Kerry's Reviews > The Prodigal Hour

The Prodigal Hour by Will Entrekin
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's review
Jul 03, 2012

liked it
Recommended to Kerry by: Kindle freebie
Read from June 29 to July 04, 2012

Enjoyable time-travel story. The setup in the first half was compelling: we are introduced to Chase (a survivor of the 9/11 attacks on the towers in New York) and Leonard (a suave time-traveling scientist), and we realize that they exist in different, but equivalent, worlds. Parallel worlds.

In his attempts to explain space-time and alternate universes in a pop fiction/lite kinda way, author Will Entrekin does a fair amount of name-dropping (like Greene and Kaku--Brian and Michio, presumably). He also give us tiny slivers of quantum theory.

Chase (and Cassie, who appears to be the actual brains of the pair but plays only a secondary role) use a device invented by Chase's father to alter the direction of time. In Leonard's world, time travel is initiated by entering the Schrodinger Chamber. (My brain doesn't wrap around all of the quantum concepts but I do get a kick out of the Schrödinger's cat thought experiment.)

The time-traveling kicks into gear in the second half of the book, and that's where things got (unintentionally) funny.

In order to enjoy the story at all, I had to suspend lots of disbelief. In the part of the story that takes place in the weeks following 9/11, federal agents question a scientist about his ties to al Qaeda. Really? The agents would disclose this kind of information to a suspect, let alone in front of the suspect's family, in his own home?

There was a Calvin Klein joke stolen from Back to the Future, and a backhanded shout-out to Stephen King ("The hand of God has only ever intervened when Stephen King hasn't known how to end a novel"). There was also an element of Groundhog Day when Chase finds himself doing the same thing over and over, trying to alter the outcome.

Best (worst) of all, there was the ridiculousness of dressing in sheets from Target (!) to prepare for a trip back to the days of Jesus. And the inanity of Chase speaking to Roman soldiers using his law-clerk Latin: "Nolo contendere. Pax vobiscum," he tells them. The episode covers a serious historical event, but the way our modern-day protagonist interacted was just laughable.

I started to suspect that Chase was experiencing 9/11 survivor's guilt or post-traumatic stress, rather than wrinkles in the space-time continuum.

Meanwhile, Leonard, a supposedly sharp guy, seems perplexed by a world parallel to his own. He is convinced that the "other" world is the alternate, and his is the "real." What ego-centrism, what time-and-place centrism he exhibits!

The author gives us an entertaining summary about the recent history of a world alternate to ours (Bill Clinton is Prime Minister of the North American Union; George W. Bush has ties to Saudi Arabian terrorists).

Overall, this was a quick, easy read.

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