Friday, September 21, 2007

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (3/5 stars)

I listened to this book as an audio book. This was a very interesting book. It was a very unique perspective on time traveling. Although the book was less science fiction than I expected and more of a love story.

This book details the lives of Henry and Clare as they cope with Henry's inability to stay in the present, literally. Henry is often forced out of the present time into a time and place unknown to him and out of his control. The story takes you through Henry and Clare's lives and details the effects of time travel on their relationship and there attempt to live normal lives.

There was a lot I liked about this book. Looking at time travel as a genetic disease is very novel and interesting. We always think of genetics as being responsible for physical diseases (which I suppose this is in a way) but we never consider that genetics might be responsible for something so integral to daily life as time itself. The book is done in first person and the events are very deliberately unfolded. Each chapter starts both with the date and the ages of Clare and Henry; this was very helpful in keeping yourself organized with the plot-line. Without this the book would have been too confusing. The book is well written with detailed descriptions and thoughtful ideas.

It's a book that makes you look back on your own life and analyze the decisions you've made. It also makes you look back on the importance of certain events in your life. This is not a science fiction book; this is a drama with a slight slant on science fiction going on in the background. I liked the attempts at humor throughout the book; although they could have been more prevalent.

There are a few things I did not like about the book. Henry looks on everything with a sort of wry wit; Clare is very different. Throughout the whole book it seems like Clare is a woman obsessed. She is obsessed with Henry and then obsessed with having a baby. Clare has no sense of humor; it would have been nice to see a wider range of emotions from Clare then obsessive love and obsessive distress. To be quit honest I didn't like Clare. I thought she was a wee bit mental. I really didn't like the obsession she had with having a baby. Having recently had a baby I found the description of (spoiler coming up here) her miscarriages especially heart-rending. The rest of the whole baby experience was somewhat amusing. I found her unreasonableness when Henry brings up adoption to be especially obsessive and obnoxious. I suppose this is an effort to make Clare seem more human and intense maybe?

There were some inconsistencies in the second half of the book. For example what did they do with the lottery money they won? The second half of the book was much different than the first, it wasn't as interesting and is very depressing. There wasn't as much time travel. I also often wondered (while we heard a lot about Henry's day to day work) we never heard much about what Clare did with her art. Did she sell it? At one point there is mention on an art dealer at their party but that is the only mention I remember.

So all in all this book explored a very interesting concept and keep me hanging on until the end. I do think that the storyline could have been a bit tighter and that the writing style could have stayed more consistent throughout the book. It is an interesting read if you have the time for it; the book brings up a number of interesting questions about society and life in general. I would not classify this as a fun read or an easy read. In fact it's a rather depressing read. I think most people would be hard-pressed to get through this book without clouding up a little.

Here is a link to the book on Amazon:

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