Review: Seven Rules of Time Travel (Roy Huff)
Here it is! The cover reveal was nearly 5 months ago, and now I’ve finally finished reading the content!
I’d dare say that “The Seven Rules of Time Travel” doesn’t have a story line as much as it has a general thrum of many events, ideas and motivations between a good mix of characters! In some ways this makes the events played out in Seven Rules of Time Travel seem quite realistic; life isn’t always a simple linear play!
The novel starts with action surrounding a Groundhog Day-like approach to dealing with a bomb and the death of a friend. As the novel progresses, we touch on other drivers to move things forwards; a supernova, 9/11, USS Cole and at one point Bin Laden adds a ‘religious’ element.
You can see that there’s quite a mix!
The main character is Quinn. His best friend Jeremy mentions a few rules of time travel early in the novel; you can’t stop everything, you can’t control human nature, and you can’t be in two places at the same time.
These rules were shown, then told. It was done subtly and I was looking forward to reading how the other 4 rules would be revealed. Unfortunately the seven rules were simply blurted out together during a conversation later in the novel. It’s only a small point, but given the title of the novel I was hoping for more and felt let down.
Although this is the first book in a series, I think it’s stand-alone in the sense that there aren’t loose ends straggling around at the end. In this sense I was relieved that the ending wasn’t the obvious cheesy option, but indeed there are lots of hooks ripe for the picking to take forward into Book 2.
I really like how author Roy Huff employs a variety of writing ‘tricks’ to tell his story! He’s clearly researched many time travel movies and books and although at times it got a little repetitive (“Remember when this happened in…” etc.) it did keep the content on track.
One ‘feature’ I liked was a character called Sam who uses the personal pronouns of “they”, “them” and “their”. Sam climbed with their arms, etc.. It was comical for me to read, but I suppose this is (becoming?) the new norm.
Aside: If I don’t change with the times, does that make me a time traveler, or an old fuddy duddy? (And by “I”, I mean I, he, him, his, oi mate, dude bucket.)
Something I struggled with is that the story gets going when Quinn goes back in time to his childhood. This means that the characters are mostly children who are mostly concerned with childish things. The novel took on the feel of a YA novel.
This changes slightly as the story progresses – Quinn is of course an adult in a child’s body, and later this becomes apparent and people start treating him this way. There’s a nice conversation to this effect between Quinn and his father.
Actually it works both ways; Quinn is conscious that although his body suggests otherwise, he’s much older than the people he’s with. Later he considers more deeply the effect of “redos” (repeating time), writes a journal to tame his emotions and holds back on ‘cross-time’ romantic endeavours.
The second and last point where I struggled is where dialogue is used to explain the science behind phenomena, or to move the plot forwards. It was particularly bad early on because it was a bunch of kids talking things out (see point above); later it was less childish, but more lengthy as there was more detail between adults.
Most crucial is that the explanatory dialogue often ran in the middle of an action scene which made it on the whole, very unrealistic.
However, I think the writing itself flows very nicely. A couple of lines I liked:
“The mind is like the apple in the Garden of Eden. You can never go back.”
(Although I’ll refer you to Bonnie Rozanski’s The Mind traveler – one of the first books I reviewed, and highly recommended!)
“…his New York accent bleeding through.”
Time Travel Aspect
Quinn’s time travel mechanism is relatively simple; he thinks about a particular day and he wakes up there.
Actually, that’s more the time machine; the engine under the hood comprises the neutrinos from a supernova that interact with a dark matter device to cause a time loop.
How’s that for an original idea?! 🙂
When Quinn first time travels, he does so by a few hours. I could accept this without too much further thought. But when he went back in time to being a 9th grade kid my mind whirled.
Where did the ‘original’ 9th grader go? What happens to him when the adult version goes back to the future?
And what about the other characters who remain behind? Do they carry on living forwards, or are they erased? Since Quinn acts differently in each loop with different consequences, there’s a suggestion of different time lines.
(Note that I should get some points here, because variants of the same questions were asked on page 237 and was described as “novel”! 😉
Actually, this shows that Roy thought well about the ‘holes’ and inferred questions in his novel!
I must admit that I got a bit lost in the details (recall that they’re buried under mountains of dialogue), but the general explanation is one of time lines and branches within the multiverse. There’s no destruction or creation – ‘just’ travel between them.
Each time line can only have one time traveler, and things like 9/11 get reset when the time traveler leaves it. In which case, it’s likely that the time line goes on without the time traveler afterwards.
However, this seems to go against the idea that by deciding to have a “do-over day” Quinn chooses which branch survives or not. As I said, I’m sure I’ve missed something in this evolving theory.
One final question about time travelling – how do you prove you’re from the future? Tough, maybe. Quinn found it difficult to prove it to his school friends too!
A couple of final points to finish off with:
The Butterfly Effect is a well known and over-used term in time travel circles, but I really like how Roy Huff explained and applies it in this novel. Keep an eye out for it! And I love Roy’s explanation of how infinite universes already exist because otherwise the law of conservation of matter would be violated.
Galaxy Ratings * * * *
The dialogue as delivery made it difficult for me to fully follow the time travel mechanics, but from what I did understand, I have full confidence that the time travel aspect is solid!
Story line * * *
Writing style * * *
Time travel element * * * * *
Scientific content * * * * *
(Note that 1 * doesn’t mean crap, it means not much! 😉 )
PS: Author Roy Huff wrote a guest post Time Dilation as a Trope which is well worth a read!
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