5 Stars, Book review, Historical fiction, Ian Mortimer, Sci-Fi

Bee Reviews: The Outcasts of Time by Ian Mortimer

theoutcastsoftime coverFormat: Kindle edition

Publication: 15th June 2017 by Simon & Schuster UK

Genres: Historical fiction, Sci-Fi

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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Synopsis

December 1348. With the country in the grip of the Black Death, brothers John and William fear that they will shortly die and go to Hell. But as the end draws near, they are given an unexpected choice: either to go home and spend their last six days in their familiar world, or to search for salvation across the forthcoming centuries – living each one of their remaining days ninety-nine years after the last.

John and William choose the future and find themselves in 1447, ignorant of almost everything going on around them. The year 1546 brings no more comfort, and 1645 challenges them still further. It is not just that technology is changing: things they have taken for granted all their lives prove to be short-lived.

As they find themselves in stranger and stranger times, the reader travels with them, seeing the world through their eyes as it shifts through disease, progress, enlightenment and war. But their time is running out – can they do something to redeem themselves before the six days are up?


Review

A copy of this novel was given in exchange for an honest review.

This is by far the most quotable novel I have ever read. Mortimer is definitely one of the most skilled writers of our time, in language and through his imagination. His ability to manipulate the reader to feel exactly how he wants them to feel is to be admired.

To hate yourself is to squander the privilege of being alive.

So this poignant story follows two men faced with purgatory if, in the next six days of their lives, they’re unable to perform a pure good deed. The trick is, for each of the six days they live, they’ll be ninety-nine years in the future. Aside from the barrier this presents in terms of language, fashion and technology, good deeds somehow become harder to achieve through the centuries.

There’s so much beauty in the world, don’t close your eyes to it just because you’ve lost your own small patch of happiness.

This is an excellent piece of historical fiction that highlights the changes, both small and substantial, that have taken place over the last few centuries. Funny and factual, I would definitely recommend this novel to people who enjoy reading historical fiction.

People need a common enemy. War is one of those things that binds us together. You could say that men need someone to oppose – otherwise we start fighting among ourselves.

Another dimension of this novel is that it is highly philosophical. John and William together embrace the prospect of dying while pondering the existence of humanity. I feel as though this dimension of the novel should have a whole genre of its own, a “books that make you think” genre, because that would suit this novel perfectly. Rarely do I come across a book that I read, and I feel a changed person afterwards. This is one of those books.

I finally understand the beautiful secret of dying. It is that one may, at last, escape the tyranny of time.

I’m exceptionally impressed by what a good read this book turned out to be and I hope to explore more of Mortimer’s work because if it’s anything like this novel, I’m sure it’ll turn out to be a great read.

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2 Stars, Book review, Sci-Fi

Bee Reviews: September Sky by John A Heldt

 

september skyFormat: Kindle edition, 412 pages

Published: January 1st 2015 by John A Heldt

Genre(s): Sci-Fi

Rating:  ★ ★

Goodreads | Amazon


Synopsis

When unemployed San Francisco reporter Chuck Townsend and his college-dropout son, Justin, take a cruise to Mexico in 2016, each hopes to rebuild a relationship after years of estrangement. But they find more than common ground aboard the ship. They meet a mysterious lecturer who touts the possibilities of time travel. Within days, Chuck and Justin find themselves in 1900, riding a train to Texas, intent on preventing a distant uncle from being hanged for a crime he did not commit. Their quick trip to Galveston, however, becomes long and complicated when they wrangle with business rivals and fall for two beautiful librarians on the eve of a hurricane that will destroy the city. Filled with humor, history, romance, and heartbreak, September Sky follows two directionless souls on the adventure of a lifetime as they try to make peace with the past, find new purpose, and grapple with the knowledge of things to come.


Review

A copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review.

I would like to preface this by saying that perhaps I wasn’t the best candidate for reading this novel. My review could potentially be biased as I don’t often read books of this genre, so maybe I’m not as appreciative of Heldt’s writing as much as someone else would be.

Let’s start with the positives. This novel is certainly the work of creativity unparalleled in a field where there is an abundance of recycled plots and ideas. It’s very refreshing being presented with Chuck and Justin’s antics, and this novel certainly challenged my perception of the world, both in terms of historical contexts and modern day too. Heldt has a lot of potential as an author to expand on his ideas and take them to the next level. But there were also some points to consider for the next novel Heldt writes.

This novel doesn’t really start until a quarter of the way through. I wouldn’t recommend this novel to someone with pea-sized patience like myself. The other thing that really bugged me was the characters. I didn’t really have much of a problem with Justin, but Chuck somehow felt too wooden to me. In spite of the novel practically surrounding him, with his perspectives, his history (both recent and ancestral), Chuck never came to life for me. For me, this was the most off-putting thing. Whether this is down to the writing or how the story turned out, it’s difficult to ascertain. But this novel remains a strong indication of Heldt’s superb writing abilities!