Saturday, June 30, 2018

Book Review: The Beyond Now Device by Mark Hollock

Media Type: Ebook
Title: The Beyond Now Device
Author: Mark Hollock
Publisher: Mark Hollock
Pages: Ebook; 338
Release Date: January 15, 2018
Source: Author
Genre: Speculative Fiction

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy books that really explore our place in time and space.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon
We are all fated to die and the earth will continue to circle the sun. Of this, we can be sure. Yet when four people sharing an apartment happen upon a device that transports them three weeks into the future, they care less about the grand scheme and more about their own lives in the time to come. During their brief episodes they are cast as key players in a crime. One will grow physically attracted to the man she is to blackmail, annoying her boyfriend. One will fire two bullets into the chest of an attorney he doesn't know, growing to like the power of the gun, while his friend tries her best to stop him.

Both wanting and not wanting the seen future to unfold, they contact the maker of the device who is convinced only a true understanding of time will help them. From Plato to quantum physics, religion to common sense, immediacy and anticipation to the gravity of elephants, the maker expresses time from a variety of perspectives.

The author solicited help through email correspondence with graduate students and professors at major universities in the departments of physics, philosophy, and theology to enrich the characters' evaluation of free will at odds with determinism as they try to control their futures and answer the question 'Does the future already exist?'

Realizing that physics, philosophy, and theology hold no consensus on the nature of time, or on the existence of the future, the characters' day of destiny arrives, affirming and refuting the power of choice to smooth the road beyond now.

Before I get into the grit of this review, I have to share that Mark Hollock's book falls outside the norm of what I generally read. I've been attempting to branch out into more speculative and science fiction, and get lost in stories that really make me think about our world. I can tell you, The Beyond Now Device definitely fits that bill. This is a book that takes a hard look at how we fit into the "now" that we inhabit, and how the past makes us who we are. I found myself fully immersed in the lives of the characters, as they tried to find out how their actions really affected the future, and I'll admit it was a little jarring. So take my review with a grain of salt, because I'll be the first one to honestly say that this isn't my general cup of tea.

On the positive side of things, I thought the characters in this book were really well drawn. They each felt like whole individuals, and watching them interact with one another was like watching real life unfold. As I grew to know them better, and understood their quirks, I realized how well their personalities played off of one another. The four main characters are as diverse as any reader could ask for, and I loved watching them interact. It was a pleasure to read a book that contained real people, and their real flaws.

What I could have done without, and kept me really enjoying this book as much as I wanted to, was the use of Niko and his creation as a plot device. While the actual movements forward in time were interesting and vital to the story, the device that created those movements felt forced. That, and Niko as a driver of the story felt even more forced. His brief appearances felt like mini info dumps instead of blending in with the overall story. I just wanted the characters to have to figure things out themselves. Watching time creep ever closer to the events that they had experienced through the device, and watching them try to figure out how to change things, was fascinating. Such clever characters, with such human flaws. It was great.

My only other issue with this book, and it is a small one, was the fact that the actual device itself is never really explained. I know that this book is more in the speculative, rather than science, fiction realm. However I couldn't help but feel like I'd missed out on an opportunity to really understand how the "time travel" really took place. Granted, the focus here is on the idea of time/space and our place in it. My inquisitive mind wouldn't let that small hole go though, and it bothers me even as I write this.

Overall though, I though that The Beyond Now Device was a pretty solid book. There were portions that felt a little slow, or a little forced, but the concept was fascinating and the characters were great. Anyone going into this book should keep in mind that this is a very character heavy book. If that's your type of read, you'll enjoy this too.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.


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