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The Time Traveler’s Wife

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Like I’ve written before, I am a sucker for time traveling, and to finish this little trifecta of time traveling reviews I give you The Time Traveler’s Wife.  A novel by author Audrey Niffenegger, who gives us the tale of Henry DeTamble who has a genetic disorder which unexpectedly causes him to time travel without control, and the love of his life Clare Abshire who’s life is interviewed with that of Henry’s from different times. This isn’t a time travel story in pure sci-fi “conventions”. This is not to say this isn’t sci-fi, because, well, there is time traveling involved. The time displacement is just a plot device there to help tell a deeper story, based more on characters and their relations between each other.

There is some time traveling rules that are followed in the novel. My favorite by far it the Terminator rule, where time traveling happens naked, and you are not allowed to bring anything to and from the future, or past. And like the beginning of every Terminator movie, Henry has to go trough all of the trouble of not being seen running around naked like a mad man. Every single time he travels. This of course makes Henry develop certain skills, like lock-picking, pickpocketing, fighting, and generally just running around surviving. The second main rule used in the novel is that no matter how hard you try, or what you do, there is no way to change what ever happened: no changing the past, no affecting the future, nothing. “Causality runs forward” says Henry.

This of course helps to pose the usual questions of choice and free will. There is an accident early in Henry’s life that he keeps coming back to. Useless as he cannot change anything, but haunting his life everyday.

Like I said, this is basically a love story of 2 people weaving in and out of each others life until the moment is finally right for them to be together in the now. I read on the wikipedia article that the author was in some sort of bad moment of her romantic life and used the time traveling as a metaphor for people being apart and getting close. Like anything in wikipedia this may or may not be true, but I can definitely see it in the writing.

This maybe just because of my own romantic mind set at the moment but I think we can all relate to the sort of time traveling made by Henry here. As we all do it at one point or another. For example, we might get thinking about an incident, a defining moment on a past relationship, you think about it long enough that you remember every single detail, as if you were there watching. You think about the things you should have said, or done differently. You try to warn yourself about the things that will happened after, and because of that moment. But in the end it is all a futile attempt to change things that already happened. In the novel Henry goes trough this many times and is forced to watch, or even interact in these situations, knowing what is going to happen and completely unable to change any detail.

This is a decent work of literature, one that can be examined and studied with ease. There is some missed opportunities, I think, with themes and character development that would’ve gone a long way.  There is a whole layer of art, and music, both classical and punk going on in the book, which music fans will eat it up. And helps give the characters a more 3d feel.

The ending left me sort of unsatisfied, but not because it is a bad ending in anyway. And now as I sit here thinking about it, I realize that it is an ending to the love story, a very good one. But no ending to the sci-fi part of it.

I do recommend this book. It is a fun and quick read. And it will make a great gift for your wife or girlfriend and something for you to share with her.  I was thinking how it could probably work well as a movie. Sure enough there seems to be one coming this August, with Erick Bana (modern Hulk) and Rachel McAdams (cute girl from many movies). Which thank god I read about it after I finished the book or it would’ve destroyed the way I imagined the characters. Which now I have ruined for everyone else.

And I’m done. Read a book!

Written by geminiman

June 21, 2009 at 7:02 pm