woensdag 3 mei 2017

"Time and Time Again" by Ben Elton

"We've just lost our way, that's all. But what if you could give us a chance to do better? Just one chance? One single move in the great game of history? What's your best shot? What would you consider to be the greatest mistake in world history and, more to the point, what single thing would you do to prevent it?"

I love stories about time travel. Especially tales in which people travel back in time. When you come to think about the things you could change in the past and the consequences this could have on the present ... well, it's mind-boggling. Lots of authors have tackled the concept; recently we've had the brilliant 11/22/63 by Stephen King and now there's "Time and Time Again" by Ben Elton.

Ex-soldier Hugh Stanton has just lost his wife and children in an accident and he feels life is not worth living anymore. But then his old professor offers him the most improbable mission: nothing less than to save the world. An old document left by Isaac Newton reveals a way to go back in time, to the year 1914, more specifically. And this happens to be the year one of history's most disastrous events started. Stanton travels back in time to prevent the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and thus keep Word War I from happening. But he soon finds out there's a very thin line between saving the world and messing up completely.

I'm quite familiar with Ben Elton's name because of his involvement in TV series like "Blackadder" and "The Young Ones" and the musicals "We Will Rock You" and "Love Never Dies"(the sequel to "Phantom of the Opera"). I wasn't prepared for this novel, though. This is a tight thriller, clever, suspenseful and extremely well written. The characters are great: Stanton is a solid protagonist and secondary characters like Sally McClusky, Bernadette and Katie really shine. Elton gives us a lot of interesting background to the events that led up to the Great War, without slowing down the pace. There are some unexpected twists at the end and the finale is absolutely epic, mindblowing. Fantastic book - one of the best I've read this year. Is it as good as King's 11/22/63? Well, maybe not quite. But it's still a must-read.

Author: Ben Elton
Title: Time and Time Again
Publisher: Black Swan, London
Year: 2015 (orig. 2014)
Number of pages: 463 p.
ISBN: 9780552779999

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