The Time Traveler's Wife
By: Audrey Niffenegger

Quick-take: Interesting take on time traveling.

Dan's Review

Henry DeTamble is traveling through time. This plot mechanic has been done many times before. However, in this quirk, his traveling is unctrollable. It is a bit like Quantum Leap. He physically and suddenly moves through space and time in a non-linear way. He will then suddenly snap back to the present.

Henry's main point of contact through most of his "travels" is Clare, for whom time passes normally. In Henry's perpsective, their meetings are all over time. In Clare's perspective, they met when she was a young child, and they continue meeting randomly with Henry's age varying. Clare eventually meets and marries Henry in real time, thus becoming The Time Traveler's Wife.

The novel is part love story and part sci-fi. Each part has something interesting to give. The time quirk with Henry is done well. I don't think I've seen uncontrolled time travel done before, and the book explores interesting questions about free will. Is Henry able to change the past? Or even the future? The book makes the case that the only free will happens in current time. The book does a good job of connecting future events so the past is correct.

Clare is nowhere near as interesting. While Henry is juggling deep existential issues, Clare basically has just one thought in her head: Henry. Every day, all day, it is "Henry, Henry, Henry". Her entire childhood and adolesense is spent waiting between Henry's time arrivals. 2/3 into the book, Clare was finally given a couple other things to think about (a child, and her art). Those still end up being a fairly small slice of her mental energy compared to what is dedicated to Henry.

Score: 4/5. Despite my complaints, it is an interesting story. I also appreciate books that try something different. The reason this one isn't a 5, is the book seemed to have a lot of plot detours that served little purpose.

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