Monday, December 29, 2014

Review: Time and Time Again by Ben Elton

Title:  Time and Time Again

Author: Ben Elton
Publisher: 9th December 2014 Random House UK, Transworld Publishers, Bantam Press
ISBN: 9780593073568
Pages: 334 pages
How We Read It: ARC ebook
Genre: historical fiction, time travel, thriller
Our Rating: four cups


It’s the 1st of June 1914 and Hugh Stanton, ex-soldier and celebrated adventurer is quite literally the loneliest man on earth. No one he has ever known or loved has been born yet. Perhaps now they never will be.

Stanton knows that a great and terrible war is coming. A collective suicidal madness that will destroy European civilization and bring misery to millions in the century to come. He knows this because, for him, that century is already history.

Somehow he must change that history. He must prevent the war. A war that will begin with a single bullet. But can a single bullet truly corrupt an entire century?

And, if so, could another single bullet save it?

Our thoughts:

“If you could change one thing in history, if you had the opportunity to go back into the past, to one place and one time and change one thing, where would you go? What would you do?”

How thought provoking is that! What discussions could be had over a few drinks! This book is so very clever and ‘thought provoking’ does not even begin to come close on the possibilities that Elton delivers in this fictional drama. Everyone should read this book for the social commentary alone. Moral, social and cultural dilemmas are thrown at the reader from every angle. Add to that the historical detail and societal norms – thorough and real to life so you feel you are on the streets in Sarajevo or Berlin. We especially found the Franz Ferdinand assassination to be so extraordinary and incredible attention given to detail. Throw into the mix a fictional man on a mission and you have the recipe for one incredible journey of adventure.

We could not put this book down! Elton almost delivers the perfect novel – the premise has you from the get-go and from then on come twists and turns that will keep you ripping through the pages to the very end. The concept is well conceived and the writing clever and highly entertaining.

Although one suspends reality in a fiction book, there are occasions when marrying the factual truths and potential shift in scenarios, a bit too generous. For example, don’t delve too deeply into Newton’s supposed physics on time travel (fascinating though they are) and logistics big (could WW1 really have been prevented) and small (gun and ammunition questions) were difficult to fathom on a few occasions.

There is also the introduction of a major character, who although fascinating, took the spotlight off the essence of the tale (that aspect is a whole new story in itself). The whole balance of the book felt off to us towards the end – slightly rushed? But we guess, where was Elton to draw the line? That is the thing about going back in time. How can you know you've fixed things, improved past mistakes to make a better world?

Despite these minor hiccups, we thoroughly enjoyed this novel and highly recommend it.

“The debate always degenerated into name-calling battles been the Marxists, who contended that much of history was inevitable the result of preordained economic and material forces, and the romantics, who believed that history was made by individuals and that a single stomach ache or an undelivered love letter could have changed everything."

Are you a Marxist or Romantic? Read ‘Time and Time Again’ to discover that and much, much more.

You wont regret it.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

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