Description from Goodreads:
Race against the clock through a dystopian nightmare. Climb naked into an untested time machine (carrying only a seashell and a promise). Wake up twenty years younger on a tropical beach, buck naked and mortally wounded, with your heart in your throat.
This is a journey of love, loss, and redemption that will make your pulse gallop and your palms sweat, have you laughing out loud through your tears, and leave you flush with the sublime pleasure of falling in love.
Look, I simply did not like this book. I’ll admit that the editing seems fine. (I listened to the audio, so I wouldn’t know if there are a lot of copy edit mistakes, but it sounded structurally competent.) But the farther into it I got the more I hated it, until I simply had to force myself to finish it. I would literally dread pushing play, too afraid of what new shit way the book would find to piss me off. Yes, I’m serious with that attitude. I hated this book.
Before I get into why, let me pause and be positive about the narrators. They both did a marvelous job, Noah Michael Levine especially. Erin deWard did a good job too, but the choice to voice Isabel sounding so desperate all the time only exacerbated my problem with her. But that was a style choice, not a quality problem. The narration is good.
Now back to the negative. It’s all freakin’ negative from here and there will be SPOILERS. I’m going to start with the romance, or lack there of. Two people (ex lovers) accidentally run into each other after not seeing one other for 15 years. They go to dinner, have a fight (about their past), she walks out. There’s a bit of drama requiring him to rescue her from a burning building and he asks her to marry him before they get out. That’s the romance and we’re suppose to believe it’s the romance to end all romances. Meant to be and all that jazz.
Here’s my issue. First, it’s 100% unrealistic. Yes, this is fantasy/sci-fi, but people change a lot in 15 years and this isn’t addressed. Two, if it’s so perfect they wouldn’t have given it up so easily 15 years earlier and/or would have made contact before 15 years passed. And he apparently had her cell number the whole time. It didn’t change. (And don’t think I’m not seriously side-eyeing someone having the same cell phone number for 15 years. Anyone remember what cells were like in 2000?) Three, as a reader I felt cheated out of seeing them get to know each other and fall in love. I suspect Orton meant for the reader to feel this in the second time-line, but I 100% DID NOT. Because that was not romantic either. That was Isabel being incompetent and Diego being unbelievably sway-able.
Now let me move on to my big issue. Diego was lovely, too wonderful actually. But you can’t help but like him. Isabel however was cliched beyond belief. Let me tell you her role in this book (and this just off the top of my head). She almost dies saving a kitten (not even her kitten, just a random kitten) and has to be saved from being burned and crushed in a fire. She gets stabbed. She gets septic. She almost gets raped (and turns out to probably actually have a history of being raped). She essentially gets kidnapped by her ex-husband. She almost dies in a miscarriage and she gets sick and almost dies from traveling through dimensions. And I lost count of how many times she was either in debilitating pain or confused because she’s barely conscious. She was the perpetual victim. I hated her. Or rather I hated that Orton could come up with no better role for her than to be the victim that spurs Diego into action.
Their love is supposed to save the multi-verse. But Diego gets to go through to another world and retrieve a vaccine, bring it back and save millions. Isabel? She gets to travel through dimensions to teach Diego to be a better lover to her apparently unstable future self. How do I feel about that? Fuck you Orton. Isabel was supposed to be a smart scientist. She never does anything intelligent in the entire book. She’s too busy navel gazing and being cliche.
Speaking of science, it’s all hand waving. I actually think calling this science fiction is almost a stretch.
I find myself in a difficult position now. I think I won this audio book and I have the second book too. I feel obligated to listen to it. But considering how much I hated this one, I just don’t want to.
On an amusing side note, I had to call the fraud department of one of my charge cards this morning and the person I spoke to (Tomeo) had a lovely accent that sounded very much like how Noah voiced Diego. It was quite charming and made me smile.