War Series Review #5: Time and Time Again by Ben Elton

It’s the 1st of June 1914 and Hugh Stanton, ex-soldier and celebrated adventurer is quite literally the loneliest man on earth. No one he has ever known or loved has been born yet. Perhaps now they never will be.
Stanton knows that a great and terrible war is coming. A collective suicidal madness that will destroy European civilization and bring misery to millions in the century to come. He knows this because, for him, that century is already history.
Somehow he must change that history. He must prevent the war. A war that will begin with a single bullet. But can a single bullet truly corrupt an entire century?
And, if so, could another single bullet save it?


Alternate histories can be fun. It’s a pretty good way of learning about history and considering all the possibilities… what if something changed? How would that affect the future?

I found the premise of this book to be good… what would happen if we went back and stopped the bullet that killed Franz Ferdinand? Unfortunately, the rest of it fell flat for me, and became overly predictable. I still enjoyed the writing and parts of the story, but didn’t enjoy it as much as I hoped to. The cover definitely drew me in, isn’t it cool?

It’s a little bit history, a little bit sci-fi and a little bit dystopian, which all worked surprisingly well together. The research in this is very good, giving you the definite sense of time travel. I quite liked the villain and the dystopian aspect of the book, but they weren’t there for long enough to impact the story enough for me.

To highlight how predictable this book is, just sit back and have a think about what could happen if you changed a major historic event like the beginning of World War One.

Thought about it?

You’ve probably got the right answer.

I rated this 2.5 stars, because I felt there weren’t enough consequences for some of the actions in this book, I wasn’t overly fond of the protagonist and I think it was just too predictable.

The rest of my review this time contains spoilers, because I’ve found it too hard to review this without giving something away! I think this book is best read without knowing much more than this, so if you intend on reading this, please don’t read any further!

The rest of you…

I borrowed this from a friend, as I really wasn’t sure that I’d like it enough to spend money on it, but the premise sounded interesting and it’s set in one of my favourite time periods. I’m now glad I did borrow this, as I definitely would have been annoyed if I’d spent $30 on this book.

I was really disappointed. Like I said, I think the premise is good, but it just fell flat for me. Maybe I’ve watched too much Doctor Who, but as soon as they mentioned going back in time to stop the bullet that killed Franz Ferdinand, I knew exactly what would happen. It’s fairly obvious… you’re going to cause big problems. Like wiping yourself out of existence, or making everything worse than it was before, wiping other people out of existence. And I was right.

McCluskie was an interesting villain, as it’s unusual to have an elderly female professor as the evil figure. You’re built up to tolerate her, but not like her particularly, which I also found interesting. It’s a bit of a change from the obviously evil character or the good one that turns out bad. I figured her out pretty quickly, which I was a bit disappointed in… I would have liked more of a surprise. I also think we maybe should have had more time with her, to let her do her villainy thing more thoroughly.

I didn’t really connect with Hugh- so much so that I just had to look up his name, even though I finished it not even 12 hours ago. Either that or my literary Alzheimers is coming on strong today. But no… he just seemed a little bit thick, a little bit too self righteous and just not relatable. We kept being told he’s “dishy”, heroic and very clever, but he really didn’t show it to me.

I liked the idea of going back in time with all your futuristic equipment and the problems that could cause, but I think that angle could have been dealt with more thoroughly… like, actually having consequences for someone coming across your futuristic things. That would have been cool, but it wasn’t really a problem. The fear was there that it would become one, but it never eventuates.

I think Bernadette should have had more consequences… actually, her appearance was around the point that I stopped enjoying the book. Hugh became even more annoying than he was before, with his crappy pick up lines and insta-love.

The future girl was really cool, I enjoyed her and how the dystopic future was built around actual historical figures. I wish she’d been around for longer. Actually, I wish the whole middle bit was cut, so no more Bernadette, with more emphasis on the beginning and end. It almost feels to me like there were three sections to the book, all being different.

So I rate this 2.5 stars. I liked the beginning and the end, I liked the premise, I liked the villain and I liked the cover. I just feel a bit disappointed in the predictability of the plot and how annoying the protagonist was. It’s a bit of a shame, as I really wanted to like this book. But, if you’re ever given the opportunity to time travel, keep this book in mind!


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