Despite how it’s being pitched, this book IS NOT science fiction. Publishers take note: just because a book’s plot may contain events that couldn’t happen in our current universe as we know it doesn’t mean it’s an automatic candidate for the sci-fi shelf. In order to be sci-fi, there has to be some kind of explanation or exploration of the phenomenon being addressed (in this case, time travel). Simply having a character fall into a wormhole in his closet and following it up with a paragraph in which the character’s friend casually plugs in a couple laptops and writes a software program mysteriously able to harness and direct the time-transporting powers of the wormhole is not a sufficient explanation for the seasoned sci-fi crowd.
(To prove the point, I read this section of the novel aloud to Adam, and he finally covered his ears and begged me not to read any more. As a trained software engineer, one of his pet peeves is when people treat technology as if it’s magic. It’s not. It’s science, and it works because someone made it work, no wands or spells required.)
So yeah, if you’re a hard science fiction fan, Daviau’s playing fast and very, very loose with the laws of physics may drive you a bit bonkers. But if you, like me, are more of a lit-fic enthusiast, someone who can swallow her disbelief to get to the chewy romantic center at the heart of this novel, then you should be just fine.
I really enjoyed the halting but sweet romance between forty-year-old bumbling bartender Karl and nerdy, damaged astrophysicist Lena. Just like on The Big Bang Theory, the story gets a whole lot better once the female character has a turn at the wheel. Lena’s character arc brought up a lot of deep, philosophical questions: about what I would change about my past if I could, and just how much those things have made me who I am. There’s also a lot of talk of ‘90s indie rock bands, but I’m proof that you don’t have to recognize a single band name to have a wacky good time with this book. The “bands” I was personally fond of in the ‘90s were more practiced with hair gel than musical instruments, if you know what I mean.
With regards to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the advance copy. On sale 9 February 2016.