Got this as a loaner from a friend. She didn’t tell me anything, so I went in cold.
Quite a book.
Hokay, imagine that a guy has a chromosome disorder, something that when he is stressed or upset or sometimes just random, he flushes, sweats, pukes, then jumps through time. And he always leaves his clothes behind.
So first off, he’s good at mugging people. And picking locks. And running.
But more important are the places and times he goes to – eras and locales that mean something to him. He watches his mother’s horrible death from every angle. He see’s himself in all sorts of critical times.
But more strange are the twists that are introduced. A girl comes up and introduces herself to him; she’s twenty or so, and he’s eight years older. She says she’s always known him, that he’s appeared in her private meadow while she was growing up, that he is her mentor, model, and (as we find out) lover. But he’s never seen her before.
But now that he has, his jumps are to her past. The very fact that she knows him means he knows her and his later jumps are to her – he appears in his late thirties, nude before her six year-old self. And it’s not chronological. Fortunately every chapter is given a date and their ages so we can keep things straight, but otherwise their meetings are like haphazardly set bowling pins, and time is this sixteen pound ball that just rolls through them, plunk plunk plunk.
I rather liked it. It was an interesting take to the usual shoot-your-grandfather time travel story, one that brushes forbidden love (i.e. pedophilia) but never crosses the line. There are other unique things, such as when your fifteen year old self goes back and meets himself a few months before. And what do fifteen year olds do when they are alone? Well, what if they are, literally, with themselves? What at first seems strange, if you think about it, really isn’t. Is it? Hmmm. Not too strange, I guess.
There are clever temporal twist, a shock or two, but grip those book covers tightly because even with all the flexibility time travel affords, fate is a cruel bitch and there is no escaping her. If anything, with his future-knowledge, he is more trapped than the rest of us normal-chrononauts. And the end? Well, you’ll have to just read it for yourself if you want to see if this is happy or sad.
It’s clever. And personal. And unconventional.
If you are an advanced reader, by all means, wind up the clock spring and read it.