Sara's Reviews > Time and Time Again

Time and Time Again by Ben Elton
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bookshelves: 2014, adult, books-i-own, science-fiction, time-travel, historical-fiction

Being a huge fan of Blackadder with a keen interest in all things time travel, Ben Elton's Time and Time Again caught my eye in the book store. Initially I left the store without a copy, choosing instead to purchase some five other books like the materialistic machine that I am before continuing on with my life, but several days later I found myself drawn back to the book store through a strange need to read this timey wimey thing.

Reader, I bought it. And now I'm pondering the alternate history that could have been had I not bought it.

That is not to say that Time and Time Again is a bad book - it's a reasonably well-thought out tale of one Hugh Stanton, soldier wonderboy, internet celebrity and Cambridge graduate. Stanton (because we must bloke-ily refer to him in the third person by his last name)(yes, I just made the word 'bloke-ily' up) is chosen by the disciples of Isaac Newton to stand in a room in Constantinople and be sent back to 1914 to change the course of history that has lead to 2024 being a terrible year for humanity. The concept is intriguing and the pace is quick, however the story at times felt hollow when moving from A to B (or B to A, as it were).

We are told that 2024 is a terrible year, what with those dang kids and their cell phones and the internet and rain and things, but I'm not convinced. Elton writes in a brief way, maintaining a quick pace and speeding through thoughts quickly, however this at times left me wanting more by way of explanation. The world building was lacking in the modern 2024, with the 1914 world perhaps only saved by our observational knowledge of the time providing a foggy canvas for Stanton's world to minutely build upon.

The characters themselves are also rather flat, with Stanton seeming no more than a tall and supposedly handsome beefcake whose actions largely revolve around the women in his life. The women are no more multi-dimensional, all being fairly one-sided caricatures - the crazy old lady, the good wife, the suffragette, the I-don't-even-know-because-she-wasn't-fleshed-out-enough. The most believable characters were the real historical figures, mere pawns in Stanton's journey, but still larger than life.

The premise of the story itself, however, is nicely executed. The twists keep the story interesting, and while I didn't see them coming, they feel like a natural progression of the idea. I found myself skim-reading a lot of Stanton's repetitive and superfluous thoughts but stuck with it to find out where it all would end. The story wraps up so nicely that you could tie it with a bow, but - as all good books should - it sticks with you. The concept of changing history and altering the entirety of time for billions of people is vast and interesting, and the book presents an intriguing take on alternate histories.

Ultimately Time and Time Again is an easy read, and while light on character depth it more than makes up for it with neat plot twists and adept handling of its thought-provoking subject matter.
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Reading Progress

November 4, 2014 – Shelved
November 4, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
November 5, 2014 – Started Reading
November 10, 2014 –
page 93
24.09% "Going ok so far. Finding it a bit drawn out and can't really get too into it at this point, but will persevere."
November 15, 2014 – Finished Reading
November 21, 2014 – Shelved as: 2014
November 21, 2014 – Shelved as: adult
November 21, 2014 – Shelved as: books-i-own
November 21, 2014 – Shelved as: science-fiction
November 21, 2014 – Shelved as: time-travel
November 21, 2014 – Shelved as: historical-fiction

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