Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Book Review: How To Stop Time

My latest book review is a about a man who is lost in time. Unable to relax, be his true self or love, he is stuck at a crossroads. What to do with his life, where to go. A lifetime is incredibly long for some people. Matt Haig is a bestselling author, which can mean each novel is an absolute hit, or some are not as good. This is the first novel of his that I’ve read, but many people that I work with rave about his writing style and I have to say, this novel is beautifully constructed. Playing with time is always a little risky; it can be done very well or very badly, but Haig has flawlessly composed the idea of time being endless with a perfect juxtaposition of using a variety of characters and situations to show how life can disappear just as easily as it appears. The main character, Tom, is a sensitive soul but easily manipulated. Due to his condition, his life is controlled by a society and he decides to move back to London and essentially begin again. He’s definitely brave, choosing to work as a History teacher in an East London school, something which he struggles with at times. History is at the heart of this novel, not only through his teaching.

It’s not the longest book in the world, nor the shortest, but as you read through the pages it is definitely a pageturner; each chapter beginning with a date and a place as a means of understanding where the novel is going or describing. The way that the novel describes human nature, how we choose to live, die and everything in between is so perfectly structured to represent reality that it’s easy to forget that this book is fiction. The relationship between Tom and the reader becomes quite intimate as he explains how he has loved and lost throughout the stages of his life, as well as how his life and the world around him has developed. One of the parts of this book that makes him seem both sensitive and vulnerable; his desperation to find his daughter is a main feature of his emotions throughout, hoping upon hope that one day, he will find her and rekindle their once close relationship. In terms of content, it’s definitely a mix of traditional fiction and science fiction; I love the journey through different countries, times and cultures that Haig carried (the reader) through, with references to Shakespeare, Captain Cook and Fitzgerald amongst many others, which only added to notion that time can be elongated for some people.

The introduction and explanation of ‘the society’ is also interesting; the idea that you’re in control yet also not in control of your life at all is scary, but incredibly relatable. There’s something slightly sinister about it, but it’s never fully revealed until the last moment, which was an excellent twist. The novel covers a lot of topics, including mental health, death, birth, love, individuality and so many others, constantly changing depending on the time frame that is being described. There are a lot of developed characters in the novel, of different ages, genders and cultures, but all of the, worth seamlessly together to blend into the story to make a whole. This novel is one that makes you question your own life; the risks that you take, the decisions that you make and how much or little you have done in your life. I liked how the story took shape in two parts; Tom’s past and Tom’s present; it was a fantastic way to understand how his mind worked, how his thoughts merged together somewhat incoherently to provide the reader with an explanation of why he makes such terrible decisions. Tom has a desire to be the perfect person and his perfectionism is what makes his life so difficult.

Overall, this book is an incredible read. Yes, it is a bit ‘out there’ and is fairly wacky but I absolutely loved the concept. I loved the idea that someone is different and struggles with being so. It’s so very human, whilst having an edge on what is seen as living regular humanity. It’s hard to say what genre this novel belongs to, as it is a bit of an unusual one, but actually I enjoyed every minute; the writing style was great, having the chapters laid out my time and place and switching between the past and present, it was easy to follow regardless of that. I’m a massive fan of multiple storylines (in this case, laid out in different timeframes) when it is done well and this definitely was. As a reader, you don’t feel swamped by information, the information is presented delicately throughout until all of the pieces start to fit together effortlessly. However, the key to finding yourself completely and utterly in love with this novel is to read it with no expectations and simply enjoy it for the sake of enjoying it. Yes, there are elements to the book that are unbelievable, but realisitically this is fiction and Haig can entertain however he chooses. Reading this book was an absolute pleasure and it’s one that I’ll definitely end up re-reading one day as it’s so, so unexplainably incredible. It’s such a beautiful read that it’s hard to put it into words.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Back To Top
Designed By Hello Manhattan