Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

The Time Traveler's Wife
Audrey Niffenegger

From Goodreads: When Henry meets Clare, he is twenty-eight and she is twenty. Henry has never met Clare before; Clare has known Henry since she was six. Impossible but true, because Henry finds himself periodically displaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity from his life, past and future. Henry and Clare's attempts to live normal lives are threatened by a force they can neither prevent nor control, making their passionate love story intensely moving and entirely unforgettable. The Time Traveler's Wife is a story of fate, hope and belief, and more than that, it's about the power of love to endure beyond the bounds of time.

Because this is such a well-known book, I originally wasn't planning to post a review of it. And then I actually read it and found that I had many Things To Say, so here it is. 

Somehow I both loved and hated this book. I know, it doesn't make sense to me either. I was definitely a fan of the writing style; it was filled with that sort of understated, droll humor that appeals to me. Henry and Clare's relationship was really well done. The book was packed with emotion, and has successfully achieved a place as one of about five books I've read that has made me cry. (A lot. Don't finish this book in public.)

So all that was great. The middle was a bit slow, but I would have been fine with that if it were the only problem. What really bothered me was the meaningless suffering. There was no reason for the book to end the way it did. A horrible accident? A series of unfortunate events? That's really how you're going to do this? I get that this is supposed to be a tragedy, and that's fine. But if you're going to write a tragedy, make it a significant one. Sacrifice is far more touching than accidents.

The time traveling thing could have been great too. Near the beginning of the book, Clare describes the way things Henry does in his future determine the past and present as a Möbius strip, and I think that's a perfect analogy. So Niffenegger did explore, a little, the question of determinism v. free will, but really didn't go anywhere with it. If that could have been tied to the ending somehow, I think it would have been really amazing. I mean as long as it didn't destroy the space-time continuum or anything, anyway.

The Time Traveler's Wife was a good book. I think what bothers me so much about it is that I can see so clearly how it could have been really, truly spectacular, and it was so very close. If it were just an okay book I would have no problem listing off the issues and going away to do something else. The frustrating part is having the potential for greatness present but unrealized.

Anyway. This is definitely a book you should read. Be prepared for emotional impact. Bring tissues. And try not to wish for more than is actually there.

Plot: 2 cupcakes
Characters: 4 cupcakes
Style: 4 cupcakes
Overall: 3 cupcakes

If you liked The Time Traveler's Wife, try:
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay
Spindle's End by Robin McKinley

1 comment:

  1. I tried but just could not get through this one, it was torture.


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