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Reading is Therapy

I choose to read books instead of watching TV.

Currently reading

The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind
Gustave Le Bon
Les Deux Tours (Le Seigneur des Anneaux, #2)
J.R.R. Tolkien
The Quran
The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger If you are interested in this book because there is a love story AND/OR time traveling, then you might actually really like this book. BUT you might also have quite a problem with the style of writing and the main characters' personality.

How I came across this book and expectations: When I first heard of this book on tumblr, it seemed to be highly praised and appreciated. I bought it with medium to high expectations : I really like fictional romance novels but I refrained my enthusiasm because of the time traveling part (I’m not a big fan, sorry). Before I started reading it, I went on GR and was quite astonished to read so many 1 to 2 stars reviews. But now, I do understand.
It’s not that bad of a book, but it’s not THAT good either, in my humble opinion.

Time traveling: As I said, I am not a fan of anything paranormal but I put my opinion aside and decided to give it a go. I have to say that once I put my rationality to rest, the part with the time traveling was good. Well constructed with clever foreshadowing. But i didn't like the unbalance of time traveling in time: Henry travel more into the past than the future which has no other purpose but to make a longing lady out of Claire after Henry's death. And the few times that he does go into the future, he CAN NOT meet Claire (how convenient, isn't it?). There is no tangible reason for Henry to travel more into the past than the future.It angered me so much not because I wanted the characters to be reunited or whatsoever but because there is no explanation about it.

Romance: It’s undeniable that Henry and Clare are deeply, unconditionally, wholeheartedly in love with each other, and it’s quite touching. But at the same time, their love is non conform to what falling in love should be : Henry had an influence on Clare since she was 6 and Clare had an influence on Henry since he was 28. There was no way out of it. They could only love each other because they were both the construct of the other one. Also this form of love, besides seeming brainwash-y to me, is so self inclusive that the reader can’t really relate and share their experiences. They are so engrossed in each other, to which we can add the weird pervy attitude that they have when being together that it made me feel sick.

The main characters : They are very realistic and I liked THAT a lot but I didn’t like the characters themselves. They are imperfect and this is what make them realistic but they are way too much flawed to be like-able. Clare is lively but send a condescending vibe, Henry on the other hand is more pondered but seems egoist.
Also there is Claire’s total lack of empathy for anyone else but herself. Maybe it’s because her mom didn’t love her enough or something like that.
Quote :(Claire about her family) “Sometimes I just want to push them all into Lake Michigan and watch them sink”.

The secondary characters : There is a long list of friends and relatives that comes into the story and surely they were necessary because Claire and Henry couldn’t just come out of nowhere. But they were uninteresting. There are all in some way broken, shady, psychotic, under developed, stereotypical; as a constant noise in the background. In all this rubbish, I liked the bits about Henry’s feeling and thoughts for his lost mother where it gets a bit emotional since it was genuine and selfless.

The plot and development: I liked the way the story was progressing all along (if you cut through all the grocery shopping lists), really : it was brillant, but I didn’t like
• the fact that they suddenly got 8 million dollars to buy themselves a house. Selfish, I tell you.
• the oh so many miscarriages. It’s scary, crazy, insane.
• all the friends and family meetings that bored me to death (especially the Christmas one) since it has no other thing in it but Claire being unpleasant.
• The lack of importance of Kendrick who is the only character that made this time traveling story credible with his scientific approach.
Henry character development. I don’t think it led to anything concrete except a haircut.
• The idea of their 10 yo daughter time traveling, being naked in some place she doesn’t know. Claire really wanted a child, fine. But of course she wanted Henry’s child (otherwise – like adoption, it would have been “pretending”...) even though she knew the risk of the heredity of his condition.
• 41 yo Henry making love to 18 yo Claire. Gomez having sex with Claire. Henry pleasuring himself. Henry having sex with Claire while his older self is sleeping 3 inches away. I don’t have anything against sex scenes but the author made them so uncalled for that it disturbed me.
• Niffenger’s lack of knowledge in foetus development and genetic science.

Excerpt that I liked : Henry’s post mortum letter to Claire. And this quote (which is not from the author) : Now I lay me down to sleep/I pray the Lord my soul to keep/If I shall die before I wake/I pray the Lord my soul to take.

The length: It’s a relative long book (518 pages) and I do not usually mind the length but this book was long for nothing. We have to deal with a lot of Claire background and friends, accompanied by Henry’s past. Some of it is useful for the construction of the story but most of it (and I skipped through it) just seems to be the author ramblings (I will get into that below). The first 2/3 half of the book are boring and the last 1/3 is depressing.

The author style : The author was probably trying to develop and flesh out her story but she just made it unbearable to read and seems like she was showing off. They were so many bits about history, music, religion, architecture, literature, food even that made me wonder if she mixed up her life with her characters’ ones. I won’t talk about the random sentences in foreign language. It didn’t make the book smarter but only uncollected into various fields. Also she didn’t succeed into conveying her characters’ feelings. The constant intern monologue doesn’t really allow the reader to feel sympathy for them, it just make us see the story, not be part of it. We know what happens and what the characters think but no how they feel and that’s a bad point.

The story is brilliant because of the deep love story and the well managed time traveling aspect so I can understand that it was prized but I didn’t find it amazing myself. If you look a bit more into it, a lot of the time traveling aspect was neglected because what mattered most was the romance, and the romance was realistic but sick. The thing that disappointed me the most is, I think, Claire. I thought that she would be a lovely heroine but she is not, she is just like any other human on the streets, with way to many flaws.

This is one of the few work of which I would recommend the movie over the book.

My rating : 1,5 stars out of 5. I did not like this book, it bored me, I struggled through the read, I wanted to throw it under my bed most of the time. I skimmed A LOT of passages. But because this book has something not so dumb (I refuse to use the word intelligent, as it would make the author justify her ramblings) in its construction, I’ll give it a bit more than 1 star, but not 2 because it was definitely NOT “okay”.