The first thing I thought when I was offered the chance to read Two Worlds Collided was that the cover looked a bit soppy – this was going to be more of a slushy romance than time travel. But (pre)judging a book by its cover would be crazy.
So I delved around a bit to see if this was going to be worth a read. Author Karen Michelle Nutt has a “research sites” page on her website where I was happy to see a link to time2time travel (thanks Karen! 🙂 ) and a few reposted links from my interesting links page, so of course this was looking good so far. But I was akso interested to read that Karen and her daughter Katrina Gillian create pre-made book covers (see their website at Judge Your Book by its Cover! 😉 )
Well, let’s just give a shot, shall we? Besides, with an e-book no-one can see what I’m reading!
Evie goes back in time to change history – namely to stop rock star Bellamy from killing himself. Whilst there, seeds of romance are planted.
Is it time travel?
Spend some time online and it won’t take you too long to discover that there’s a bit of a debate as to what makes a time travel novel. Does it only need to span (at least) 2 time periods? Or does it need to have a time machine (maybe with an in-depth instruction manual complete with theory)? Or some other time travel mechanism?
Shakespeare once asked “What’s in a name?”, and if I can paraphrase, he questioned whether it’s worth defining a genre within a novel because however you define it, the novel is what it is, right?
Personally I believe that simply having time travel in a novel doesn’t make it a time travel novel – just the same way that having a car in a novel doesn’t make it a travel novel.
Two Worlds Collided puts a character in the past, and this is where / when the novel takes off. Ultimately the novel is set in the past, and the present (with a rushed recount of what happened in between) is the drawn out (and perhaps contrived) happy ever after bit. For the most part the entire novel could have been written ‘conventionally” without time travel at all – although there are some interesting time travel issues introduced towards the end 🙂
Irrespective of how Shakespeare – or we – would (bother to) define this novel, I’m going to tease out the time travel aspects and separate it from the love story which motivates it.
Time travel element
I’ve never read this time travel mechanism before: since time travel needs blood (“blood is the essence of all life”) the time traveler must stand in a circle of chicken blood (human blood would of course be crazy!). Next we need an anchor which can be a physical object like a necklace (outward trip) or friends (return trip) and then some voodoo chanting which includes mumbling about “space-time and special relativity and other words she cant pronounce”. (I think that’s the science bit 😉 )
Aside: Here I need to credit Steven Burgauer (author of The Grandfather Paradox) where I learned of “Clarke’s Third Law” which I think may be applicable here:
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
As far as time travel methodologies go, I can’t help thinking this is pure nonsense, but in its defense this is fiction not science fiction so anything goes! 😉
The time traveller goes back in time and merges into the body of their previous self whilst their previous mind goes into limbo. This reminded me The Mind Traveller by Bonnie Rozanski and the movie Click with Adam Sandler.
Mention the future, and the time traveller snaps back to the present. (Although making ‘predictions’ about the future under the guise of palm reading doesn’t count). That said, Evie manages to get back to the present by getting on an aeroplane (recall Stephen King’s novella The Langoliers)- though this may have been timed with her ‘work’ being done.
A few welcome time travel issues are touched on at the close of the novel. One of them is that the changes in the past take time to ripple forwards and come into effect in the present. I love this idea! It reminds me of the Sound of Thunder movie (see this link to read my thoughts on time waves) – and it also explains nicely how, by saving Bellamy’s life, Evie has now lived a different history than previously. (In fact, a lot of history is rewritten – and written in as narrative in the closing pages.)
Actually, rewriting history isn’t strictly correct. The time travel premise works on timelines where events in the past cause a fork. This has two consequences but only the first is alluded to in the novel which is that Evie can’t go back to same event twice. It’s a self-imposed restriction – Evie can’t try again a second time if she makes a mistake. So kudos to Karen for incorporating this aspect which undoubtedly made Evie’s mission more difficult to attain!
But the second consequence is that if there’s a fork there’s a splitting of the time line. In other words it’s not a rewriting, but an additional ‘writing’ alongside the original – so there’s still a version of Bellamy kicking around destined for a short end in a universe following an alternate time line.
Or not? Is ‘forking’ more like a redirection which still maintains a single time line? But then the grandfather paradox applies – Evie’s reason for going back in time (Bellamy’s suicide) no longer holds, so she doesn’t (didn’t) go back in time, so Bellamy does die and Evie’s motivated to go back in time to remove her motivation…
These thoughts make it interesting, right?!
I’ll touch here briefly on the non-time travel aspects of Two Worlds Collided – but with the caveat that despite the time travel aspects as above I wouldn’t say that I fall in the target audience (which I’m hazarding a guess that it’s geared towards female readers.)
In many time travel romances there’s an element of attraction due to large cultural differences due to differing root times of the two parties involved. With a span of only a few years here, this doesn’t happen in Two Worlds Collided. Evie and Blellamy could be any random couple thrown together for whatever reason. For this reason I first thought that the romance side of things was weak, but in real non time travel / soap-opera / Hollywood life relationships build more slowly, so this might be spot on.
One thing which I did find missing (though I again point out that I’m not necessarily tuned into these kinds of things) is that I didn’t get the feeling that Bellamy was suicidal, other than a couple of comments that he blamed himself for his father’s death and got depressed. And this meant that I didn’t pick up how he needed rescuing by Evie. That said, this angle is probably more for the (weak) time travel motivation which could have been written out, and serves more for the back cover blurb than the main stuff, er, within the covers.
Karen writes well – a huge relief given the subject matter!
As we’ve discussed, time travel is used pretty much as a scene setter; not much knowledge from the future is taken to the past. This is also compounded as the amount of time traveled is short so there’s little juxtapositioning of feelings or advance knowledge from another time.
There are reams of pages with nothing much in particular going on – choosing dresses, random small talk, hair cuts and styling etc.. I guess this might make it good for a holiday read as there’s not much for the brain to mull over. Personally I found it a little difficult to concentrate because the main story line was rather fuzzy – but I guess this is how life really is!
Bellamy has the pre-requisite weakness for a hero / villain; in this case he can’t smell or taste. Evie is the exception (I’ll let you read why! 😉 )
I’d imagine that readers expecting a romance novel will be surprised with the time travel.
Conversely, those expecting more heavy duty time travel will be a little frustrated with the slush – the closing text relating to events occurring after Evie’s changes and running up to the present was very much concerned with fashion from the sixties to the nineties. Indeed, one of the chief consequences of going back into the past and making changes was that Evie got to sport a new hairstyle.
But I think it’s important to remember that Two Worlds Collided probably doesn’t set out to be a time travel novel – rather a quirky romance novel with something a little different (time travel) added to make it interesting!