Laura's Reviews > The Time Traveler's Wife

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
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May 16, 2008

it was ok
Read in May, 2008

Just because something is popular does not mean it's good. Mass "taste" is often incredibly bad. Such is the case with this book, only it's not incredibly bad, just not worth the hours it takes to read it.

It seems like every fiction book I've read in the past couple of years is highly depressing, this one included. My life is full enough of it's own challenges and disappointments that I'd like to read to escape. Yes, if novels are full of heartache and struggle, they are realistic and more accurately reflecting real life. Well, this book is clearly not realistic anyway, and the amount of trauma that happened to Henry went beyond what an average person encounters. I appreciate what Niffenegger was trying to do, and it certainly has it's romanticism, but it was not enjoyable to read.

At the beginning, I had a hard time getting past the ridiculousness of the time traveling man that is the main premise of the book. I compared it to the annoying, short-lived tv show "Journeyman", the (also depressing) movie "Premonition", and the time-traveling bits in "Lost". To better swallow it, I thought of it as a children's book for adults. So I finally got past the goofiness of time-travelin' Henry. It was interesting how the author put together all the different past and futures. I thought she did a good job with how she chose to order them in the book. Where was the plot though? While this is not a traditional story in its presentation, if you put the different scenes in sequential order it should be. Instead of a story with much of a plot though, it was more like an anthropological ethnographic study of Clare and Henry. One third of the book was just them having sex and making coffee. It read to me as more of a descriptive chronicle than a tale with messages to relay.

I also thought that Niffenegger never fully developed certain pieces like what happened to Henry's dad after Henry visited him and he was barely holding it together. Later in the book, he comes across as a typical, mostly functioning father, but we don't see how that change occurred. It also isn't clear why Henry likes Gomez. It must be nice for Henry to have a friend who knows his secret, and Gomez does some stuff to help out Henry and Clare, but why the bond? The first time they all have dinner together, Gomez is highly rude to Henry, but then the next time they meet during one of the time travels, they're all buddy-buddy. It's not like Henry's just using him for help; he actually likes him on some emotional level. One would think Gomez being in love with Clare would get in the way of that.

To wrap this up, I also think the author tries too hard to make Clare and Henry cool: Clare with her dramatic artsiness and Henry with his incredible scope of book knowledge and languages, plus all the stuff about their music tastes. I don't think she does a very good job of showing how Henry goes from being the selfish, lost young jerk to the caring, mature husband. It's supposed to be Clare's influence, but the process is not really shown. There's another huge gap in info that bothers me, but it would be a spoiler. (Hard to believe you could have a spoiler without much plot, but there are a couple pieces that are major events in the book.)

All in all, interesting concept tying time travel to romance, but with real life being trying enough, I need something more light-hearted.
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02/04/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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message 1: by Kate (new) - rated it 1 star

Kate I agree with you, especially about "mass" taste being generally poor. I cannot believe this book have 30K+ 5 star reviews.


Laura Kate wrote: "I agree with you, especially about "mass" taste being generally poor. I cannot believe this book have 30K+ 5 star reviews. "

Thank you. I've gotten some comments from people who were bothered by my review and argued the greatness of the book. Yet the more I think about the book, the more I remember things about it that annoyed me.


message 3: by Kate (new) - rated it 1 star

Kate I thought it was not good at all. My librarian warned me, but I had to check it out for myself. I also had to write my own review.


Lynette Your comment "every fiction book I've read in the past couple of years is highly depressing" is the exact reason why I'm 30 and I STILL read "Junior Room" books. I have a very hard time finding adult fiction that isn't either 1) depressing, or 2) about mainly sex and drugs. My husband loved The Time Traveler's Wife - I really don't understand why!


Laura Lynette wrote: "Your comment "every fiction book I've read in the past couple of years is highly depressing" is the exact reason why I'm 30 and I STILL read "Junior Room" books. I have a very hard time finding ad..."
Just today my husband said, "Maybe you should go back to reading Young Adult books!" (referring to how I read When You Reach Me recently and really liked it.) I think you are on to something!


Lynette I recommend Robin McKinley, Tamora Pierce, and select titles by Shannon Hale (who also writes fantastic adult fiction, namely Austenland and I just started The Actor and the Housewife and am enjoying it).


Lynette Okay, I take it back - I don't like The Actor and the Housewife. Hale is friends with Stephanie Meyer, need I say more?


Laura Lynette wrote: "Okay, I take it back - I don't like The Actor and the Housewife. Hale is friends with Stephanie Meyer, need I say more?"

haha, thanks for the insight.


Shannon OMG, I couldn't even finish this book after the foreshadowing of the depressing as hell ending! I read the spoilers and read ahead to those depressing scenes in the book instead. Seriously, like you said, why did the author chose to put Henry through such hell at the end? I don't understand it. I also had a hard time getting into this book and really feeling the connection between Clare and Henry...it didn't feel like they were really that madly in love and the love on Henry's part seemed to appear out of nowhere. I didn't get any inner dialogue about how they felt about each other, it just seemed disconnected. Though the depressing ending has made me sad, though I think that's only b/c I was hoping for a happily ever after since I've spent all week reading this book, that I'm not that into, and instead now I feel jipped (spelling?)! I feel like I've just wasted a week! I'm very disappointed with this book...if I had known it would be this messed up and sad at the end, I never would have read it!


Ahmed Alhassan I actually only saw your mean comments that don't make any sense. I think the poor "mass" taste is yours :/ I disagree very much with you! This book actually gives a better understanding and a good idea about how it works. The idea it put actually breaks the grandfather paradox and many many paradoxes about time traveling. I think you didn't like it because it removed your thoughts about the freedom of time traveling and the silly science fiction of movies. I respect you didn't put extra criticizing about things that the book doesn't contain, respecting the work put into it, and acting like an envious old lady like someone who posted a crappy review ._.


Gaiaseyes451 What I can't comprehend is why you would read this book if you don't like the premise. If you don't want a crushingly heartbreaking, massively tragic, wholly unrealistic story line why would you ever pick up this book? Or, once you get a taste of the foreshadowing, why would you keep reading? Just because this is not the type of book you enjoy does not mean it is a bad book.


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