The subject of time travel has always been an interesting one to me, so the premise of this book hooked me right away. Andrew Johnson is just an ‘average Joe’, who on the eve of his fiftieth birthday gets sucked back through time to 1985 by a mysterious storm that blows up while he is mowing his lawn. Of course, his cell phone is in his pocket and miraculously makes the journey with him. There’s no internet access, since the internet hasn’t been invented yet, but it still contains all of his games, photos and music. But more on this later.
Andrew decides that he is ‘stuck’ in 1985 after spending just one night in an old farmhouse that stands on the property where his home is located in the future. I felt that he came to this conclusion rather quickly, and was a bit surprised that he didn’t hang around the site for a few more days to see if perhaps another storm would blow up and take him back to the present day. He already seems to be somewhat conscious of the fact that his actions in 1985 could have a ripple effect on the future, yet the first thing he decides to do is make contact with his parents. Baffling. While Andrew takes great pains to avoid his ‘past-self’ throughout the book, he eventually decides to also ‘out’ his future self to his sister, and even has a chance encounter with his ex-wife in a supermarket, which somehow leads to one of his future daughters not being born. The ‘loss’ of his daughter is part of what drives Andrew for the rest of the book, as he attempts to make it through the next 25 years to presumably undo the damage he has done. The other thing that drives him is his love for his second wife, Amy, who he ‘left behind’ in 2010. Or did he?
In order to make a living in the 80s, Andrew initially starts placing bets on sporting events that he already knows the outcome of. This, of course, puts him on the radar of some particularly unsavory characters in the world of sports gambling. So much for keeping a low profile. I also found it a little implausible that Andrew could remember all of those 80s sports statistics with such accuracy, but maybe that’s just me. In any case, Andrew takes all of his newfound wealth and forms an electronics and gaming company based on the technology he possesses in his 2010 cell phone. So much for not wanting to cause a ‘ripple effect’ in the future. Andrew has the foresight to turn off his phone when he first arrives in 1985 to conserve the battery life, but it takes literally YEARS for him to form the company, hire the employees, and create the technology that can recharge his phone. Somehow, though, his phone miraculously remains charged all that time. That’s some battery life.
In a not-so-coincidental twist of fate, Andrew also hires on Tom, the first husband of his second wife, Amy, as a partner in his new company. This allows him to ‘keep tabs’ on Amy, while pining for her from not-exactly-afar. Tom is, to not put too fine a point on it, a real slimebag. Why Andrew thinks it’s worth the risk to trust him is beyond me. He also makes Tom, and by extension, Amy, incredibly wealthy. Again, there’s this disconnect between Andrew claiming that he doesn’t want to alter history, yet he almost seems to go out of his way to alter it at every turn. He even finally winds up confiding in Amy who he really is, although, to her credit, she is skeptical at first.
The rest of what happens is really too spoilery to go into at great length, but I have to say that the tie-in to the events on 9/11 seemed a bit far-fetched to me. Also, the final forty pages of the book really had me scratching my head, and I had to go back and re-read passages several times to make sure that I wasn’t missing something.
Overall, I would say that I enjoyed the romance aspect of the book, and found Andrew’s love and dedication to Amy and his family very touching. This was far from a quick read, though. At over 400 pages long, it could definitely have benefited from some ‘tightening up’ to make the story move faster. There was also a lot of ‘telling’ versus ‘showing’ in this book, and in that respect it could have used more dialogue as opposed to Andrew explaining ‘first I did this, and then I did that’. Most distracting of all, however, were the numerous spelling and grammatical errors throughout. It should be noted that I was NOT reading an ARC, but was instead provided with a final published copy. Errors like that should definitely have been caught during the editing process. Also, and this may just be a pet peeve of mine, there were far too many exclamation points used for my liking. Again, this may have been distracting only to me. All that being said, however, if you’re a fan of time-travel stories, you may enjoy this one.
While mowing his lawn, Andrew Johnson is pulled back through time by a strange storm that leaves a black hole in its wake. Andrew leaves behind his new wife and the life he always dreamed of, and with no way back, he tries to create a life in the year 1985. The technology of his cell phone promises to make him rich beyond his wildest dreams, but a brief encounter with his ex-wife causes a ripple effect that erases his daughter from existence.
Now Andrew must try and survive the next 25 years in the hopes the black hole will reappear so he can travel back once more and save his daughter – and himself. But making it 25 years is starting to seem less likely as he is plagued by bad luck. Is bad luck all it is? Or is time trying to punish him for meddling in the past?