Thursday, February 21, 2008

Time Traveler's Wife - Book Review

My other blog takes up so much of my time that I'm constantly remiss about posting things here. Anyway, my new book club read and discussed the Time Traveler's Wife a few days ago. This is one of those books that makes you re-think classifications. Obviously a science fiction book (it deals with time travel) it was marketed to the general fiction crowd. I find it interesting that people who wouldn't even glance at the SF section for fear of being contaminated by something will pick up and read this book without batting an eye.

It's especially funny, as one of the people at the book club members pointed out, because it's basically a harlequin romance. Take out the time travel (or leave it in) and the story is still: boy meets girl, they are separated by circumstances, they meet again and get married, they have problems, they work them out. The only non romance aspect is that the ending is rather bitter sweet (I won't ruin it for people who haven't read the book yet).

Does that make it a bad book? No. I have to admit that I found the first third of the book very confusing. The characters jump back and forward in time so much that it was hard to remember who said what when who was which age, and as the scenes at the beginning are filled in later on (they happen to Claire, the wife, when she is a child and Henry, the traveler, when he is middle aged) it's important to remember what happened when. In fact, several of the scenes only made sense to me in discussion when someone would point out that X explained why Y happened (I had no clue that the sleep lab jump coincided with the broken glass dinner until someone mentioned it).

Once the characters met in real time and things progressed in a more linear direction I enjoyed the book a lot more. All in all though, as a science fiction reader, I'd put this more in the literary fiction category. There was a token explanation as to why Henry is able to time travel but not enough for me to rate it among the SF greats. Want good science? Give this a pass. Want an interesting read that requires discussion? Then pick this up right away.

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