Review: Time And Time Again by Ben Elton

Review: Time And Time Again by Ben Elton

Aug 2, 2016, 10:00:00 PM Entertainment

Hugh Stanton is an ex-solider and celebrated adventurer, who in the wake of the death of his wife and children is invited to conduct a mission the likes of which he could never have imagined. He must change history and abandon the world that he lives in to do so. A war must be stopped, and Stanton is the one to do it. But can a single bullet really change history, and thus, the future?

I thought that the concept of Time And Time Again was great and it certainly got me thinking. It poses the question that if you had once chance to change history, where would you go and what would you do differently? In this case, it was World War One. I found the prospect of going back in time in order to prevent a horrendous war an interesting and complex one. As a concept, it has so much potential, and certainly, there are parts of the novel which live up to that. However, overall I found this novel to be quite disappointing.

The mission that Stanton is sent to do is interesting, and the best parts of the novel are when he is in the midst of completing it. There are a number of fast paced scenes right in the middle of the action which are very enjoyable, and those are the parts where the novel shines the most. The aspect of the novel where he tries to cope with the problems of time-travel, and tries to stay under the radar whilst trying to complete a mission that will change the fate of the world, are also well orchestrated. The complications of time-travel are well addressed as small, seemingly harmless actions cause ripples and impact the world in ways that Stanton could not have expected. However, these are soon taken over by personal affairs that, due to the nature of the characters, fall short of the quality shown in the midst of the action.

The main let-down of the novel was the characters. I did not find Hugh Stanton to be particularly engaging, and struggled to empathise with his character. He was built-up to be highly intelligent and dangerous, but other than on a few occasions did I think that his actions backed this up. His character development also felt quite rushed, as he changes his reaction to the death of his wife and children very quickly. I understand that this is to move the plot along at a quicker pace, but the transition did not seem very smooth. I also struggled to relate to Cambridge Master and Professor Sally McCluskey – a huge personality, mentor and friend to Stanton. I did not think that her actions or trains of thought reflected her educational standing, and thus found her quite unbelievable despite being quite entertaining. The character Bernadette Burdette also started out with a lot of potential, appeared interesting and bold but resulted in being quite vapid and was not done the justice that she deserved. There was too much sex and not enough personality displayed with Bernadette, which was disappointing because she could have been so much more as she was initially presented as being sharp and intelligent but ended up being quite irrational, as she blatantly disregarded obvious dangers only to repeatedly be drawn in by physical attraction.

The last few chapters of the novel almost saved it for me, as a new dimension was added to it which adds some poignancy to the story-line, and provided a deeper meaning for what was happening but overall, I was disappointed with the novel. The story-line has so much potential but, for me, the characters let it down. Despite this, there were some action scenes which I enjoyed, but between those it was unrealistic and lacked heart. 

Published by Erin Deakin

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