Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Time and Time Again

Just finished two time travel novels and I surely wish I had more time! I always look forward to seeing time travel movies and reading time travel novels because the possibilities are endless (and timeless) just as any sub-genre in science fiction can be. I believe it is harder to write a good and internally consistence time travel novel. It is so easy to forget which timeline the guy shaved his head or when did he speak to that woman named Susan or When did Elaine become Polly. As confusing as it is for the author and the editor, think of the poor reader who is doing their best to unravel a world full of crossing paths especially when there are consistence errors. The Polly thing threw me for such a loop and it wasn't until the second reading of Willis' book that I realized it was a typo!

First up is:

Faces in Time
By Lewis Aleman
Publisher: Megalodon Entertainment LLC

From Amazon:
A 20-Year Race Through Time...
     In the near future, one man holds the key to our past. Chester Fuze lived a solitary life until he flung himself twenty years back in time. For years, he had loved movie star Rhonda 
Romero through television screens, movie theaters, and magazine covers. It wasn't until she had fallen so far as to sell her face for a cosmetic transplant that he knew he had to travel back and save her before her life headed down such a tragic and destructive path. Lunging backward through two decades in a flash, Chester races across country and enters the world of seedy gambling and the bizarre jungle of behind-the-scenes Hollywood, while being hunted down by a deranged bookie, an escaped convict, and even his past self, all of whom are determined to kill him. He had put aside the secret to time travel, daring not risk the world to test his theory. It had placed him in a straight jacket for several years of his life. It had estranged his own mother from him. He had let it go for his own sanity. Now, he'll pick it back up to save Rhonda. God help us all.

About the Book:
     The story opens with Chester watching all the news coverage of Rhonda Romero's face transplant for money operation and recovery through the various news outlets. This is the woman he has passionately loved from afar for more than 20 years! We follow Chester as he makes the jump to 20 years earlier; his whole being bent on saving Romero from this fate worse than death - selling her face for billions (face prostitution). But some things don't make sense. Why is his car there when he goes back? Where did the purple shirt come from? Can he actually change events or will he have to suffer through everything again? And why, when everything he had with him came through unchanged, is he looking 20 years younger?
   As the story proceeds Chester is faced with problems trying to save Romero, problems with his present day self, problems with a bookie out to kill him, and problems trying to save another young woman's life

My take:
    The basic plot is interesting. The first few pages piqued my interest enough to pay 99 cents. Yes, there was some torturous descriptions and similes but the plot felt like it would go somewhere new and different. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Have you ever watched one of those crime shows where the first five minutes is spent looking at the evil psychopath or through the eyes of the killer?  Remember how eerie that is? The first 30% of this book feels just like that. To top it off almost half of the book is like this:

      "Sometimes that which one wants to see least is the hardest from which to look away. It was a meek moment thrust into audacious light when Rhonda Romero, the fallen star and facial donor, exited the hospital two days later. The clicking, the flashing, the calamity of it all; it was both a sad intrusion and a powerfully obscure perversity."
      Or this:
     One discriminates one's company shrewdly in youth, lightly in adulthood, and with broad abandon in age. In youth, one expects the most interesting and perfectly uniform friends. By old age, one brightens just at the sight of another born within the same decade who might remember the same sone, movie, or event - one who might hold some knowledge on how to defeat their ticking nemesis or, in the least, help one better enjoy life's slow, automated ride."

     Such passages wouldn't be terrible if the first half of the book wasn't ALL written this way. If any of you have read the original Frankenstein by Shelley and thoroughly enjoy the slow pace of the plot due to language such as this, you might well enjoy Faces in Time. For me, both were hard to read, but yes, I read them to the very end. For the last 25% of the book, Aleman finally lets the reader enjoy the plot, though the plot is quite thin in the end.
   I didn't find the characters enticing nor fully filled out. Even our protagonist is a little hard to take because the first 20% or more of the book is spent wondering if he is a psychopath or not.  It is hard to change horses in the middle of a race, even if it is a slow one.
   I don't fully recommend this book to anyone but caution the reader to be wary. Much of the book reads like a treatise and I never did find it actually telling a good story.


Next on base:

Do Over
By Jeff Kirvin

From Amazon:
Richie Preston is 27 years old and still lives in his parents' house, still works at a dead end job, lost his great love, still hasn't really begun his life.

One day the fates smile on him and give him the opportunity to start over, to go back to being 17 and about to start his senior year of high school, only this time with all the memories of what he did wrong the first time. All he has to do is not interfere with anyone else's life. It sounds like a great deal, but living up to his end of the bargain turns out to be harder than Richie ever imagined.

If you had the chance, would you make the choice?

About the book:
    Richie flips hamburgers for a living and even though he is a great worker, one of the best, he can't get an assistant manager position. His boss doesn't find him management material. To top it off he lives with his parents and doesn't have a girlfriend. In short, he feels like a loser.
    Then into his life comes Jack Fates who gives him a 'do over' because life has been unkind to Richie. Going back 10 years, he gets to try to win his sweetheart, try to beat out the bully in school, and try for college once again. The only thing he must not do is tell anyone, make a profit on his future knowledge or interfere with anyone else's life. If he does, he will find himself right back in the future with no changes.
    As Richie drifts through school, he starts making small changes that end up to be big ones.  He changes his name from Richie to Rich, his eyewear from glasses to contacts, his study habit from okay to good. He asks his female friend out on a date because he wants to learn how to do it. Everything goes along well until he has to make a life or death decision, one that may forever trap him in his previous future life.

My take:
   The plot in Do Over was well constructed though it began to feel a bit like the movie Family Man. The rules Richie had to live under for what would be ten years seemed too strict for success. He does tell one person about his step back in time and gets a warning from Jack Fates that he is flirting with being returned to his old life. But the story never makes much about this break in the rules until much later in the book. What Richie must deal with is handling others' misfortunes. He is not to do anything that drastically changes the life of another but how to you stand by knowing...
    While the story itself was well executed, I didn't find the writing engaging or nor did I feel in touch with the characters. First, I think it is incredibly hard to write good stories, so I always marvel when someone does it perfectly and try not to be too hard when someone misses. It is too easy to say things like," I went to the movies with Jim. Mary came in at the last minute. She ate some of my popcorn." instead of drawing a picture of the scene. Too much of this book is told in this fashion. Seldom does the reader get to live inside the story. For me, I would have found it more fun to be part of the action.
     This is a short read and I believe young people will enjoy the plot, twists and all. The dilemma is one I think anyone could enjoy. For the mere price of 99 cents, less than a bottle of pop, you might want to take a chance on it. 

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