Ex-soldier and YouTube star Hugh Stanton has nothing left to live for when he is offered the change of a lifetime. If there was one thing in history you could change, what would it be? Academics at Cambridge have unearthed a box containing Newton’s most startling discovery, a moment in time and space that bends back on itself, back to June 1914. The perfect moment to avert the 20th century’s worst tragedies.

The premise is an interesting one; can you go back in time and prevent the suffering of millions? Hugh’s target is the First World War, understandably an event with triggered a snowball effect across the world. If he can prevent the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and stop his warmongering uncle, the Kaiser of Germany, from stirring trouble, will the future be different? Is one event really the cause of so much pain?

I found the sections about the history, especially the assassination in Sarajevo, the most fascinating parts. However it failed in the execution of the story and the unrealistic characters. Well, maybe I just disliked Hugh in a way that wasn’t interesting. Sometimes you get characters you don’t like but they are stilling compelling to read about. Hugh was not such a character, he was just a bit of a nob.

It’s a contender for the Bad Sex Awards too. Don’t start me on the fact that he’s grieving for the loss of his wife and kids from only one year ago…but he’s soon diving into bed and falling in love in the past. And halfway through the sex scene he stops to wonder if he should feel guilty. But it’s OK, the woman he’s with says it’s what his wife would have wanted and off they go again. Plus there’s an extensive paragraph going on about how she has pubes and comparing her to the modern woman. How romantic.

I’m sure it’s a decent read for the kind of book it is (men’s commercial fiction) but it’s all action no emotion. At times it even seemed to mock the kind of book it is. Hugh’s a kind of working class Bear Grylls, well-educated but rather bitter about his peers having had better chances at life. I’m not sure if he was aiming at serious or tongue in cheek really. The whole thing comes across as mildly ridiculous.

The last few chapters picked up a bit, although were very rushed, and it has a thought-provoking message at the centre. Anyway, I would prefer to go on and read more about the start of the First World War. I read this for book group otherwise I definitely would have put it down. Just not my cup of tea at all.

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Also reviewed @ For Winter Nights

Book Source: Purchased