Monday, August 22

A Time-Travel Book Review

Time and Again by Jack Finney

"Called 'the great time-travel story' by Stephen King, Time and Again is admired for its rich, painstakingly researched descriptions of life in New York City more than a century ago, and for the swift adventure at its core."

The greatest thing about this book is the very thing that made my eyes glaze over: The book's rich, painstakingly researched description of life in New York City in the 1880's. I love time travel books; it's one of my favorite genres, but I also like a lot of action from characters. This book claims "rich adventure" that I suppose is there, but I couldn't seem to dig it out. Action? Not so much.

This book was so filled with descriptions I had a difficult time sorting out the story. My mind wandered--a lot. I skimmed--a lot. The actual story, or adventure, starts about halfway through the book. I think anyone who is a life-long resident of New York City or anyone who is interested in the detailed history of NYC or detailed descriptions of what everyone was wearing in 1882 will find this book interesting. Did I mention how painstakingly detailed it is?

Critics seem to love it. Stephen King thought it was great. It's a classic. (Published in the 1970's and re-released this year.) That's the reason I read it all... the... way... through. If a book doesn't make me care about the story or characters by the third or fourth chapter, I usually stop reading and move on to another book. I love Stephen King's work and respect his opinion, but, this time, I must respectfully disagree. 

I've read time travel books that captured my interest in the beginning and kept me reading into the night on many occasions. My advice? If you're curious, borrow it from the library and read it before you buy it.

All of that said, it does have one of the best time-travel endings I have read in a long time. It touches on the debate among time-travel lovers everywhere: Can you go into the past to change the future? The ending almost made sticking with the book worthwhile. Almost.

Have you ever read a book that everyone loved, but you couldn't figure out why?


  1. My favorite time travel book is Lightning by Dean Koontz. Awesome read. Lots of action.

    As for your question... I guess it was Stranger in a Strange Land. It was popular (I believe--I first tried to read it in the 70s), and I enjoyed it up to a point where I just lost interest. It got weird. A couple of decades later I decided to try it again. Almost stopped at the same point, but kept reading anyway. I hated the ending! Don't know why people thought it was good. I just thought it turned out weird.

    Anywhoo, if you love time travel books, give Jennette Marie Powell a try. "Time's Enemy" is currently free on Nook (probably Kindle, too). You might even learn a little bit about Dayton's history. :)

  2. Have you noticed that books have gotten... I don't know, better, I think, for lack of a better word. Used to be that books could meander for a bit and then find the plot, but we don't have the patience for that anymore. And I think that's a good thing.

    I tend to shy away from popular books, so I can't think of instances of ones that everyone loved that I hated. Although, I'm sure there would be instances of that.

  3. Thanks, Stacy. I haven't read either of those books (Lightning or Time's Enemy). I'm always looking for a good book to read and good time travel stories are difficult to find. I plan to look for those two. Thanks for the suggestion!

  4. I thought it was just me, Liz. Yes, I do believe books are better today. I think the pace is faster and they hold my interest better. The odd thing about "Time and Again" is that it is a re-release. The book was originally published in the 1970's, so reading it was like going back in time to the 1880's in an old 1970's time machine--if that makes no sense, I understand. Ha, ha.

  5. I recommend Lightning, as well :-)
    Much as I love Stephen King, I could not read the Green Mile or that other little western set of books. I did however, love the Green Mile movie.
    Thanks for the heads-up on Time and Again. It's a shame (and a lesson, I guess) one can get so caught up with setting description as to revolt both character and reader. Mental Note To Self: Don't make that mistake. (grin)

  6. I don't think I've put aside any flowery books, but I don't think I've picked up any either. Or if I did, I dropped them quick enough and blocked it from my memory. :) I stopped reading GRRM's Song of Fire and Ice series after the first book because it was too darn depressing for me. I also put aside The Passage about halfway through. Likely because of the depressing nature too. Maybe that's why I gravitate toward humor?