In Spotson’s sci-fi debut, an alien gives a man a chance to live his life over again.
Max Thorning finds a coded message in an old book on time-travel theory. When he decodes it, he’s transported to modern-day Athens, Greece, where he meets Dr. Time, an alien who uses a device, the Time Weaver, to allow 42-year-old Max to become his 16-year-old self again in 1987. It’s a one-way trip, so Max has years to fix things that have gone wrong in his life—including his strained relationship with his older sister, his parents’ divorce and his own unhappy marriage. But will a single journey into the past be enough to change everything? Spotson’s novel certainly isn’t a run-of-the-mill time-travel tale; in fact, there’s no travel, per se; Max’s trip to 1987 is more spiritual than physical, as he essentially takes over the body of his younger self. By wisely keeping time travel to a minimum, Spotson avoids many logistical pitfalls and instead provides an effective drama as Max acts as a marriage counselor to his feuding parents and tries to better his life by studying to be a doctor. Dr. Time’s origin is hazy, but more of his alien background would likely detract from the story’s true focus: a man determined to remake his fate. As Max changes his past life, he transforms the future he previously knew; some of his attempts to change outcomes don’t always work, and some anticipated events either don’t happen or occur at different times. It’s fascinating to watch a teenager exhibit 42 years of maturity, as when Max surprises his parents by cleaning his room and inadvertently calls a date “young lady.” But the book’s at its best during its gloomier parts. Max also left behind two children in the future whom he adored, and he’s plagued with regret; he sees poignant images of his hearing-impaired daughter, as she signs ominous messages that she’s “waiting” for him.
A distinctive debut novel about the unpredictability of a life already lived, with enough time-bending to intrigue sci-fi fans.