I’ve been sitting on this review for quite a while, not 100% sure what I wanted to say about this book. I was only about half finished with it during our book club discussion, but reading all of the comments, I knew I just didn’t feel as strongly about this book as most of you did. And I was pissed.
I really wanted to love this. I was so fired up to read it. But maybe there was just too much hype, that when I found it to be “just fine,” I felt like I missed something. Why didn’t I love it as much as everyone else?
WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME?
Of course the traumatic experiences that Dana had bothered me and stuck with me, and of course I wanted to strangle Rufus for his complete ass-ness. And of course I went into a panic when Kevin was stuck in the past alone.
But I never really connected with Dana. And after some thought, I guess that’s ok. None of my life experiences are comparable to Dana’s. I can read about the awful things that happened to Dana and everyone else at the plantation, but I can never completely understand what that was like.
I can try to imagine being beaten to unconsciousness. I can try to imagine being separated from my children for capricious reasons. I can try to imagine not being allowed to learn how to read or write. But I can never, ever really understand that reality.
There was a lot that I liked about this book, however. I just didn’t love it as much as I expected to. I liked Butler’s concise writing style, where every word was carefully chosen and nothing is extraneous. I liked the fact that she pretty much threw all of the rules of time travel out the window — she let Dana change the past as it benefited her survival. I spent a lot of time obsessing about Dana’s ballpoint pen and wondering how it might change the future, but finally I realized I was wasting my time. Dana needed her bag of stuff because she NEEDED it, not because it was some Chekhov’s Gun plot point.
Most of all, I liked that she started the story with the end of the story. That gave me a weird sense of comfort, knowing that even if Dana goes through the trauma of losing her arm, that she ends up at home with Kevin, even if she and Kevin aren’t the people that they used to be.
I wonder how I would have felt about this if I had read it without hearing anything about it, without reading all of the 5 star reviews. I really wish I was one of the reviewers who adored this book and had lots of amazing and insightful things to say about it. I guess I’ll just have to deal with the fact that I liked it and thought it was fine.