You Had Me at "Time Travel"
I love a time-travel story in any genre. This Greedy Reading List offers a little of everything: light fiction/rom-com, mystery, fantasy, contemporary fiction, and science fiction.
Time-travel and time shifts allow the story to go places it otherwise never could, allowing for unusual perspective, second chances, and realizations. Books that play with time almost always go straight on my to-read list.
If you're intrigued by time-travel stories, you might also like the books on the Greedy Reading Lists Six Riveting Time-Travel Stories to Explore and Six Second-Chance, Do-Over, Reliving-Life Stories.
Are there any stories you love that play with time?
01 One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
McQuiston's love letter to New York offers charming song references, LGBTQ love, steamy scenes, character growth--and an irresistible playing-with-time element.
In One Last Stop, twenty-three-year-old August keeps to herself--she's kind of cynical, she doesn't have a lot of friends, and she's holding true to form after her recent move to New York.
Her mother dedicated her life to searching for her own brother, who disappeared decades ago, and enlisted daughter August in her obsessive research and in her driven questioning of even the most tangentially connected potential contacts in order to try to find out what happened.
One Last Stop plays with time in a really fun, interesting way, and through the time-jump premise McQuiston's characters explore loyalty, love, connection, and heartbreak in poignant, funny, irresistible ways.
The book revels in wonderful LGBTQ love and tons of sexiness; fantastic New York-centric details; and enough musical references that multiple Spotify playlists exist that are inspired by the songs in the book.
For my full review of this book, check out One Last Stop.
02 The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell
In Lisa Maxwell's The Last Magician, a smart master thief bends time and finds her loyalties divided in turn-of-the-century New York.
I appreciated the character of Esta as a smart master thief who can bend time, and I loved the 1901 New York setting, Dolph Saunders as a kindly magical mobster, Viola as a lesbian tough girl (with a heart of gold!) who's a genius with knives, and Harte Darrigan as a stage (and actual) magician whose loyalties are difficult to pin down.
Add in the Brink as a method of controlling those with magic, the Book and its unclear powers, and the discriminatory, powerful, and dangerous Order and there's a steady, sinister underlying feel to the story.
I don't think it benefited me to listen to The Last Magician, the first in Maxwell's series, as an audiobook, what with the jumps through time; varied points of view; layered disloyalties, misdirections, and motivations; and the extensive double-crossing.
Some of the twists at the end felt implausible, but others wrapped up frustrating revelations in satisfying ways.
For my full review of this book, check out The Last Magician.
03 Lost in Time by A.G. Riddle
A.G. Riddle's time-travel story centers around reconciling the inability to change what has already occurred, but the necessity of doing so to save loved ones. With a twist!
When we created Absalom, we weren't trying to build a time machine. We were trying to build a machine that saved our families.
In A.G. Riddle's 450-page multiple-timeline story Lost in Time, a group of scientists have developed a device called Absalom. First intended to revolutionize shipping, its limitations and its vast possibilities lead to a new purpose: to send dangerous criminals back in time.
When Sam, one of the creators of the system, is framed for the murder of another creator, he finds himself about to be sent back in his own creation as punishment. But his physicist friends are determined to try to get him back to the present again somehow.
If only Sam had had time to do more than give himself a crash course in reading about the Triassic Period (weather, Pangea, dinosaur identification) or to hear his friends' ambitious plan for his return before being whisked back in time.
For my full review of this book, check out Lost in Time.
04 Wrong Place, Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister
Gillian McAllister offers a smart, intriguing, twisty story that plays with time and offers second chances, revelations, betrayals, deep connections, and an unusual route to uncovering the truth. I loved it.
Gillian McAllister's twisty mystery begins with a mother awaiting her teenage son's return home late one night. She peers out the window to see him walking down the street--then she sees that he is armed, and to her horror, she sees him kill another man on the street.
But when she awakens the next morning bracing to face the living nightmare her family has begun living in, she's relieved to find that her son hasn't killed anyone, he hasn't been arrested, and in fact, none of last night's events have happened after all. She must be losing her mind. But she knows that last night was real.
Somehow she's reliving yesterday again. Can she shift the future by changing the past?
Wrong Place, Wrong Time offers a smart, mind-bending structure that is complex and interesting but not difficult to follow. McAllister develops her characters fully and uses the time jumps wonderfully--to explore relationships, truth-telling and lies, assumptions, terrible realizations, and heartwarming reassurances.
For my full review of this book, check out Wrong Place, Wrong Time.
05 This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub
Straub offers a story that plays with time, explores sentimental moments, offers do-overs, and sweeps the reader into a love-filled, hopeful heartbreaker of a tale.
On the eve of her 40th birthday, Alice’s job, apartment, and love life are solidly okay. The only dark spot in her life is her father’s grave illness.
When she wakes up the next morning...it’s her 16th birthday again. And it isn't just that being in her teen body again shocks her, or that seeing her high school crush is jarring. It's incredible to see her healthy, vital, young dad.
This Time Tomorrow indulged my own personal desire for sentimentality, while also emphasizing the value of cutting to the heart of a situation without wasting time.
The story offers up lots of loving moments as well as perfectly imperfect decisions and mistakes. The story is heartbreaking and lovely in its ultimate insistence that one must let go of the past.
This was one of my favorite reads of the year last year.
For my full review of this book, please see This Time Tomorrow.
06 Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
In this nested story that spans centuries, Mandel explores a pandemic, moon colonization, the universal connection of music, the temptation to change the past, portals and time loops, loyalty, fear, love, and wonder.
In this science fiction novel, Mandel plays with time and time travel as well as mysteries surrounding what may be a portal linking individuals through time.
Mandel explores an emerging pandemic in a future with a colonized moon, considers the universal connection of music, and digs into the difficulty and danger in changing the past.
But all of these players and times feel in place mainly to serve as a structure to surround our true main protagonist, Gaspary, and we see the most depth and development and change; loyalty and love and grief; wonder and danger; resignation and hope in his portion of the story. This was where I was captivated and delighted and emotionally engaged.
This book appeared on the Greedy Reading List Six More Science Fiction Reads I Loved in the Past Year.