II really, really hated Rigler’s first novel, which this book is a sequel to. So why, you might reasonably ask, did I read the follow-up? The answer “I am a glutton for punishment” might, likewise reasonably, be provided. In truth, the answer is perhaps sadder: I am desperate for time travel stories in which a person from the past travels to the present, and this novel, unlike its predecessor, is one such tale. It was also, thank the god of poor, goofy, don’t-know-what’s-good-for-them readers, significantly less annoying than the first book, and even rather enjoyable at times.
This can probably be attributed in part to Rigler’s growth as a writer—she smoothes out or just plain omits some of the plot points that made Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict so enormously dumb. But the fact is that the premise of our regency-born heroine, the unlikely-named Jane Mansfield, being transported to our present is just much more entertaining than Millennium girl Courtney Stone arriving in the past. For one thing, Jane has genuine reasons to be confused by all she encounters, while the bumbling and complaining Courtney just seemed stupid and whiny when confronted with the past she supposedly so loved to read about. Rigler also lets Jane actually stop and consider her prejudices and even have a bit of a feminist awakening, while Courtney, who in the last book called herself a feminist, consistently acted like the opposite, desperately swooning and waiting for a man to give her life meaning.
This is still not a great book, but I really did enjoy Jane wandering wide-eyed around 2009 Los Angeles. If you’re a fan of this particular—and sadly-underrepresented—sub-genre of time travel stories, than this would be a good title to add to your list; reading the first book is fortunately entirely unnecessary. And if you do know of any other good character-from-the-past-journeys-to-the-present books (or a snazzier name for the same), please do tell me!
P.S. This book, like its predecessor, has absolutely nothing to do with Jane Austen. Nice cheap marketing ploy, there!...more
This book has a truly rockin’ concept: British polar explorer Titus Oates—he of self-sacrificing “I am just going outside and may be some time” fame—dThis book has a truly rockin’ concept: British polar explorer Titus Oates—he of self-sacrificing “I am just going outside and may be some time” fame—did not in fact perish in Antarctica in 1912, but was instead rescued by scientists experimenting with new time travel technology in 2045. As Wychwood and I discussed in several very capslocky emails, how can one resist a book where, as she put it, “THERE IS TITUS OATES IN FUTURE NEW YORK AND ALSO SPACE ALIENS”? Especially when it’s available for free online? Answer: one cannot.
The execution is not quite as awesome as the concept, although such a thing would admittedly be hard. The narrative is told in a tight 3rd person POV, from Titus’ perspective, and I don’t know if this is a product of that, but the prose is very exclamation mark-heavy, which is not my favorite thing ever. There are also some frustrating misunderstandings, caused as much by Titus not paying attention as by him being thrust more than a hundred years into the future, and I felt that parts of the story dragged. Nevertheless, this is the best “person from the past goes to the future/present” book I’ve found so far, with the space and polar exploration bits being wonderful (no pun intended, Titus, I swear) icing on the cake. The romance is pretty tasty too. And did I mention that you can read it right now, for free? So it’s cake you can have and eat too!
Reread. I last read this when I was much younger, and mostly what I remember is that I found it unsettling and strange. For once, my memory is accuratReread. I last read this when I was much younger, and mostly what I remember is that I found it unsettling and strange. For once, my memory is accurate. This is nominally a time travel story, but perhaps because of time’s inexorable march, the English girls’ boarding school in the “modern” ’50s doesn’t seem all that different to someone reading in 2008 (or 199-whatever) from the English girls’ boarding school in the “past” of 1918. Yes, there’s a war going on in the latter, and that ends up playing a significant role in the story, but still, Charlotte’s present is so thinly sketched out that there almost might as well be one happening there as well. Charlotte, too, seems thin, barely there, so when she starts to feel like she’s losing herself in the identity of Clare, the girl she’s replaced in the past, the unease one feels is more that she never existed in the first place.
Maybe I’ll try again in another ten years, but I’m still not sure if I’ll know what to make of this book....more
Much better than Out of Time, although I still feel these books are getting sillier and sillier. I was also disappointed that Devonny-in-the-future tMuch better than Out of Time, although I still feel these books are getting sillier and sillier. I was also disappointed that Devonny-in-the-future took up so little of the narrative, but that’s more of a personal thing. What I did like: that Cooney doesn’t make the Devonny/Tod infatuation out to be more than it was, and the little redemption arc of Devonny’s cold, callous English fiancé. I am a sucker for that crap.
Actually, apply that last sentence to my relationship with these books IN GENERAL, and it’s possible that truer words have never, at any time, been spoken....more
Oh dear. This represents a serious drop in quality from its predecessor. Cooney allows the melodrama to totally take over: there are Victorian mentalOh dear. This represents a serious drop in quality from its predecessor. Cooney allows the melodrama to totally take over: there are Victorian mental hospitals! And teenage girls struck down by tuberculosis! And dastardly dudes plotting dastardly deeds! With the rapid intercutting between various characters, all of whom are separated from each other for one reason or another, it even reads like a soap opera: short scene-short scene-dramatic sting! Commercial/chapter break.
I’m also annoyed that Cooney apparently decided she was writing herself into a corner with the ending of Both Sides of Time, in which Annie realizes she’s being thrust backward instead of back to the future. But rather than include even a two-line explanation on how Annie got herself out of that one, Cooney just decides to ignore it. NOT COOL.
I’d probably give up right here, except the next one (finally!) involves one of those crazy Strattons coming forward in time. Way to suck me back in, Cooney. Way to suck me back in....more
Oh, the ridiculous time travel melodrama of my youth! This was actually better than I remembered. Yes, Annie and Strat do find TRUE LOVE at FIRST SIGHOh, the ridiculous time travel melodrama of my youth! This was actually better than I remembered. Yes, Annie and Strat do find TRUE LOVE at FIRST SIGHT, and yes, the ending’s a bit abrupt and not terribly well set-up. But I liked that Cooney kept this away from being total fluff by emphasizing how hard it would have been to be a woman—of any class—in the 19th century. Wow, books for teenage girls used to actually have empowering, feminist messages in them? Too bad that’s gone out of style. *cough TwilightyesIstillhaveissuescough*
Though I remember pretty distinctly reading this when I was 12, I never read the sequels. (Maybe our tiny town library didn’t have them?) I intend to remedy that now....more
I’m having a hard time figuring out how I feel about this book. The POV is great—Zits, the troubled half-Native American narrator, bounds out of his fI’m having a hard time figuring out how I feel about this book. The POV is great—Zits, the troubled half-Native American narrator, bounds out of his foster home and gets in your face. And the plot, which follows him as he comits a horrific act of violence, then gets sent bouncing around through time to other tumultuous points, is inescapably compelling. But I felt that in some ways Alexie is skating on the surface of the horror of this cycle of violence. Both the reader and Zits are jerked around so quickly that I kind of feel like everyone is let off too easily. White people—who are described as “beautiful” in this book with disturbing frequency—are given much too much of a free pass for what was, let’s face it, genocide. Maybe this is my liberal guilt overriding critical capacity, but…
This was still a really interesting book and I’m glad I read it. I should probably read more of Alexie’s work; it would likely give me insight into the themes he’s discussing here....more
English chicklit which I read for the time travel/deaging. Except it’s not really time travel OR deaging; it’s kind of trying to be both (or neither?)English chicklit which I read for the time travel/deaging. Except it’s not really time travel OR deaging; it’s kind of trying to be both (or neither?), so it’s basically all a muddle with no internal logic. Also the end’s a big cheat—why set up one of those “the protagonist must be clever and phrase her wish EXACTLY THE RIGHT WAY” scenarios if you’re just going to let her wish any old thing and have it come out peachy keen? While breezily written with some humorous bits and flashes of interesting characterization, this suffers badly from being a fantasy written by someone clearly unfamiliar with common fantasy tropes and even basic fantasy RULES. I’m all for breaking the rules, but you have to understand them first. If not…well, like I said, what you end up with is a total muddle....more