Book Review: Time Waits by C.B. Lewis

Genre: Sci-Fi, LGBTQIA
Publishing Info: NineStar Press (2020)
Pages: 337

Publisher’s Summary:
On the run from his former allies in 1943, Janos Nagy’s life is turned upside down when he stumbles through a mysterious doorway and finds himself in the hands of the Temporal Research Institute, a covert organization that verifies historical events through time travel.

The year, he is told, is 2041. Wounded, exhausted and helpless, he’s in a time he doesn’t know and a world that has changed beyond his wildest imagination. Dieter Schmidt, one of the TRI linguists and historians, offers his aid in making sense of this strange new existence.

But Janos’s arrival has broken the TRI’s prime rule of non-interference. It’s not long until someone in the TRI decides that if the rule can be broken once… well, why not break it again?

Time Waits (NineStar Press, 2020)

My thanks for this review go to NineStar Press and NetGalley, for providing me with the Ebook version of this novel in return for an honest review.

The first book in C.B. Lewis’s Out of Time series had some powerful moments through the combination of an adult tone with its science-fiction genre but was let down by a half-baked middle and a threat that wasn’t present for a large portion of the novel.

The premise, of a time travelling operation going wrong and resulting in a WWII soldier moving forward in time a hundred years, was definitely what drew me to this novel. The opening few chapters gave me everything I was hoping for in mature science-fiction writing, as I have previously only experienced the genre through a Young Adult lens. A soldier is desperately trying to escape his captors, limbs rotting and failing him, before he steps through a door of light to a white room that is alien to him. By using very vivid description that didn’t shy away from highlighting blood, gore and bodily fluids, as well as sharp and emotionally-charged interactions between characters, the author provided that power and intensity and gave high expectations for the rest of the novel.

A large part of this novel is dedicated to the rehabilitation of said soldier, Janos, and his opening up as he discovers more about the strange new world he is in. Again, this was a great premise. All too often, science-fiction novels brush over the impact that travelling to a different time can have on the minds of the characters, but this book allows that to be explored. This approach also meant the character of Janos was highly developed, so that his arc throughout the novel felt like it was staying true to his character. Unfortunately, the balance of development is weighted more towards him than the other protagonist of the novel, Dieter. Other than a couple of revelations about his life that were quickly pushed aside, I never truly felt like I knew his character, with his slightly irritating personality and tendency to swear a lot. This was in spite of having both protagonists take it in terms to narrate a chapter, which was a good move on the part of the author. His arc did end up being strong at the end, but I found myself less involved in his character throughout.

In spite of the positive representation of Janos’s rehabilitation, the wider narrative as a whole was frustratingly slow. The author created a goldmine of a creative world in the shape of the Temporal Research Institute, only to leave it way too long to provide readers with any developments in the Institute, let alone see one of the characters travel in time. As a result, the developments occur and the readers are somewhat thrown, as barely any information was revealed about the missions that the Institute would sent people on, even though one of the protagonists actually works there. In the middle section, I even considered shunning the description of this book as a science-fiction one. It is a shame that the sections set in a different time zone were so few, because they were electric and quite intense in their grittier portrayal of the past. A more sustained presence of the Institute and their workings, even in the background, would have worked better than the all-or-nothing approach that made it to the pages.

The lack of action and intensity was made all the more frustrating when the pace and tone of the novel sunk and became quite murky. It was pleasing to see such a realistic and honest representation of LGBTQIA relationships and sexual intercourse make it to the pages of a science-fiction novel as I think that the genre isn’t quite there generally with creating solid characters that are not cisgender and heterosexual. The issue I have with this section of the novel is not how it is written or even how the characters are portrayed, but rather the frequency of sex scenes, which numbered three or four in thirty or forty pages. There was no great satisfaction in these scenes because it felt like it had occurred when the pacing and intensity of the narrative had completely dropped, rather than when the narrative tension had reached a high point. It is good to see a positive representation of LGBTQIA individuals in this book though.

Time Waits was a different beast than I expected from reading the premise. The electric and powerful chapters at the start and the close utilised the full potential of adult science-fiction books but sandwiched a narrative that, whilst included a good portrayal of LGBTQIA individuals and an investigation into the psychological trauma from warfare, lacked punch and underused its brilliant premise until it was too late. The world that the author has created for this novel is intriguing so I may read future titles in the series.

Star Rating: ☆☆☆

Did you enjoy Time Waits if you have read this book? Leave me your thoughts on this novel, as well as any book recommendations you have, in the comments section below. Please also like this post and subscribe to The Blogging DJ to get notified via email when new posts are published.

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