How to Stop Time by Matt Haig
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Book supplied by Netgalley for an honest review.
I’ve read a few books recently where the tone or the style changes partway through, and typically when this happens, those changes aren’t for the better. Matt Haig’s How To Stop Time falls into this category.
The first two-thirds were excellent. The story, a historical romance with a science-fiction twist, was written so perfectly that everything was credible. The writing was crisp, the dialogue natural and the themes thought provoking. The historical sections were beautiful, little details made those eras come alive. Very few books have made me well-up, a notable other is a good comparison for this novel – Audrey Niffenegger’s Time Traveller’s Wife, one of my favourite books. Both deal with time, and both deal with far-fetched themes, but the writing in both is so good and so well delivered, that only the hard-hearted would shine a light on their faults.
The only trouble with How To Stop Time is that the final third appears rushed. The buildup was slow and masterful, hooks were placed and characters formed, but the climax didn’t fit the rest of the story. I felt like I was reading the screen adaption of the book, where details are omitted for brevity, where loose-ends are tolerated because limited screen time requires tidy endings, and where characters behave in different ways. This is a shame, since with a bit more planning and care, with the finesse shown in the first part, this could’ve been a classic on the scale of the Time Traveller’s Wife.
Because of the weak ending, this doesn’t deserve a 5/5 rating, though it deserves better than a 4. So 4.5, and I’m generous and always round up!