The library didn’t have the book I wanted, so I picked up How To Stop Time instead. I started reading a Matt Haig novel before, The Humans, but for some reason it didn’t work for me. I can’t remember what it was as it was so long ago, but I’m glad I gave the author another try.
The story's about a man named Tom who has a condition which means he doesn’t age like the rest of us. His ageing process is very slow, taking hundreds of years and as such he’s been alive for a very long time.
The novel works in alternate chapters, some set in the past, like the time period when he knew Shakespeare and met his first and only love, Rose. Other chapters are set in the present, where he’s living a new life as a history teacher in London. As you would have probably gathered Tom is an excellent history teacher as he’s actually witnessed the events he teaches his students about, although he can’t tell them that.
There’s another story which weaves it’s way through the narrative and that is Tom searching for his long lost daughter who also has his condition and ages at a slower rate. Mixed up with this is a society which deals with his kind and organises for them to take on a new identity every eight years when suspicions begin to mount concerning their lack of ageing.
The story was good fun, being a fantasy-laced contemporary. Mostly it was plot-driven which is where it fell a little flat for me. I’m the kind-of reader who loves a good dose of character with my plot and I felt this was a bit lacking. While we got to know extensively about Tom’s life, he remained a bit of an enigma for me and as such wasn’t fully formed. There was also a good bit more telling than showing for my taste, as well.
How To Stop Time was a love story at its core, with a solid understanding of the human condition. While I did enjoy it, all the elements weren’t there for me. Saying that, I can definitely see myself reading more from this author as his stories have a fun-factor which I really enjoyed.