Parental Advisory: I’m opining an ERSB Rating of PG-13 on this book for profanity, sexual references, graphic images, and violence.
I’m giving it a quality rating of 4 stars, but only because it’s more earth-bound than the 5-star rating I reserve for books floating around in the troposphere alongside the likes of “David Copperfield”, “Huck Finn”, “The Time Machine”, and “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe”
It’s been awhile since I’ve taken the Time to sit down and read a contemporary novel. Even longer for one of the Young Adult ilk. My fiction staple usually hovers around the classics with authors like Dickens, Twain, H. G. Wells, and C.S. Lewis. But, as a favor to a blogger friend, I snagged a copy of “Time to Lie” by Phil Taylor and dove headfirst into the ephemeral clouds of Time. And while it’s no Wells masterpiece, I enjoyed it exceedingly.
I wasn’t too many pages in before I realized it was going to be a favorite of mine. I love pop culture references — that’s why Psych and Gilmore Girls are a couple of my favorite TV shows — and Phil makes full use of this literary device. But pop culture references aren’t all this book has as far as references to favorites of mine. It is much more diverse than that. Here are a few more examples of references to some of my favorite things:
- Movie — “Back to the Future”
- Movie — Karate Kid (sometimes subtle, like in a mention of Parsippany, but usually overt)
- Book – “Blink”, by Malcolm Gladwell
- Genre – Sci-fi
- Sub-Genre – time travel, (but with a unique twist)
- TV Shows — Warehouse 13, Star Trek, and Dr. Who among others that I really don’t know very well.
- Reading Category – Young Adult
- Literary Voice — informal, casual
- Literary Style — humorous, comedic
With so many early nods to so many of my personal favorites, with the promise of so many more to come, and coupled with a unique twist on the time travel genre, there was little question that “Time to Lie” would become one of my all-time favorite contemporary YA novels.
- “Time to Lie” starts out like many Young Adult novels, with immediate action, conflict, romance, and mystery. However, about halfway through chapter 4 it adds a surprising twist and from then on I couldn’t put it down.
- The develpment of the main character,Landon Bridges, is very strong with compelling traits, an unusual name, an intriguing backstory, intense internal conflict, and the fascinating discovery of a mighty physical attribute he didn’t even know he had.
- All of the characters are well-drawn, believable, likeable (even the villain has some redeeming moments) and substantial.
- The unique twist on how time-travel is possible makes it more than just another time-travel story. What’s the twist? Let’s just say that it’s not what you would normally think of as the requisite time-traveling machine — or mechanism — and that, whether Phil knew it or not, it’s a nod to a Warehouse 13 episode.
- Comedy is interspersed throughout the novel. Here’s three of my faves: 1) With a middle name of Joe, Landon was “partially named after a lunkhead football player who probably thought atomic mass was some sort of religious ceremony.” 2) When Landon was young, his dachshund carried a lit candle around the house leaving little fires everywhere and then later became the firehouse mascot (instead of a Dalmatian!). 3) As for the love interest in the story, “it was chemistry that finally brought (them) together. No, not the romantic kind of chemistry. (They) were both taking Chem 100.”
- “Time to Lie” may not be “Huck Finn” in literary quuality, but a couple of symbols still jump out. Stairs always seem to be a part of the scene whenever the level of intensity in the circumstances of Landon’s life are being ratcheted up. Also, elevators show up several times as harbingers of a major revelation effected by his time travel. (Reminds me of elevators in the time-travel movie “Kate and Leopold”.)
- There are also some strong themes in the book. Time travel, of course, and whether its wise to try and change our fates, but also the need to be honest with ourselves or else truth just becomes whatever “lie you’ve chosen to believe”. Another theme deals with the difficulty children often have with a parent’s remarriage. “My mother broke my heart by trying to refill hers,” Landon says at one point, then later points out that “in my mind, my mom chose Archie over me.”
- Phil also does a great job of raising questions early on, then doling out the answers little by little to keep the reader engaged, propelling them forward all the way to the end of book.
- And finally, there are several surprising twists as the plot unfolds… but I won’t spoil them here.
- It gets a little too heavy on the bldprofanity/ at times, at least for my tastes. However, in all fairness, I should point out that it is a necessary element of Landon’s character development, so, for the most part, I was able to overlook it.
- Lastly, there seemed to be a couple of minor plot holes. Nothing distracting, by any means. And to be honest, I’m really not sure about this since I only read through it once. I might have missed the answers because there is often so much going on they would have been easy to overlook. On the other hand, maybe that’s what the sequel is for!
So do I recommend “Time to Lie”? Absolutely. I found that the positives far outweighed the negatives. If you’re interested in Young Adult thrillers and don’t mind a little profanity, then it is a great read and well worth your Time…
And that’s no Lie.