Sep 23, 11
Read in September, 2011
This book may suffer by being read by me in 2011 instead of 1991. I would have loved it then. Now, the time travel part seems a bit like "Timeline" by Crighton. It wasn't explained especially well, and the main character believed it far too easily. Of course, characters believing crazy things is part of time travel novels that is always problematic for authors. Diana Gabaldon may have done it best.
Once back in time, everybody acts far too blase about being back in time. I would be a total rube tourist, staring at everything. People were different back then, and I'm not sure this comes across well- the different values and morals. Doyle is at first far too naive- I knew about "altering" beggars from Slumdog Millionaire, a movie that hadn't come out when this book was written. Again, a time-traveling me in 1991 would have liked it better. But then he settles in curiously well to a beggar's life. He goes from a whiny wimp to an aggressive hero too quickly, and realizes he's been poisoned and acts on it in a very advanced-chemistry kind of way too quickly. By the end of the book I couldn't believe in any real peril for him. So tension was lost there.
I liked Jacky's character, but didn't get enough of her. And the book was quite episodic. I think it was written as a novel, but it almost read like a series of short stories about Doyle's character.
The horrific elements were well done, but I think Powers did supernatural menace better in "The Stress of Her Regard" and "Three Days to Never". Horribin starts off as the scariest clown in the world, but then lost some of his terror next to a guy on spring shoes, which seems absurd as much as scary.
The book moves from action scene to action scene. They are staged well, but a bit of introspection on someone's part might have made this a deeper, more involving book. I felt like I was running to catch up with the action instead of being absorbed in the book.