Review | How To Stop Time | Matt Haig
(U.S. and Canada) Publication Date: Tuesday, February 6th, 2018
Page Count: 336
First Sentence: "I often think of what Hendrich said to me, over a century ago, in his New York apartment."
Synopsis: From Amazon-Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he's been alive for centuries. Tom has lived history--performing with Shakespeare, exploring the high seas with Captain Cook, and sharing cocktails with Fitzgerald. Now, he just wants an ordinary life.
So Tom moves back his to London, his old home, to become a high school history teacher--the perfect job for someone who has witnessed the city's history first hand. Better yet, a captivating French teacher at his school seems fascinated by him. But the Albatross Society, the secretive group which protects people like Tom, has one rule: Never fall in love. As painful memories of his past and the erratic behavior of the Society's watchful leader threaten to derail his new life and romance, the one thing he can't have just happens to be the one thing that might save him. Tom will have to decide once and for all whether to remain stuck in the past, or finally begin living in the present.
How to Stop Time tells a love story across the ages - and for the ages - about a man lost in time, the woman who could save him, and the lifetimes it can take to learn how to live. It is a bighearted, wildly original novel about losing and finding yourself, the inevitability of change, and how with enough time to learn, we just might find happiness.
My Thoughts: This solidifies Matt Haig as an insta-read author for me. (Others include John Green, Mary Kubica, and Liane Moriarty). To me, an insta-read author doesn't always write the perfect book, but they're always entertaining and/or impactful for me. How To Stop Time is no different. I'd classify it as more time travel than science fiction, because despite the wild sounding premise, things were strangely believable. We have Tom Hazard (his current name), who is over 400 years old. He was born with a rare condition that causes him to age at 1/19th of the speed of regular humans (or 'mayflies. Ouch.) He aged a little slower than normal until he was about 13 years old. After that, things all but stopped. Quickly, the townspeople started to notice that he never aged and he learned the hard way how important is to survival. The story flashes back and forth between his present day and his past life. Haig plays with time and at first, it was off-putting that things flashed so quickly between the two. But then as the story went on, I came to realize he was leading up to something greater. I know there's a love story mentioned in the synopsis, but I really didn't feel overwhelmed by the love story in any way. That's a good thing. This isn't The Notebook. A lot of Tom's actions are driven by his love for his first love, but there was much more to his story. Imagine being a part of a society whose only rule is that you can't fall in love, can't get close to anyone, and that you have to move every eight years. What's life without the relationships within it? Tom doesn't travel through time so much as he just ages and describes his experiences as he's had them. He runs into the likes of Shakespeare, Charlie Chaplain, and F. Scott Fitzgerald- just fun encounters that helped move the story along. There's also a little bit of action, especially toward the end. But I will say this story is way more character driven than plot driven, if you're into that. It raises a bunch of questions about mortality, morality, medicine, and philosophy. Haig's ability to take himself out of the human experience continues to impress. If you read and enjoyed The Humans, you'll like this. If you haven't read either, you need to. Plus there's sweet dogs in both of them, which is always a plus in my book.
Favorite Quote: "...And I felt the horror or her horror. That, I suppose, is a price we pay for love: the absorbing of another's pain as if our own."
Rating: 4.25/5 I could spend many more hours reading about Tom's lifetimes.
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