**spoiler alert** Despite certain obvious problems, which I'll address later, I really did enjoy this book. The way the time lines are streamed togeth**spoiler alert** Despite certain obvious problems, which I'll address later, I really did enjoy this book. The way the time lines are streamed together with a little foreshadowing at each step was great. The two voices of Henry and of Clare allowed for decent character development, although the author could have made greater efforts to make them sound different. The writing styles from both of their perspectives were too similar to distinguish the fact that there were two different minds at work. I appreciated the author's attention to the practical aspects of Henry's predicament - the necessity of running, self-defense, pick pocketing, lock picking, clothing stashes, never changing his phone number. I loved the story, even if it was a bit depressing toward the end.
I've read some of the reviews written by other people on GoodReads. The two biggest critiques that keep popping up over and over concern 1) the cooler-than-thou hipster lifestyle & the constant name-dropping of bands, writers, everything pop-culture, etc, etc, ad nauseum by the author, and by extension, the main characters; and 2) the time traveling aspect of the book. As for the former, I agree that a certain smug pretension permeates much of the book and, I kept thinking to myself, "Ok, you're cool. We get it." But since Henry is a librarian, I'd expect his character to be well-read and articulate. The book also implied that he spent much of his time while traveling exploring museums and attending concerts, which made that element fit. So this problem was forgivable in my opinion. As for the time traveling aspect, well, that's the whole premise of the book. Get over it! Obviously a willing suspension of disbelief is necessary for reading this book, so if you can't get past that, don't bother. Simple.
Some aspects that I thought could have used further development:
1. The quick acceptance of time travel as a fact of nature by tertiary characters. I know that it often took seeing Henry disappear in front of their eyes or seeing him in double for them to believe his stories of time travel, but once that hurdle was jumped it seemed to be easily and quickly processed. Maybe its my skeptical nature, but I found this hard to swallow. Lame.
2. Henry's interaction with his time traveling daughter. In the book Henry comments on how blind his father must have been not ever realizing that the adult Henry he encountered every now and then was actually his son. And yet, there is only one instance mentioned in the book when Henry meets his daughter before he realizes who she is. I was expecting there to be more incidents and development of this angle.
3. The creepiness of Clare having sex with an older Henry, while the younger Henry lay sleeping in the bed right next to them. I know it's supposed to the be same person, but wouldn't it still feel a little like cheating? At the very least, creepy in the voyeuristic sense? Ew.
4. While I tried not to concern myself too much with the inherent problems of any story involving time travel, my biggest issue is probably the implication that the past can never be changed to affect the future. Again, this falls into the category of 'willing suspension of disbelief', and I should probably just accept it and move on, but I didn't like that this aspect implied that there's no free will. How is it possible that no matter what actions you take to try to change the past, the outcome will always be the same? Of all the problems with time travel, this was the hardest for me to swallow.
5. Clare's life on constant pause. I just felt sorry for her character. To be so hopelessly in love with and waiting for one man all her life, and then to be widowed at such a young age but never knowing when Henry of the past might be popping into your present... That sounds like such a depressing life. The ending is a bit ambiguous, but I'd like to believe that eventually she does move on, remarries and is able to have more children and eventually grand-children, which might explain all the boots that Henry trips over in the house of eighty-year-old Clare. That makes me feel better for her character so I'll stick with that. :)