Friday, October 7, 2011

Q: A Novel by Evan Mandery

Shortly before his wedding, the unnamed protagonist is visited by his future self and is told, in no uncertain terms, that he must not marry the love of his life: Q. At first doubtful, but finally convinced, the narrator breaks off his engagement and tries to find a new path. He's helped along the way by other future versions of himself, versions that have lived the life he has now chosen and who try to help him pick a better life. After living out their (or really, his) suggestions, the protagonist reflects on the life he's led. Was it really better this way? Does knowing your future mean it should be altered, and if you change it, will that really make it better?

Q is an interesting (and from what I can tell, original) take on time travel literature. At once philosophical, it is also a heartbreaking love story that transcends time. It deals with the age-old question, "If I could go back and do it all over again, would I?"

I loved the storyline and plot. I thought it was well-written and an exceedingly great idea for a story. But it wasn't perfect. Mandery seems to have a general dislike of contractions and uses them sparingly. This can make the dialogue seem a bit forced and unnatural. Also, the protagonist appeared to be very unperturbed by the fact that he was face to face with his future self. Time travel is still a very sci-fi concept, but he seemed to accept the inevitability of it not only being discovered, but that he would use it as a means to re-structure his life. Personally, I would have freaked out a little bit more.

Finally, the narrator is himself a writer, and we are given snippets of his works. Sometimes an entire chapter of the book would be a chapter from one of his novels. I couldn't see much point in this other than Mandery trying to show how the protagonist's writing was directly influenced by his personal life. If there's a deeper meaning to this, I didn't get it and I felt it could have been omitted. There were, however, some very funny parts to the novel which counteracted the seemingly unnecessary ones.

Overall, an original and well-written novel that will leave you with a smile on your face. 4 out of 5 stars.

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