Here and Now and Then ~ Mike Chen

Here and Now and Then

Rating: 3.5/5

The introduction to this novel reveals Kin Stewart to be an agent working for a top secret corporation who has gotten himself into trouble back in the year 2014. A mission gone awry, he has lost control of the situation and his memories, and years later believes himself to be an everyday family man who works for I.T. Headaches and his limited memory about the past have come back to haunt him, and his reaction to the memories is damaging his relationship with his wife and daughter.

This book spans centuries, jumping between 2142 and 2014 throughout the course of the book. Chen’s writing strikes me initially as detailed but not something I could invest myself in, but over time I found myself getting to know the characters, their hopes, dreams, and fears, far better than I would have expected. By the time Chen draws their story to a close, I found myself wanting to spend more time with them and see how their lives played out.

The initial distant feeling of the characters never fully went away through the course of the book. At times when I would have liked more character development, I feel like Chen moved too quickly through scenes, cutting to action where there could have been more. I am partial to character driven novels, so this was somewhat off-putting for me, but if you’re fascinated by the more technical, ethical, or philosophical sides of time travel, there was plenty of exploration to be had.

The other slightly odd thing about this book was that it felt as though Kin’s story came to a close after his return and eventual settling in back in the year 2142, when in fact things were only just beginning to ramp up. There was a surprisingly long lull between his daily life and interactions and when the final major problem came to a climax. However, this lull provided readers plenty of time to get to know the character’s personal struggles, perhaps a bit too well. Kin and Penny (his 2142 fiance) struggled onward in an uncomfortable state for quite a while between their dinner party and Kin deciding to take further action.

The overall pacing of this book was very spot on, and although at times I felt it dragging or there not being enough character development, the story as a whole compelled me to keep reading, to keep finding out what would happen next. I never felt sure of the outcome of this book, just a sense of dread that Kin’s plans would fall through. I was desperate for him to have it work out, where he could find peace with himself and Penny, and also leave things feeling good with Miranda, his daughter. I loved trying to reason out the ethics and the philosophy behind this story, and I thoroughly appreciated how Chen played with the future in ways that blur the lines between speculative and plausible reality. All in all, I would recommend this book to someone looking for a techy science fiction read.

I received a copy of this book through the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

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