By Michael Baron
The concept of this story is interesting. You have the protagonist, Ken, given the offer to change the past of his significant other, Melissa, and thus make her life better. After watching his wife’s traumatic past, he immediately decides he must fix this.
How the story actually plays out though is rather messy. Ken views his partner’s past without asking any permission, and only did it out of idle curiosity. Naturally Melissa does not take learning that he uncovered her dark past well. He then purposes ‘fixing’ her past by making it so the horrible event never happened without any real thought to possible negative repercussions. In the new universe alternate Melissa’s life appears to be perfect, and she does not know Ken. Ken realizes he can not live without her, and endeavors to try and become acquainted with her in the new world.
I found that this created an interesting tension in my view of Ken. He clearly acted to try and better his love’s life, and then latter to give significance to his own. However, I don’t think he had the right to do what he did. He essentially destroyed the old Melissa without once pondering if her alternate life might be worse than the one she already occupied. This seems to be a huge risk as we see Melissa happy with Ken, financially well off, and enjoying her work. In fact, we only really see the dark side of Melissa’s life once we see alternate Melissa- which shows that Ken did not realize how potentially unhappy the original Melissa was.
The ending wrapped things up far too cleanly for me, and I found this dissatisfying. The first three quarters of the novel or so were interesting and curious to read though. There’s one queer character in the book who is portrayed completely negatively as a “disgusting deviant”. She is a nightmarish woman who’s also a pedophile. I found this to be unnecessary and rather offensive. If the author did not mean to portray queers in such a way, he easily could have included either another side queer character who’s positive or simply made her male.
All in all, I found this an entertaining story to read and interesting to examine personal and privacy rights further on a deeper level. The narrator also comes across as completely sincere, which made it an easy, and slightly predictable, read.
I would recommend this story to someone who wants a Nicholas Sparks-like romance novel.
Nibble: “And everything is in synchronous motion, from birds flitting among budding trees to office workers shedding their pinstripe skins.”
My Rating: 6 out of 10 apple slices dipped in cheese fondue
I received a free electronic copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.