How to Stop Time

Not too deep into reading Matt Haig’s How To Stop Time I figured it all out. This is Highlander, man. I mean, without the swords, and the Quickening, and the Prize, and the Kurgan. In this literary instance, the story is not dealing with immortals from Zeist (Right? What? Oh nevermind…) but rather long-lived humans who age at about a ratio of one year for every fifteen, and follows a thousand-year-old geezer named Hendrich (not Ramirez) who doesn’t look to train others, opting instead to unionize and hide. But yeah, Highlander. And in missing the sword-play and haggis recipes, man, this is rather dull.

How to Stop Time book reviewHaig, perhaps, might not take offense at that last sentence as he deliberately shows, through the life of 439-year-old Tom Hazard, that life without end can be dull and slow and repetitive. Fortunately, the book is a fast, entertaining read. Haig gives life and passion to Hazard, who is slowly realizing that he can perhaps fall in love again, which goes against the rules of the Albatross Society, of which he and other long-lived ones survive under the always-watching Hendrich.

Using a tried-and-true Highlander technique, the narrative within How To Stop Time flashes between periods of Tom’s long life from his more-interesting past to present-day London, where not much happens other than internal, and sometime eternal, debate; the narrative suffers as a result.

The issue with How To Stop Time is that there is no prize to be won, only self-fulfillment, and even that comes by way of a simply-obtained climax making the novel ironically run out of time and leaving plenty of unanswered questions, particularly regarding the future of the Albatross. Hazard, through Haig, seems content in focusing on the personal nature of the future. Haig’s words save the day as he truly brings forth meaning and life through well-constructed illustrations and thoughtful character play building Hazard into a likable, relatable chap who steps up in answering the who wants to live forever question in a quiet, surrendering way. Admittedly, adding in a few sword fights could have been fun.

There shall only be one NetGalley, who provided this ARC in return for a silly review. Thanks as well to Viking for the timeless read.

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