I’ve never wanted to time travel. While there have been many wonderful experiences I’ve had in the past, I wouldn’t want to risk losing the enjoyment of a wonderful experience by having too much information about what was about to happen. I also don’t want to know too much about what is on the horizon, preferring to experience things as they happen, with no firm knowledge of what is to come. Of course it goes without saying that I wouldn’t voluntarily revisit the more painful periods of my life, particularly if that came with the knowledge that I was powerless to change the past.That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy either reading or watching shows where time travel is a possibility. For me, it’s always about how the individual responds to their journeys.
Recently I had the opportunity to read The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas, having received a free advanced digital copy by NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books in exchange for an honest review. I can honestly say it was one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read recently and I wasn’t ready for it to be over. When I read the last sentence it was with reluctance that I left the world that had been so intricately created with fascinating characters who both intrigued and, in some cases, repelled me.
Mascarenhas has created some of the most complex characters I’ve read in awhile. The book is filled primarily with strong female characters who are brilliant, accomplished, and successful. It begins with four scientists who invent a time travel machine which ultimately results in the creation of a time travel consortium that is run by one of the four. The book details how both ageing and the unique properties of being able to travel through time shape each woman’s personality and decision making. One might say it demonstrates the idea of becoming yourself, only more so as you age and in this instance how that is affected by the unique aspects of traveling into the future and encountering one’s future self and/or selves.
In addition to this personality study, there is a mystery that is paramount to the book and provides a framework for some of the time travel that is detailed in the story. The mystery is interesting, but is secondary to the overall story. It is the reason many of the characters are detailed in the book, and their purpose for some of the actions they take, but never is it presented as a puzzle for the reader to solve. Rather, it is something that is revealed to the reader as they travel along on the various journeys taken by different characters in the book. This approach increases the reader’s opportunity to sit back and enjoy the journey along with the characters in the book.
Early on we learn the problems time travel creates for one of the four inventors and how it places her on the outside of what had once been a tight-knit group of friends. We also see how one of the four pushes this ousting, and how her personality becomes more controlling over the years. We also get to watch a third member of the group as she moves through time and watch as her personality develops along different lines with perhaps a greater sense of accountability. A fourth member of the group doesn’t get as much mention i this novel and remains a question regarding how time travel and her participation in the invention may or may not have changed her.
Throughout the book there are some unique situations, such as individuals being allowed to see and interact with their future selves. This aspect of time travel creates some peculiar issues, particularly in how laws are developed and what methods are used when a law within the world of the time travelers has been broken. Add to this development a push by the head of the time traveler’s organization to desensitize travelers to certain aspects of life and death and you have the premise of an excellent novel.
I wasn’t ready for this book to be over when I read the final sentence. There were several characters with whom I would have enjoyed spending more time. The world in which they live has almost infinite possibilities because they can travel through time and thus it is only restricted by the limits of the author’s imagination. The best thing I can say about the end is that while it was a definite finish to this particular story, I could see many future stories being developed that might include both these same characters and others who, based on the results of this book, would also be well-drawn and complex in their development.
So, how to conclude this particular blog? I still don’t want to travel back or forward in time. I’m having way too much fun seeing what happens and where it leads in my here and now. Still, if this book leads to a series, put me down as first in line to read the next one. Just because I don’t want to do it doesn’t mean I don’t want to imagine it as possible.