The Tunnel is Book 1 of 6 in Josh Anderson’s Time of Death series and is geared towards Young Adults.
The Tunnel follows Kyle, a high schooler who gets high with a friend and causes a collision with a school bus in a drink / drug road accident. All 12 children and the driver (plus his friend) are killed. Kyle’s presented with a chance to go back in time and fix things and the novel deals with how he goes about it.
I have zero tolerance for drink / drug driving so I immediately disliked Kyle and his idiot friend. But I soon warmed up to him; he’s genuinely sorry for what he did and becomes obsessed with the victims of his earlier stupidity. This is an important point – I find it much easier to read first person books when I can identify with the first person. Kyle is smart and flexible, and I was happy to read about his mission to put his past mistake right.
Kyle winds up in jail and becomes friends with his cell mate Ochoa, a guy who’s the complete opposite of Kyle. As Kyle points out, Ochoa looks after him inside; outside it’s the other way around, and this is where we see a side of Kyle who is able to think things through and give the reader a further insight into the consequences of historical actions.
Time Travel…with a silk blot!
Kyle is contacted and told that he can time travel if he has the genetic predisposition for it. He’s also warned about the butterfly effect (which was explained very nicely) and cautioned that time resists change. This means that the new time that he travels to is not welcoming and will seek to push him out.
I thought that this last point was superb, reminding me a little of the Final Destination movies where nature detects ‘anomalies’ and seeks to remove them.
Time travel is possible via a silk blot. I had no idea what a silk blot was, so I googled it and the first hit was some sort of World of Warcraft weapon called a “bolt of silk” (notice typo)! Anyway, further reading in the novel made it clear that it’s a silk scarf thing. Certainly not so deadly, but much more likely to help you against catching your death of cold. Good job Kyle knew what to expect when a silk blot turned up in his jail cell!
Now that’s an original time machine! The silk blot serves as an entrance (or exit) to a tunnel – complete with ladder and rungs marking the year – which allows exit at a chosen temporal location. Kyle is easily able to make the trip from 2016 back to 1998, whereas Ochoa – who sees a way out of jail and follows Kyle – found it physically exhausting, the implication being that he wasn’t genetically disposed to time travel.
Note that 1998 isn’t when the bus accident happened; it’s earlier. Kyle’s opportunity to change history is more involved than what we might initially think would be the obvious solution.
Despite the warnings, one of them meets themselves and suffers the consequences – a nice (though graphic) nod to the biolocation paradox in time travel, where meeting yourself can cause problems.
We don’t follow Kyle back to the present 2016 but to 2014 when the accident happened to see how the ‘new’ history plays out. At first I thought this was a a bit strange and a cheat (because it’s simply rewriting what has already happened without acknowledgment of what happened the first time around), but actually it struck me that this was really good – often we just read that history was different, but here we’re immersed in it (again).
Back in 2016, parts where history changes are a confusion to Kyle’s eidetic memory which plays up a little and gets fuzzy in places. I thought that using eidetic memory as a tool for comparison between histories was another great idea!
Time of Death
What makes The Tunnel especially interesting is the number of threads and open questions which run through it. Within the novel some are addressed quite quickly, others are more long term before they get resolved. But as I could sense the end of the novel approaching I was facing a rising panic that everything would be resolved in a rushed manner and spewed out.
Thankfully there was no spew, but in its place was the dreaded “TO BE CONTINUED…” 🙁
So the novel died. Completely. Time of death: Page 216. Resuscitation in Book 2.
I really enjoyed The Tunnel – lots of threads to follow and a main character who meets and interacts with other interesting characters, so to stop and plug Book 2 is a huge let down. It drives me insane; it’s only a short novel and with no closure I feel cheated. I’d suggest it should be a Part 1 not a Book 1.
Self incompleteness is my only negative comment – but otherwise it’s excellent!
Rating * * * *
If it wasn’t for the early death of the novel, The Tunnel would have got 5 stars. Indeed, perhaps I should be reviewing the book not as a stand alone novel, but indeed as a Book 1; how does it set the scene for Book 2? Am I eager enough to read the next book in the series? etc.. But I’m not sure. I suppose I could only read and review in such a way in retrospect after reading the entire series, and ultimately I guess that’s the way The Tunnel has been written.
Judging from this book, I’m sure that the Time of Death series will continue onwards to the full 5 stars!
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Disclaimer: A copy of “The Tunnel” was emailed to me free of charge to read and provide an honest opinion. This is it!
| 5* Excellent! | 4* Good | 3* OK | 2* Not good | 1* Crud |