As anyone who’s read this blog knows, I’m responsible for buying the new adult fiction at The Field Library. As such, I buy a lot of books because I know people will want to read them (new books by popular authors, for instance), but sometimes I buy books just because I personally can’t resist them and I want to have them for patrons to read as well. This explains (partially at least) why there are so many time travel books in our collection. The newest time travel book The Field Library has acquired is Paradox Bound, by Peter Clines, and it is great fun, a book I’m going to be recommending to patrons for some time (see what I did there?).
Eli Teague is an ordinary guy, living in what seems to him like the most backward small town in Maine, where everything is kind of behind the times and nothing exciting ever happens. Until something exciting does happen, three times: he meets the same young woman, dressed in Revolutionary War garb (complete with tricorn hat!), and driving a Model A Ford, that happens to run on water rather than gas. She appears in his life when he’s 8 years old, then when he’s in his teens, and then, when he meets her for the third time when he’s 29, things start getting seriously strange. There are faceless men chasing this woman, and Eli feels the need to help her or at least warn her, so he heads down to Boston to intercept her, and from there on, he’s caught up in a wild trip with the woman (Harry, short for Harriet), driving across the country and through history, in search of — what else? — the American Dream, which turns out to be an actual thing that has been stolen. The loss of the American Dream is responsible for the strange things happening to the country, and whoever finds it and holds it can shape the future of America. As you can guess, Harry and Eli aren’t the only people on the road looking for it, with good motives or bad.
And I’m not going to go into more detail on the plot than that, because it’s the sort of book you’re going to want to discover for yourself. The faceless men are literally without faces (they wear clear plastic masks which somehow make them even scarier), and they are great villains, implacable because of their certainty and practically indestructible. Harry and Eli are fun characters as you get to know them, and they interact with a slew of other fascinating people (including John Henry, who has his own special train to travel through history, as opposed to the antique cars many of the other characters use). There’s even a town called Hourglass where the time travelers meet up at one of three special bars, and since the same person can be there on multiple timelines, there are strict rules about where you can go and with whom you can interact while you’re in Hourglass. There are, of course, paradoxes, and great plot twists and turns, with some scenes reappearing a couple of times from different perspectives (one of the great pleasures of time travel fiction, in my opinion, is seeing a character in a scene, not knowing who that character is or what he’s doing there, and then later discovering that the mystery character is someone you know, only from a different time; if this sounds confusing, then you haven’t read enough time travel novels). There’s danger, there’s adventure, and there’s a satisfying ending that you don’t entirely anticipate. It’s wonderful fun, picking you up and taking you on the most amazing road trip through time and space that will make you look at those odd little towns that seem to have been forgotten by time in an entirely different light.