Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Permafrost

Permafrost

Permafrost was a trip! I've been reading a lot of time travel stuff lately- I just love how twisty and out there time travel can be- and this one is up there among recent favorites. The protagonist is a seventy-one year old teacher named Valentina, from rural Siberia, and she gets pulled into the story mainly because her mother, a famous mathematician, basically invented time travel. The year is 2080 and others have taken her work and applied it to the challenge of saving the world after a event called the Scouring, which caused most life on earth to die. 

Valentina agrees to join the program, based out of a remote base in the Arctic Circle called Permafrost, and when she goes back in time she finds herself linked with a host named Tatiana. Her host has just had brain surgery and is recovering, and imagine her surprise when someone takes over her body and starts doing all this weird stuff. Valentina, for her part, is shocked to discover that she can hear Tatiana in her thoughts- they are essentially sharing Tatiana's body- and Tatiana even gets glimpses of the future in 2080. Definitely not something the time travelers foresaw! 

I absolutely loved the dynamic between Val and Tatiana. It's so snarky and fun, and honestly saves a story that might have been thrilling but otherwise maybe a little too dense. By dense I mean not slow or boring, but this is a story that leans into the science aspect of time travel a bit. Not so much that it affects the story- if anything, I thought that the author very skillfully weaved the worldbuilding and science aspects into the action very well- but nevertheless this could have been a bit dry without the humor. 

There's a chilling scene where they're talking paradoxes and a concept called "grandfathering," where changes made in the future ripple back and change the present, and Val's memory literally changes as the timeline is affected. Val literally goes from knowing "x" is an indisputable fact- after all, she just witnessed it- and then "y" happens and over a course of a few minutes she feels her perception of "x" slipping away. Shortly after that it's like "y" has always been the default. Kinda terrifying!   

Also the cause of the apocalypse was refreshingly plausible and interesting. It's a mix of environmental and biological disaster, and anyone who is worried about things like the dying off of bees, or the disappearance of frogs and other amphibians (things that have been in the news the last few years) may get a chill reading about just how bad that could get. There's a sense that once you open the time travel box you may not be able to control it. What if other parties take the progress you've made and start to undo what you've done? I can't say anymore but if you love time travel, or just a twisty story, this is a keeper. 

24 comments:

  1. This sounds deliciously twisted! I love a story that keeps you on your toes. Time travel isn't typically my thing, but you've piqued my interest. Also, if you enjoy time travel, you HAVE to watch The Umbrella Academy!!

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear? 💬

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    1. It is WAY twisted! I highly recommend it. Would love to see what you think. And I've been hearing so much about that show!

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  2. Love the sound of this one.

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  3. The science of time travel so not my favourite in books like these, but I like the melding of Val and Tatiana -- they sound like engaging characters that make the science bits bearable.

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    1. Val and Tatiana- the way they have to share bodies- that was unforeseen, at least in the sense that I don't think they were supposed to be able to TALk to each other!

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  4. I like the sound of the humour in this one although time travel can be very hit or miss for me.
    Lynn :D

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  5. This sounds complex but very well done, which cannot be said for all complex time travel stories😁

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    1. Very true. It is a little complex but the humor saves it, I think from being heavy- and also this is a novella, which I neglected to mention.

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  6. Sometimes I have problems with time travel because anything can be undone - so I start to not trust any outcome. But then I really liked it in the Netflix series The Umbrella Academy so I guess it depends on if the characters grab my attention.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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    1. This book is very twisty and really gives a sense of- what would happen if multiple people could go back? What if someone came after you? lol

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  7. This does sound like a trip! Time travel books are always a lot of fun.

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  8. What a fantastic setting for a time travel book! I can see how it would be quite an exciting read. Glad that it was so enjoyable for you. I will have to check it out as well. :)

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  9. I cannot resist time travel stories, and even though I never understand it, the science-y stuff in this one sounds so cool!

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  10. I really need to read this ASAP. I mean, obviously the whole premise is intriguing from the start, but I extra love that the characters make it a little lighter. Aaaannnnd I just bought it because of course I did.

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  11. This sounds really cool! I'm always on the lookout for good time travel stories so will definitely keep this book in mind. Great review!

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  12. The title caught my attention but reading on it might be a bit too sciencey and slow for me I think. Pity! I was hoping for snow beasts!

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  13. Time travel stuff can always be cool and I love it when the apocolypse reasoning is pretty plausible. Great review!

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  14. What an interesting sounding book. Everyone loves a good time travel book and I love the sound of this one being a twisty read. I'll have to add this to my list.

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  15. Yay for a good time travel book! They actually take over another body when they travel?? That's different! I've never read a time travel book like that. And that's cool that the author took into consideration how the future would change and so the memories would change and all that. Sounds interesting.

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  16. I am glad to know the humor was so included in that case if you think it was a good balance to the intense world building. As someone who loves all the world building and science-y side of things, I think I am going to love this one. And I have been on the look out for more science fiction lately as well :)

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  17. Have you read anything else by Reynolds? I love the man's books. And I can't wait to get to this. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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