Sunday, July 31, 2005

Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

I’m going to start this review by explaining that I probably should have never read this book to begin with. This book is considered to be a love story involving time travel -- and I don’t especially like love stories, and I despise the idea of time travel. But on my frequent visits to the library, I’m trying to branch out some and read some different types of book. It’s on all the displays at the bookstores and keeps recommending the book to me. You’d think Amazon knows me by now. You’d think…

So first I’ll explain my dislike of time travel, which may have severely tempered my opinion of this book. In general, I’m okay with science fiction and fantasy, in small doses. But the concept of time travel is absurd to me. Absolutely and completely impossible. So why bother writing about it or thinking about it? I spend at least 50% of my life thinking about what I would do differently if could do it over. Time travel. That’s the ultimate dream for me. To be eighteen again, so many different choices I would have made, all the times I would have yes instead of no or maybe later. All the chances I would have taken, the things I would do differently. So to read or think about time travel is simply torture for me. A big tease, something so impossible that it can never happen, so why think of it?

This book presents time travel as a type of medical condition. Chronological displacement. A genetic defect that Henry is trying to cure.

The story is quite strange, though the writer begins each section with a date and the ages of the characters, so there isn’t much risk of confusion. But if you stop to think about the story, it sounds a little too bizarre and a bit lacking on the love element. An adult, married Henry travels back in time, meets his wife, Clare, as a six year old. He visits her on several occasions during her childhood, informing her that someday they’ll meet and be married. So as a college student, Clare runs into him, tells him they’re going to be married and they end up together. Call, me silly but I assume a love story should involve a little more choice.

I never felt that any great love existed between the two. I didn’t like the main characters very much at all. They both seemed so completely absorbed with their own small little world. I don’t like people like that and I don’t like reading about people like that. Maybe that’s why I prefer crime stories that involve people trying to make the world a better place. Clare was selfish and immature, her only goal in life was to get pregnant. Henry just wanted to get laid as much as possible.

I think that might have been the biggest turn-off with regard to this book. The sex is blatant, crude and a bit too much. This might be something that other readers enjoy or equate with romantic. To me, it just sounded gross. If a book must include sex, I prefer it be a bit more subtle and leave more to the imagination.

I didn’t like this book. I didn’t find it to be especially intriguing or romantic or enjoyable. The ending was more interesting than the beginning but mired in sadness. I’m beginning to think that branching out with regard to books may not have been one of my better ideas. The next time I consider reading a book because it has so many glowing reviews and so many people seem to love it, I need to remind myself that a large number of people also think George W. is a fine president. The majority doesn’t always know what is best.

My recommendation: A lot of people like this book, so I feel wrong in steering anyone away from it. I didn’t like it and I wish I hadn’t wasted time reading it. But then again, I don’t like romances or time travel.

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