I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Time Salvager by Wesley Chu
Series: Time Salvager #1
Published by Tor on 7th July 2015
Genres: Fiction, Science fiction
Convicted criminal James Griffin-Mars is no one’s hero. In his time, Earth is a toxic, abandoned world and humans have fled into the outer solar system to survive, eking out a fragile, doomed existence among the other planets and their moons. Those responsible for delaying humanity’s demise believe time travel holds the key, and they have identified James, troubled though he is, as one of a select and expendable few ideally suited for the most dangerous job in history.
James is a chronman, undertaking missions into Earth's past to recover resources and treasure without altering the timeline. The laws governing use of time travel are absolute; break any one of them and, one way or another, your life is over. Most chronmen never reach old age; the stress of each jump through time, compounded by the risk to themselves and to the future, means that many chronmen rapidly reach their breaking point, and James Griffin-Mars is nearing his.
On a final mission that is to secure his retirement, James meets Elise Kim, an intriguing scientist from a previous century, who is fated to die during the destruction of an oceanic rig. Against his training and his common sense, and in violation of the chronmen’s highest law, James brings Elise back to the future with him, saving her life, but turning them both into fugitives. Remaining free means losing themselves in the wild and poisonous wastes of Earth, somehow finding allies, and perhaps discovering what hope may yet remain for humanity's home world.
How do I review Time Salvager? Well I know there’s one thing I can say: this book swept me away, completely and utterly.
The basic premise is that, by the 26th century, the Earth is toxic, a wasteland. Thanks to humanity, it has been pretty much destroyed. Within this future is a company called ChronoCom, who employs ‘Chronmen’. These Chronmen travel back in time in order to retrieve important things – technology, documents, natural resources – but never people. That is, until the protagonist James decides to rescue a scientist from an exploding research base, bringing her from the 21st century to the 26th. That’s when things get messy.
Elise, the scientist that James brings back with him, is ripped from a time where mankind is finally fighting its wrongs – with peace, medicine, etc – and placed in one that feels like it could almost be the past, not the future. The Earth she knows and loves has been ravaged, and is now covered in pollution and smog. I really liked Elise, she was intelligent and quickly adjusted to this new time period. She was a wonderful contrast to James. And speaking of James, it was nice to have a flawed protagonist. No-one is perfect.
From the very first page, I was gripped. I’m a big fan of time travel in books, film and television, especially when it involves travelling BACK in time, rather than just forward. Sometimes it’s hard to pull off. Sometimes the author feels the need to overexplain. Chu doesn’t explain one bit how time travel works in this universe, and to me, that didn’t matter. Everything felt so established: ChronoCom, the Time Laws, James’ slow spiral downwards, that I didn’t really feel a need to know how the time travel worked. It just did.
This was a book that made me want to do nothing but sit down and read it for long periods of time, and it’s been a while since I’ve felt like that, thanks to my studies. The last few chapters were incredibly tense, and the ending was very open, allowing the reader to make their mind up about what happened.
Time Salvager feels like the sort of science fiction I’ve been yearning for. To me, it is on par with greats such as Hyperion and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. It’s clever, it’s fast, it’s action-packed, but it also carries a message. And most of all: it is DEFINITELY worth your time.
Also, below you can find a sample of the Time Salvager audiobook!