WARNING: This review contains spoilers.
I got this book because it was about time travel, and time travel and different perspectives on the possibilities of time travel have always fascinated me.
I really liked the way this novel dealt with time travel also. The plot seemed well woven. The characters were likable and interesting. The dilemmas they faced were intriguing. And although I realized before the main character which reality was the true reality and had spawned the other reality, I didn’t manage to discern the truth behind the incessant, ‘you’ve been here’ ‘you’ve seen this before’ until the main character realized it himself.
All in all, I felt it was well written and I enjoyed this particular take on time travel.
That praise aside, I take exception to the author’s way of resolving the endless time loop that his story created. It reduces this epic exploration into the nature of the universe and time travel and history and quantum physics to something like a metaphor: One man’s struggle to tell a woman that he loves her. Because of course, professing his love for her is what saves the universe.
Because of course, loving one person is more important than anything else in the world, and being able to express that means that it will work out well, and is the answer to everything.
I feel this is symptomatic of the unrealistic expectation that society and the media impress upon us from a very young age: Finding one person to love is the most important thing. If you can’t do it, you’ve failed. If you can’t love and be loved in this specific romantic idealistic way, you’re a failure. If you don’t find this to be the most important thing in the world, you’re also a failure.
It also once again focuses on the small percentage of people for whom, when they express their feelings, have them returned immediately in the same measure. Because, you know, that’s a super-accurate notion of reality. Just another way to make everyone for whom this doesn’t happen feel inferior and like failures.
For all that I loved the story itself, and the way that it explored the concepts involved, when I finished the book I felt disgusted. Love saves the day. Because without romantic love, we’re all failures and the world ends.
I really feel the author could have come up with a more original solution to the paradoxes created by the story. One that didn’t feed so much into the mainstream media’s idea that everyone has to find someone of the opposite sex to love and be loved by or else life is meaningless. It’s a theme I’m really tired of seeing.
Book source: The Prodigal Hour