Friday, October 2, 2009

Guest Review: The Time Traveler's Wife

Please help me welcome my very first guest reviewer, my almost 15 year old daughter Abby. :) She's a voracious reader who averages about 3 books a week. She began reading at an early age and has now been reading for well over a decade. Some of her favorite authors are Garth Nix, Madeleine L'Engle and Mercedes Lackey. I have been asking her to do a guest review for months. I've tried simply asking bugging, gentle persuasion threatening, offering a token of my appreciation bribery but nothing worked.

I was shocked when she told me that she had written a review and if I wanted to I could post it on the blog. The majority of her reading is Young Adult so I was expecting a YA review. I don't read much YA so I thought it would be nice to have some YA reviews. But in typical teenager fashion she gives me a review not for a YA novel but for an adult romance. She had to read it and write the review for her English class so this probably isn't going to happen often. :) I haven't read The Time Traveler's Wife yet, it's on my TBR pile but I will get to it. Enjoy!

Title: The Time Traveler's Wife
Author: Audrey Niffenegger
Genre: Time Travel Romance
Published: July 2004

From the back cover ~

A most untraditional love story, this is the celebrated tale of Henry DeTamble, a dashing, adventuresome librarian who involuntarily travels through time, and Clare Abshire, an artist whose life takes a natural sequential course. Henry and Clare’s passionate affair endures across a sea of time and captures them in an impossibly romantic trap that tests the strength of fate and basks in the bonds of love.

Usually, movies are major book-reading turnoffs for me. And romances aren’t really my thing, either. I hadn’t even heard of Time Traveler’s Wife until after the movie came out, and I was rather skeptical at first, but I wound up devouring the entire book over the course of a weekend.

There’s really no genre for this book: it’s that fantastically unique. It could, perhaps, be called a ‘sci-fi romance’. It’s almost a paranormal romance, except for the fact that there is a scientific explanation for Henry’s condition – another thing that makes this book incredibly unique. Traditionally, the ability to time travel is discovered / created somewhere in the future (along with flying cars and the Fountain of Youth) and used via machines to aggrandize the knowledge of the scientific community / humankind as a whole by viewing events in the past for better understanding, and / or altering the course of History Itself to make life better.

. . . What.

I won’t even begin on how little sense that makes, instead turning to an explanation of the time travel that occurs within Time Traveler’s Wife. Henry has only marginal control over when he travels; it usually occurs when he is stressed, so keeping himself calm does help, but it doesn’t stop him from travelling. He has no choice over the location he’ll go to, or the time at which he arrives, or when he goes back; and he can’t interfere in the path of History Itself.

And all the while, poor Clare is left in the Present (or her present, at least), waiting for Henry, worrying, wondering. Unlike her husband, Clare is a completely normal person, who does not time-travel at random and therefore does not generally run the risk of dying in a foreign time and place. She loves Henry, despite probably sometimes thinking he’s an idiot for taking so many risks, and is willing to wait for him for incredibly long periods of time – multiple decades in one case.

The bond the two share – stretching from Clare’s childhood at age six, all the way until their deaths, despite the time-travelling – is incredibly touching, in a way I can’t quite put into words. Maybe it’s just the fact that Niffenegger’s writing is so convincing – there’s a very “this could be happening to someone I know” feel. It’s real. And that’s what makes it so entrancing.

Rating: A


  1. Great review, Abby! This is one of those books I've had on my list of books to read and just never seem to get to.

    I'd like to read the book before I watch the movie. I do wonder if the movie lived up to expectations. :)

  2. Very nice review Abby! This is such a difficult book to "sum up" and you did an amazing job!

    This is one of my all time fav books - it is romantic yet filled with such horrorful moments.

    And the end..when Clare is 80...*sobs*

    BTW - 3 books a week? You go! Madeleine L'Engle is one of my favorite authors too:)

  3. Abby's at school today, then football game tonight, then tomorrow is a marching band festival so she won't be online much but I'll make sure she reads the comments. :)

    Hils ~ After seeing the movie clips it looks good but... I too would rather read the book first. :)

    Mandi ~ I have a feeling I'll need tissues for this book. ;)

  4. Wonderful review! I loved this book and agree with Mandi that it's a hard book to sum up, but you did it well. Did you see the movie?

  5. Awesome review. I haven't read the book but I have seen the movie. Being a romance reader, I can't completely love it because it doesn't have the ending that I crave. I do plan to read the book but since I cried even after coming home from the movie, I think I'll have to wait a bit (found out the next day I was pregnant which explained the uncontrolled crying).

  6. Excellent review Abby. I haven't read this one, but your review makes me want to give it a try :-)
    I hope you come back and do some more.

  7. Great review Abby :D Very well-written and put together :D Did you see the movie? If yes, what did you think of it?

    Leslie - you're sure she's only almost 15y.o.? :P

    I've never heard of this book either before the movie. I know that both Ames and Monroe loved it... but I don't know... it's a big book and not totally my genre... so it becomes daunting ^_^;

  8. Hello everyone! This is Abby - I'm not too sure what I'm doing with the comment system here, having never used it before, but there don't seem to be any Reply buttons or anything . . .

    Firstly - thank you all!;; Somehow it totally slipped my mind that there was a possibility of commenters, but you're all really kind. >A<;;

    @Hilcia - I have yet to see the movie, but I really do want to, if only to compare and contrast. Try and make time for the book at some point, it's definitely worth it! <3

    @Mandi - All the foreshadowing of what happens to Henry in the end in particular . . . and his feet! I wanted to cry so often while reading . . .
    Just yesterday I managed to finish a whole book and start on a second without meaning to, actually.;;; Totally lost track of time, but it was a wonderful few hours!

    @Patti - Not yet, but I want to go see it soon! Maybe over the long weekend (we've got this Friday and next Monday off from school) if I have time.

    @Mina - While I'm not a romance reader, I was a little less fond of the end than the rest too . . . mostly from childish annoyance that was mostly along the line of "that's not fair to Clare at all!", but still.
    Congratulations, by the way! <3 I'll remember to ask and keep updated.

    @Kristie - Oh, believe me, I will. It took months (and a school project) for my mom to get this much out of me - I very much doubt she's going to leave me alone now!

    @nath - Not yet, but I'm going to try to go see it soon!;;; Supposedly it's not half-bad, so. Can't hurt to go see it, right?
    And it might be a long book, but it's not a slow one - there's so much mystery about it that it's really hard to stop oneself from continuing, trying to figure out what it is that's going on that we're not being told . . .