Review: Lost Time and Dead Time (D. L. Orton)

“Dead Time” and “Lost Time” are different flavours to the dish that is served in Book 1, “Crossing in Time”. Beautifully written with parallel worlds, time travel and Deb’s usual dose of good quality humour!

Lost Time and Dead Time are Books 2 and 3 of DL Orton’s Between Two Evils series.

Lost Time by DL Orton

I’ve already read and reviewed the first book (Crossing in Time) which I thought had some “juicy time travel and gadgetry”

I’m going to review Books 2 and 3 together for 2 reasons – firstly that the first (i.e. second book in the series!) is short, and second, that when it stops the next book picks right up straight where it left off (so in this respect I’d suggest that you only read Lost Time if you have Dead Time ready and waiting for your reading pleasure straight afterwards).

Initial impressions

Lost Time is only 200 pages – much shorter than its predecessor which weighed in at 385 pages. This at first struck me as a good thing – first because I’ve got an ebook (never as good as paper!), but mostly because I was disappointed with the ‘padding’ in the second half of Book 1 and a shorter novel indicates a potential stripping of the fluff. (That said, I’d encourage you to read Deb’s response in the comments in the comments under the original review.)

Dead Time (DL Orton)

I finished my review of Crossing in Time with the comment that judging it was like judging a meal by the way the waitress walks when she brings you the starter. These latter two additions to the series are like the meal which is served on the table next to you in the same high quality restaurant!

Bang bang! Straight away we’re reminded that author D. L. Orton is well read in scifi with a couple of quotes and references to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Space Odyssey – and is able to bring it even when you have a naked man stuck up a tree!

There was also some talk about a shell. I recall a little about this from the previous book, but it was a while since I read it and I wasn’t fully up to speed. I felt that I needed to go back and check, but at the same time by not doing so I was able to share in Diego’s confusion. In fact at one point he even wonders whether his ‘previous’ life in another universe (from Crossing in Time) was a figment of his imagination; a feeling which I could identify with given how long ago I read that novel. Indeed, I must admit that I had some troubles in remembering what ‘the normal’ universe constituted!

Initially I didn’t like Diego. Fair enough, he was found naked and dangling in a tree, but he wallows in self pity – a real grate on my nerves because he’s surrounded by people (at the beginning) who are so delightful. In these sections I felt much more connected to these secondary characters – and was pleased that as in Book 1, chapters are written in first person from the viewpoint not just of the main character, but also of the others (maybe that ‘upgrades’ them from “secondary” characters…?)

The angle

Where Crossing in Time deals a lot with red tape in science, Lost Time and Dead Time are more about family relationships. There are parenting issues as well relations between siblings and coming of age. At one stage there seems to be some new sort of lingo introduced where I wasn’t sure if it was from the future or teenager stuff!

The basic premise is that there has been an outbreak of a virus and we’re reading about the end of the human world scenario. What makes this series an interesting read is that it’s concerned with the bits which happen afterwards.

One of the things which happens afterwards is a love interest. Actually there are two, and in both cases it was nice to see the relationship form and grow instead of having certain bodily parts thrust in your face and invited to the resulting shag-fest afterwards (as it was in Crossing in Time. There was a nice quote which I’ll reproduce here:

“Love is telling someone to go to hell and worrying if they’ll get there safely.”

Actually on this note, there are quite a few random but beautiful quotes scattered throughout the novels – as well as subtle references to other novels and films and subtle humour.

Writing style

I love Deb’s writing style. There’s scifi and comedy there for the taking if you recognise / understand it – and Latin if you care to translate it (I did!) – but more generally, the text reads so smoothly you wonder why it didn’t write itself (and in which case why did I need to wait so long for these novels?!)

The writing is powerful – one character is effectively kidnapped, and this situation is covered in first person – and in the third where the horror extends to the worry and anxiety of those who care about her. I really liked the ‘nicknames’ given to some of the characters – “the Hulk, “Blabbermouth”, “Nurse Ratched”, etc.. It describes not only those characters, but also gives more of an insight into the character asigning those names!

Characters

Recently I started to read a novel which I had to cast aside because its characters were able to do everything and anything and all that in superlative quantities. There was no tension because there were no problems or difficulties.

With Lost Time and Dead Time it’s different. There are many different characters who have many different skills in different levels of abilities. The interaction of these characters was done beautifully, and just as I’m always surprised at how my two daughters are so different from each other despite having the same parents and upbringing, I’m in awe at how an author can create so much character variety!

Interesting twists

In continuation with character interaction and relationships, I was really impressed with some masterful originality in a couple of instances.

The first is a crossover of couples – not in a swinging way, but in the same couples but straddling universes. A James from one universe with Isabella from another. The twist is not just different experiences, but different ages. As you may recall, I wasn’t impressed with the ‘same universe’ relationship from Crossing in Time – here’s things are much more solid.

The age / experience shuffle also comes into play where James meets himself. Characters meeting themselves are often taboo in time travel circles (or lines! πŸ˜‰ ) or characters do very odd things (e.g. in The Man Who Folded Himself (David Gerrold) and All You Zombies by Robert Heinlein). In this case there’s nothing bizarre going on – perhaps as realistic as you’d expect it to be – yet it’s precisely this angle which makes it so interesting!

The ending

I had a bit of a rant when it came to the ending of Crossing in Time. Lost Time doesn’t really have an ending – it pretty much just stops. Not a problem, because we go straight into Dead Time where 3 sub-plots come together and…spoilers will not be divulged! πŸ˜‰

I was pleased that it didn’t stop at the easy-cheesy point but followed through naturally – avoiding the Quantum Leap “Oh Boy!” run into the next instalment.

There is an epilogue. It caught me off guard, but it’s good!

What next?

The next book in the Between Two Evils series is Out of Time. If it’s anything like its predecessors then it’s a novel worth waiting for! (But not too long, please Deb!)

Why not head over to TimeTravelNexus.com and read my interview with Deb.

Paul

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Star ratings:

| 5* Excellent! | 4* Good | 3* OK | 2* Not good | 1* Crud |

Review: Crossing in Time by D. L. Orton

Crossing in Time has a foot in two camps – romance (actually, sexual attraction) and science fiction. The trouble is that almost literally the legs are split too far between these camps. The story line is strong and engaging, and there’s a wealth of juicy time travel ideas and gadgetry in there written against a very knowledgeable (and humourous) backdrop.

Crossing in Time: The First Disaster is D. L. Orton’s first book in the Between Two Evils series.

crossing in time

In short, Isabelle needs to go back in time to rescue her failed relationship with Diego to save the world. It’s not difficult to see where Crossing in Time has its two focuses; a science fiction element encompassing time travel, and the relationship between Isabelle and Diego.

Chapter page
No, that’s not a typo!

We’re not allowed to judge a book by its cover, but I’ll give a brief heads-up to the chapter header pages; some think the following might be a small point but I like it; they have a hand drawn picture on them which is slightly descriptive (as is the chapter title) and helps to give the book a feel of real craftsmanship.

There’s also an indication of the subject of the first person who varies between three or four main characters. It’s sort of obvious from the reading, but the chapter heading makes it clear right from the start and you can get straight into the mindset of the first person character without that frustrating initial who is this? moment.

Writing Style

D. L. Orton is clearly well versed in science fiction from literature and movies, and this percolates throughout the novel. This comes in the form of various quotes and references or parallels drawn in similar circumstances, and again makes me feel that I’m reading a well crafted product.

Woven within the plot itself is subtle humour; it’s really well done because it doesn’t negate or lower the tone which D. L. Orton has skillfully set into place, but enhances feelings and emotions felt by the characters. This isn’t a comedy novel, rather comedy is used as a tool within it.

In addition to the scientific placing and the developed characters, there’s the shifting point of view with multiple first person characters who give differing angles and views on events (and other characters). The final concoction is a well thought out novel with interesting characters, situations and a fascinating underlying plot!

Time travel

There are some brilliant time travel and related science fiction ideas in Crossing in Time. At times though I felt that they could have been introduced or explained a little more instead of simply mentioned in passing. It’s not that it was too complicated; I just thought there were some missed opportunities to expand on some fantastic ideas where other areas of the novel seemed to attract a huge amount of (unnecessary) attention.

Diego is the first to time travel. Actually this is after much testing – though some may argue not enough! πŸ˜‰ A team of scientists develops theories into the worlds of parallel universes and time lines, as well as instrumentation such as peepers to gain insights into them.

Through these scientific tests and discussions over the results we learn more behind the mechanics of the time travel element. The ubiquitous bureaucracy, red tape and village idiots inject a certain amount of realism and credibility to the saga.

Whereas Diego’s trip in time has huge question marks hanging over it, things are a bit clearer for Isabelle, and indeed we follow Isabelle back in time to when she was with Diego in their early years together. Isabelle now has a younger body back in this history, that is to say, a body commensurate with the date. I immediately questioned whether she’d taken her old self’s place, or whether she was a second version, and if so, where was the ‘original’? Just as I was starting to think a hole was developing, clarity came in the text!

Actually, this happens quite frequently in Crossing in Time – I’d think there was a discrepancy or something vital missing only to read the explanation moments later. Note this is just me – it’s my own weakness that I ask too many questions, and in this case, I slowly learned that D. L. Orton would answer my questions at the proper time!

Isabelle and Diego

I’m giving this a separate section as it’s an important part of the novel, though I’ve only got three main things to say about it.

  • I thought that D. L. Orton captures really well an older Isabelle in a younger body meeting her boyfriend again. She retains memory and wisdom from the older self, and still has the excitement from the early days.
  • A mysterious man in a panama hat buys lunch for Diego and Isabella. I’m always suspicious of “mysterious” people in time travel novels as more often than not they turn out to be a key character from the the future. Hopefully I’m wrong here!
  • I was saddened that Isabelle thought that the best way to keep her and Diego together in the future was to teach him primarily how to respond to her sexual desires. Marriage is deeper than that.
  • Apart from these observations, I can’t think of much else to say about it. Just lovey dovey stuff and erotica.

    Erotica

    D.L. Orton ‘warned’ me beforehand that there was erotica in Crossing in Time and was curious to know what I thought about it from a male perspective. That comes as a relief, because for me to give a female perspective would be either impossible or painful. So here it is.

    I didn’t like it.

    To be honest it wasn’t as explicit as I was expecting, in fact it struck me as being done quite tastefully, but yes, it was graphic.

    I’ve nothing against erotica being in a novel – it’s what couples do. We also wait for buses and do the laundry but the point is that I’m just not interested in reading about it. Isabelle and Diego may as well have planted some grass seeds and watched them grow, or painted walls and watched them dry. So what?

    In fairness to them, sex seems to be the crux behind their relationship (see last bullet point above) and of course that’s up to them, but that’s not really my issue.

    But that’s just subjective personal preference. My main gripe in its inclusion isn’t the content. It’s how it drags on and on, adding nothing to depth of character (please don’t take that the wrong way…) or obstinately not taking the plot forwards. I simply felt awkward reading it (for the reasons I mentioned above) and I gained nothing for it πŸ™

    A volcano with no eruption

    Crossing in Time is not self complete. Perhaps this is an unfair thing to comment on in a review of a book which quite clearly says “Book 1” on the cover, but I feel especially cheated because for the last quarter of the novel I was wasting my time reading about the the physical relationship whilst the plot stagnated.

    I was reminded of a recent visit to Mount Etna.

    cable car up Etna

    Flashback: A little while ago I went on an organised tour up Mount Etna. It was a really early start (4:15 am) and on the way we stopped for a bite to eat. It took 3 hours. We also stopped off to be pressured into buying some tourist crap. For an hour.

    Eventually we got to Mount Etna and took a cable car to take us 500 m higher. Excellent stuff! At the top were off road vehicles which could take us right to the smoking rumbling crater rim; the stuff we’d come for!

    But we’d arrived at the site too late; there was only half an hour before the last cable car left to take us back down. I was gutted. The whole purpose of the trip was to get to the top of an active volcano but too much time was wasted beforehand. Instead we could only rumble around the barren rocky landscape.

    offroad

    And it’s the same with this novel. Pages and pages of leg caressing and touching inner thighs…and then…the book ends. There’s no off-roader to move the story line on.

    *Growl*

    So is this a teaser for Book 2? Maybe, but I’d fear that Book 2, and subsequent books until the last one, will end similarly.

    But the story line is strong and ultimately I’d love to read the whole series to see how it pans out.

    And Finally

    A little while ago a friend asked whether I read predominantly male written books, or female. I’d never really thought about it before; to be honest I go straight for the book descriptions and things. Judging a book by it’s cover is quoted for being bad, judging one by the sex of its author I think is insane.

    But that said…it turns out that most books on my read list are written by men. That’s not me deliberately picking out male books, and equally I hope that it’s not that I have a natural preference for male written books. Or come to think of it, I hope it’s also that there aren’t enough science fiction books out there written by women (or girls).

    So somehow that makes Crossing in Time special in that somehow it’s made its way from the mind of a female author through my eyeballs and onto my retina, tumbling into my brain and providing me with much enjoyment.

    Because it’s written by a woman?

    No. Because it’s a great novel with some brilliant science fiction written against a knowledgeable (and humourous) backdrop!

    Rating * * * *

    Crossing in Time has a foot in two camps – romance (actually, sexual attraction) and science fiction. The trouble is that almost literally the legs are split too far between these camps.

    The story line is strong and engaging, and there’s a wealth of juicy time travel ideas and gadgetry in there. I’d love to read the whole series, so for these reasons I’m giving Crossing in Time 4 stars, loosing a star due to the prolonged and unnecessary slushy stuff. I’m cautious though, because focusing on this single book is like judging a meal by the way the waitress walks when she brings you the starter.

    (And in this case, the waitress wrote the menu pretty well too! πŸ˜‰ )

    Read my interview with Deb on Time Travel Nexus where she shares her thoughts on her writing process, inspiration, relationships…and molluscs!

    Paul

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    Disclaimer: A copy of “Crossing in Time” was sent to me free of charge to read and review. This it!

    Star ratings:

    | 5* Excellent! | 4* Good | 3* OK | 2* Not good | 1* Crud |