The Bossy Bookworm
Review of How to Stop Time by Matt Haig
ICYMI: In Matt Haig's How to Stop Time, main protagonist Tom Hazard lives for centuries but is not allowed to fall in love. When he rejects the rules, he must reckon with mortality, heartbreak, and the meaning and purpose of his extended existence.
“That is the whole thing with the future. You don’t know. At some point you have to accept that you don’t know. You have to stop flicking ahead and just concentrate on the page you are on.”
In How to Stop Time, Matt Haig explores the beauty and the horror of time as it spools on essentially without end while his characters live through many centuries.
Tom Hazard is a high school English teacher. He's also a seemingly 41-year-old man, but he's actually been alive for centuries.
The Albatross Society has one rule for its members, all of whom live on and on: never fall in love. So when Tom begins to fall for the French teacher at school, it may renew his faith in the world and in humanity--but it can also only mean trouble.
Haig dives into Hazard's wonder at new experiences and his and other characters' perspectives on the world and history, but also the heartbreak of their loneliness and the weight of the constant loss of their beloved “mayflies” (other people, who live such relatively short existences compared to Tom and his fellow Albatross Society members).
“It made me lonely. And when I say lonely, I mean the kind of loneliness that howls through you like a desert wind. It wasn't just the loss of people I had known but also the loss of myself. The loss of who I had been when I had been with them.”
While I enjoyed main protagonist Tom Hazard’s point of view, which evolves by the close of the story, the shift seemed to come about a little abruptly, so it felt somewhat unsatisfying.
The ending felt a little too quickly wrapped up, and I didn’t feel particularly emotionally invested in the book's Big Events. But there were many lovely, lovely moments in How to Stop Time, and I really like Haig's writing style.
Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?
Haig is also the author of The Midnight Library and his memoir-ish book that I'm reading now, Reasons to Stay Alive, as well as many others.
If you like books that play with time, you might also like the books on the Greedy Reading Lists Six Fascinating Second-Chance, Do-Over, Reliving-Life Stories and Six Riveting Time-Travel Escapes.