Time travel and secret societies are the kinds of things I would usually be cautious about in a book; reading them only after I’ve heard a lot about them. I like the magical elements to feel real. But, I decided to take a chance on this book, partly because I love time travel books if they are done well, and partly because, so far, the books I have read from Wolsak and Wynn, and the books featured on All Lit Up, haven’t let me down yet.
And, sure enough, Matt Cahill has written a fun, inventive novel about time travel and secret societies that had me guessing the whole way through. I had a lot of fun reading this book.
In the midst of the deep dark sinkhole Derrick finds himself in after his father’s death, the mysterious Society of Experience offers him a chance to take part in an experiment. The catch is that he can’t know about it unless he signs on. The experiment turns out to be pretty wacky and for a long time he feels like he’s being duped (“A part of me thinks I’m a born sucker. I may be right.”). We go along with him as he tries to figure out what is going on, whether or not any of this is real, and what any of it has to do with him.
… we involve our members by exposing them to situations that motivate them toward becoming better people through the agency of direct experience.
Realizing what I’d just signed and handed over, from every caution I’d heard growing up: if it’s too good to be true, it probably is… It probably was. And yet, despite it all, it still seemed more fun than reality.
The characters in this book are just as skeptical about what’s going on as we are as readers. Is it possible that it’s all just an elaborate deception? But, if so, to what purpose? If it is real, what could the repercussions be? What would happen if Derrick decides to break the rules of the society, test his limits? My first thought after finishing the book was crazy (a good crazy). Just go read it and see for yourself.
I thought the praise on the back of the book from Tony Burgess was right on: “Sly and slippery fun – I thought of Ben Marcus and J.G. Ballard… writers who say don’t worry I know what I’m doing as they break from the pack.”
Other good time travel books I have read: The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, 11/22/63 by Stephen King, and Time and Again by Jack Finney (I read this in high school and loved it. I wonder what I would think of it now. Has anyone read it recently?)
What are some of your favourite time travel books?
Thanks again to Wolsak and Wynn for providing me with a copy of this book!