An aimless young man escapes his dead-end town when he meets a badass, time-traveling adventuress.
Well, it’s just about weird enough in America now for us to deserve a timey-wimey, full-barrel adventure novel from professional noodle-bender Clines (Ex-Isle, 2016, etc.) that also teaches a non-ironic lesson in American civics. One night 8-year-old Eli Teague of tiny Sanders, Maine, comes upon a woman decked out in Revolutionary War attire, complete with pistols, driving a souped-up 1929 Model A. He sees her briefly again at age 13, when he discovers her name is Harry. He’s finally drawn fully into her world at the age of 29. Harry Pritchard is a Searcher, a member of a shadowy alliance called The Chain, and can move back and forth through history. She is searching for the literal “American Dream,” a powerful incarnation of the values of the Founding Fathers, who summoned the Egyptian God of Creation to forge their totem—not as weird as it sounds. The American Dream was long protected by creepy murderous guardians called the faceless men, but the Dream was spirited away in the early 1960s. Now Harry and her companions use temporal anomalies called “slick spots” to flit through two centuries of American history. They’re hotly pursued by the faceless men, who now number Eli’s childhood bully among them. On their travels to pursue Harry’s leads, we meet a James Dean who faked his own death to search for the American Dream and the folkloric icon John Henry as well as other curious people who helped shape American history. Clines even throws in a few in-jokes for fun—the "transparent aluminum defense" is funny enough to trigger a spit take. Eli is a fine avatar for the reader but it’s Harry’s epithet-wielding, pistol-packing heroine that will capture hearts.
A rousing adventure novel that marries steampunk aesthetics to the seminal concept of protecting American liberty.