“Timeline” – I Should Have Watched Back to the Future

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Timeline seemingly offered everything I could ever want in a novel. It was written by Michael Crichton, who isn’t the most prized author out there, but The Lost World is in my top ten. The plot revolved around time travel. I’ll watch almost any movie, no matter how awful, if they have to go back in time to save someone or something, without changing the course of history. And on top of that, the characters would be time traveling to the middle ages. I’ll forever have a love for knights in armor and fair ladies. Unfortunately my expectations were just too high. The book was a let down, and while enjoyable, it was definitely forgettable. It’s been two days and I’ve already forgotten what happened.

As always, Crichton does incredible work when describing the technical aspects of complicated ideas. In this book it was the concept of time travel. It’s actually going to a different universe, not exactly traveling in time. It has something to do with quantum physics. Most other authors would make that subject completely boring, and while I retained barely any of it, I did enjoy myself when reading.

The ones who have this technology are your typical shady big business. They allow a professor to go and test it out. Unfortunately he gets lost in during The Hundred Years War, and they recruit his assistants to go in a get him. They’re mostly all historians. You have the one character Andrè, who has been in love with the time period his whole life. He knows all the different languages, can shoot a bow, proficient in broad sword fighting and jousting. Right from the start you know he’s going to be of use when they all go back in time. Kate is your typical hard nosed tom-boy character. And Chris is the good looking, but oft heart broken regular guy. If I had to choose, he would be the main character but it fluctuates between those three nicely.

In the end it was like eating junk food. You get that instant satisfaction, but you regret it after and wish you’d have eaten a banana. The characters were decent. I particularly liked André, but the dialogue was sub par and minimal character development. Chris had the most growth as a character. The ending was definitely rushed. Everything just happened to work out in their favor the last twenty minutes. I understand it’s hard to end a book, but after reading The Way of Kings my expectations were sky high.

Expectations were my problem. I had this book on my “to-read” list for so long, putting it on a pedestal it never belonged on. You go in with the proper excitment level and Timeline will be a good read. I’m sure there’s much better Crichton work out there. Two of which I can vouch for—Jurassic Park and The Lost World. Hell, I’d even put Pirate Latitudes up there. Okay maybe not.

If you need a quick fix then check this book out, but don’t let it be your first introduction into the time travel genre. There’s so much better content out there.

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