Where did this story go wrong? No likable characters and no high stakes. Heather, Kin’s wife, was a tall, thin, red haired, star trek loving tax attorney. Penny, his fiancee from the future, was a chef… who loved cats. Kin, well, Kin was just all over the place really. Marcus, Kin’s friend, just seemed to pop in and out whenever the plot needed moving. And Miranda, Kin’s daughter, was supposed to seem in someway important, but came across as a forced plot point. See how I only know purely superficial facts about the main characters? None of them became real. They didn’t jump off of the page. Reading this book was like watching an ‘ok’ made-for-TV-movie as opposed to entering a new world. The only reason I was able to get through it so quickly was because I was forcing myself onto the next page in hopes that the stakes would get higher, or the characters more relatable, or at the plot more enjoyable. None of those things happened.
Heather’s death? Tame. Miranda’s downward spiral after the disappearance/death of both of her parents? Typical. Penny’s readiness to always forgive, no matter what non-sensical thing Kin did? Unrealistic. And the way deaths and life changes are just glossed over? Annoying to the point of mental disengagement.
In all honesty, this book reads more like a contemporary novel set in the future, than an actual science fiction story. That’s not a bad thing, but I was expecting something a little more… exciting. There was nothing thrilling about it, nothing that made me root for any of the characters. Conflict and tension were lacking in this book because the stakes were too low. There was just no fight.
Why didn’t Kin try harder to stay in the 21st century with his family? Why wasn’t he at some point forced to choose between Heather, the woman he’d spent his life with, and Penny, the woman he had promised to? He loved Heather, the mother of his child, so he should have fought harder to stay with her. Why did Miranda have to follow the ‘typical’ set of pitfalls that parentless children are perceived to be shallowed up by? She had Kin’s notes after all, so why didn’t she build her own time machine? She could have went looking for him in the future and messed something up in the process. Or even became the heartless, kick butt, time traveling assassin that the organization Kin worked for would have been hunting down… only worse. But no cool villain backstory for her. She became a jail sentenced drug addict in one possible future, and a video game developer in another.
Plot aside, the characters came across as fillers more than people. Both Heather’s and Penny’s voices are written as if their very creation was an afterthought. Yes, we spend the book seeing the world through Kin’s eyes, but the author gave no reason as to why either woman would love him. At least he cooked for Heather, but Kin offered nothing of value to Penny. At most points in the book, Kin seemed, at the least, mildly indifferent towards her and at the most, completely dismissive. And the way that Penny doggedly acquiesced to his every excuse/lie/whim only made her come off as a gullible, desperate, unaware caricature of a girlfriend. If my husband woke up calling me by another woman’s name, hallucinations or not, I’d want details. Penny just seemed to except everything as it is without any or at least very few questions. And Heather’s death conveniently freeing Kin of any romantic ties to the past so that he could be with Penny was such an obvious plot point mover. Granted, every story has to have plot point mover within it or they’d never get anywhere, but the key is that they are not supposed to be glaringly evident to reader. Nothing about this book bred a sense urgency within the reader and because of that, for me, it fell flat.