The Map of Time: A Novel (1) (The Map of Time Trilogy) Mass Market Paperback – June 26, 2012
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|Mass Market Paperback, June 26, 2012||
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"Strange and wonderful. Magical and smart. Felix J. Palma has done more than written a wonderful novel, he's concocted a supernatural tour de force. Time travel, tragic love, murder and mystery all combine in what is nothing short of a surprising, satisfying and mesmerizing read." - M.J. Rose, International Bestseller
""The Map of Time" recalls the science fiction of Wells and Verne, and then turns the early masters on their heads. A brilliant and breathtaking trip through metafictional time." --Scott Westerfeld, "New York Times" bestselling author of "Leviathan"
"Lyrical storytelling and a rich attention to detail make this prize-winning novel an enthralling read." --starred "Library Journal" Review
"Readers who embark on the journey...will be richly rewarded. --starred "Booklist" review
"Palma uses the basic ingredients of steampunk -- fantasy, mystery, ripping adventure and Victorian-era high-tech -- to marvelous effect. " --"Seattle Times"
"'Intellectual thriller' is not an oxymoron in this case. Eccentric, informed. Time travel, H.G. Wells, Jack the Ripper, robots, romance, changing history, destroying classic literature. Spot on narration. Good clean fun." --"Tulsa World"
""The Map of Time "is a singularly inventive, luscious story with a core of pure, unsettling weirdness. With unnerving grace and disturbing fantasy, it effortlessly straddles that impossible line between being decidedly familiar, and yet absolutely new." --Cherie Priest, author of "Boneshaker"
"Palma is a master of ingenious plotting." --"Kirkus Reviews"
"A big, genre-bending delight." --"The Washington Post"
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Pick a character. Any character. Palma enthusiastically gives you dozens of pages of backstory, a device that so diminishes the effect of his rather clever tale of time travel. Andrew Harrington. His father and uncle. Author H.G. Wells. Gilliam Murray. Claire Haggerty. Tom Blunt. Inspector Garrett. Each character is introduced and then diluted with endless backstory that is as uninteresting as it is ineffective; it thoroughly upsets the pace and timing of the story centering around the murder of a Whitechapel prostitute by Jack the Ripper in the late 19th Century of London--and whether time travel can be employed to prevent said murder. That Palma can sacrifice such a premise on the threshold of limitless backstory is disappointing to the extreme.
Palma is a gifted writer with a razor wit and keen eye for detail; yet he always wants to take the reader back to go through layer after layer of each character's life--as uninteresting as it may be. If I want to learn about H. G. Wells' childhood I can get the data in a biography--not a novel about time travel. Such is the plight of THE MAP OF TIME. What a disappointment.
--D. Mikels, Esq.
Book One was by far my favorite of the collection. It sucks you right into the story by introducing a main character who is determined to kill himself, but refuses to give up the answer to why he wants to die without any sort of brevity. Then the author begins to weave in his recurring themes, Time travel, the mysteries of the human brain and heart, Jack the ripper, and time as an ideology…
Book Two was probably my least favorite, simply because of the naivety Victorian Era women were taught to possess. The main heroine, Clair thinks she is least naïve of all but that belief turns false. I can't really relate to her -- I am by no means a feminist, but I think anyone can agree, that women have changed over the decades-- but I can understand her co-character Tom… Everyone at some point has a moment where they want something out of reach, where they dream to be better, to be loved…
Book Three made me smile despite the violent imagery. HG Wells, “the father of science fiction” who was merely a player in books 1 & 2 is cast in a leading role. And despite all the speculation of “guardian of time” between the three stories, I feel he is the only character who doesn't receive an epiphany, but the reader is allowed to feel what he cannot… That if there is a guardian of time, HG Wells may be that guardian…even if he’ll never know it. The one thing I didn't like about Book 3 was that character Gilliam Murray talks too much...In books 1 and 2 his narration is needed to explain things...and while I understand he is the villain recounting his master plan to his arch nemesis...it probably could have been shortened.
A couple of years ago, I read 550 pages of Elizabeth Kostova's 720-page The Historian--carried along by Kostava's masterful writing--before I realized that the plot was dull and the characters simply uninteresting. At least I saw the writing on the wall in The Map of Time at the 50-page mark. All in all, the book wasn't horrible, it just wasn't good, and at more than 700 pages there are many better books with which I can spend my time.
Yes, this was intricate. There were three distinctive sub plots that fused into the main plot and despite my immense of enjoyment and serious problems with setting it down for the night, this wasn't a light read by any stretch, nor is it your typical best selling steampunk/mystery novel. It does take patience with your attention span in places, only because the plot is so finely crafted there were instances where it became not exactly hard to follow, but you do have to give this book your fullest concentration. It's not a beach read, that is for sure. But the writer is a GENIUS, and not simply for the story line. The characters I found to be vividly real, you will think of them well after this book is closed for the final time. The writing is absolutely superb - the prose is so beautiful yet it's an easy read for all it flows so well. Not that it didn't have its flaws, but they were so minor and this is just such a remarkable book, all around, that I was left incoherent after finishing it.
VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Top international reviews
What I find astonishing is this book -- the Map of Time -- only gets an average rating of 3.37 where as Stephen King's 11.22.63 gets an average rating of 4.27! (on another site out of many thousands of ratings). I gave the latter 38/100. Both feature time travel, but the latter is a borefest! The vast bulk of 11.22.63 is monotonous. And the end depressing and predictable.
I've come to the conclusion that how much I like a novel *bears no relationship whatsoever* to how much other people like it. Sometimes I think a novel is absolutely wonderful, and this seems to be reflected in the average rating, but equally, other times it's not.
So I don't think there's any point in me looking at the average rating in future. Equally, the fact I gave this 5 stars will be of no indication that you who are reading this review will like this book. Indeed, there's no point in you reading this review at all.
What initally appears to be an interesting concept becomes a badly thought out and very tedious read.
How its got good reviews I can't imagine
The first story is that of Andrew, a young man whose one true love was a prostitute who was murdered by Jack the Ripper. Just in time to stop him from killing himself, his friend convinces him that he may be able to travel in time to save her life.
The second story is that of Tom Blunt, a hires muscle / actor working for a conman, and of the girl who falls in impossible love with him.
The final story is that of HG Wells, science fiction author, investigating some murders that may or may not have been committed by time travellers.
HG Wells is one of the recurring characters, and his novel The Time Machine is referenced many times as one of the engines of the story: it set the notion of time travel in motion.
Well, that's about enough about the plot. Let's talk about the style: it is poor and bland. Not only bland, but amateurish. Every character is a ruminating storyteller, and each character who walks on stage immediately proceeds to tell a backlog of (true or fictitious) life story / previous adventures, delivered in huge infodumps that lack any redeeming features. Yawn. Not only are they all the same in that regard: none of them are particularly interesting or pleasant to be around. Andrew is a self-pitying spoilt rich kid. The girl is not the spunky free spirit the author tries to describe her as, but a woefully naive silly romance-obsessed spoilt person. Tom Blunt is not a flawed hero, but a nasty manipulative bastard. HG Wells is a detached, boring man. The list goes on. One after another, we meet characters who are not very interesting, but constantly desperate to narrate neverending chunks of plot in the blandest tone imaginable.
The plot, meanwhile, delivers little intrigue and less excitement. It clunks from scene to scene, thinking it is clever and toying with reader expectations, but ultimately it is just forced, bland, uninspiring and disappointing stuff. Then, of course, it tries to deliver on the expectations that it intentionally frustrated early on. Woeful.
Despite all that, I finished the book, never quite sure why. I think it was just about easy enough to read, and I got reasonably far into the story quite quickly, so that I ploughed on by sheer stubborn inertia.
A few final points about the narrative voice: The author telling the story cannot resist addressing the reader. Fine. This can work, if done very well. Here, it fails spectacularly. Highlighting not only that the narrator is omniscient, but drawing attention to shifts in perspective, flashbacks, and other awkward writerly choices, the voice points out that it is telling the story in such clumsy ways, only to say things like "allow me to switch perspective here, but I think the story is more interesting if..." - Ugh. It is painfully conscious of the flaws in the writing, and tries to turn them into a feature, rather than a flaw, by pointing them out. That is not clever. That is shoddy writing, shoddily bridged. In case you wonder while reading whether there is any twist (is the voice God? The devil?), let me assure you, the voice is irrelevant. It is not a character, not God, not the devil. It is merely the writer.
An awful novel, really.