**spoiler alert** I love sci fi books, and I knew this was more modern literature than sci fi, but the rave reviews of this book made me excited to gi**spoiler alert** I love sci fi books, and I knew this was more modern literature than sci fi, but the rave reviews of this book made me excited to give it a try. I listened to the audiobook version. I really enjoyed the first section, will Holly Sykes in 1984. The character was interesting, even if parts were a little predictable. She rushes to her boyfriend's to move in with him and finds him in bed with her best friend? Who saw that coming? Everyone. But her determination, her adventures, the introduction of Ed Brubeck, and the sci fi elements were all great, and when the next section started I was hoping to get back to Holly's viewpoint soon.
Unfortunately the next section was Hugo Lamb, who was one of the worst human beings ever constructed. I hated his section. Every scene was another example of how he betrayed a friend or ruined someone's life. I kept waiting for terrible things to happen to him. Then when he "fell in love" with Holly, his descriptions of love and jealousy were grating and overblown and juvenile. Are we supposed to be so stupid as to think this self-centered jerk could love anyone besides himself, even for a night? And that he would look back on that night, forty years later, and wonder if she loved him too? Doubtful. And boring. I was thankful when that section was over. The conversations in French were annoying. I don’t speak French, and I couldn’t skip the text because it was an audiobook.
The third section was mixed. The jumps between current time and flashback were difficult with the audiobook because I couldn't see the break in the text to show that it was a different section, and the audio was continuous as if it was just another paragraph. But that's not a fair criticism of the book, just a quirk of the narration. I liked Ed Brubeck. He was a great character, conflicted about his job and his family. He was a war junkie, but trying to either deny it or change it. But ultimately I got frustrated with Ed, and I just wanted him to decide to stay home, and quit fighting with Holly. I can understand the appear of the war zone reporter, but as a new father I was appaled that he had been away for most of his daughters first six years of life. The section ended without a definite decision being made whether he would stay or not, which was frustrating. It's later revealed that he did stay that time, but then went back to war zones, and was killed by a missle, which seemed like a cruel and offhanded way to get rid of the character.
The fourth section was the crabby novelist Crispin Hershey. He was almost as bad as Hugo Lamb, but he was more crabby than evil. I quickly got sick of his attitude. I understand he mellowed later, and became good friends with Holly, but I couldn't really understand why. He was just such a jerk. I didn't think he deserved to be shot, but I wasn't sorry to see him go. I just wish there would have been a point to the woman who shot him. She had poetry about the Atemporals, but I don't think that was ever mentioned again.
The fifth section finally gets into the meat of the sci fi plot, and is the viewpoint of Marinus, one of the Atemporals. This section I enjoyed. The near-future elements were pretty basic, and didn’t distract from the plot. The flashbacks into her own past were fascinating. It’s fun to imagine that Mitchell wrote outlines of a dozen past lives to determine where she might have been at different points in history, or what would have affected her metalife. The only criticism I have is that the descriptions and limits of the Atemporals powers are vague. I would have read an entire book based on this section, with more Atemporal characters fleshed out, most past lives, and a better understanding of their power.
Section six goes back to Holly’s viewpoint. This section was the most boring, and in my opinion the most pointless. It was bleak. This section could have been five to ten pages, and would have had the same impact to me. The descriptions of how humans destroyed the planet and how society collapsed were preachy. I got sick of hearing about how everything was getting worse, and there was no hope for human civilization. I just wanted it to end. And finally it did....more