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Hazards of Time Travel by Joyce Carol Oates

Hazards of Time Travel

by Joyce Carol Oates

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955185,980 (3.47)6
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Showing 5 of 5
Ok....but story was a bit jumbled; good characters; clever idea for a story ( )
  JosephKing6602 | Jan 20, 2019 |
The quality of the language and its flow save this read from disaster. The parallels with the self-repressions of 1959-1960 and the state repressions of the 2010s is good, but for a book which discusses free-will there is nothing but ambiguity to be found. ( )
  quondame | Jan 11, 2019 |
Not at all good

If you or I had written this book it would never have been published. Ms Oates, writing outside her usual territory, wanders into the mist, doing not much more than retelling her 1950s college years without actually writing a story.

I received a review copy of "Hazards of Time Travel" by Joyce Carol Oates (HarperCollins UK) through NetGalley.com. ( )
  Dokfintong | Dec 11, 2018 |
In a future New Jersey where behavior and thinking is tightly controlled, and people are labeled by their loyalty and skin color, an idealistic young woman, valedictorian of her class, writes a seemingly innocent graduation speech consisting only of questions. At rehearsal, Adrianne is very publicly arrested, subsequently tortured and “exiled” back in time to 1959 Wainscotia, Wisconsin. She is told that she has a chip in her brain to prevent further infractions, and that they are else wise monitoring her. She is allowed to go to university here; her name is now Mary Ellen, and she is forbidden to discuss her previous life.

Mary Ellen must adjust to the wonders and horrors of a pre-digital age (and here I can imagine the fun that JCO, who was born in ’38, had in recreating the 1959 university scene, complete with typewriters, paper books, and sweater sets). In her isolation and loneliness, she becomes romantically infatuated with a young assistant professor of psychology named Ira Wolfman and imagines he is also another exile from the future. It is this infatuation that drives much of the last half of the book.

This is the age of B. F. Skinner and his theories about human behavior, which he called “radical behaviorism.” There is much in the book about Skinner and the various “current” theories of human behavior. The reader can imagine perhaps how the alternate future might come about and how our heroine and others are being controlled (rats in a maze.…etc.) Wolfman probably gets his name from a famous patient of Freud’s (as has been noted to me) but first thoughts were of the wolf of fairytales (Angela Carter’s work came to mind).

I am both a fan of JCO’s work, and of dystopias—and have read much of both. And while I raced through this book I was ultimately disappointed. Where my expectations too high? Perhaps. The “exquisitely wrought love story” as the book’s jacket describes it, is a young woman’s over-hyped infatuation. In the end I thought the book didn’t know what it wanted to be, and I was unsure of its message — better to live in the “now” wherever that may be? There are far better JCO novels, and far better dystopian novels to read, but see what you think. ( )
  avaland | Dec 11, 2018 |
Hazards of Time Travel by Joyce Carol Oates is a recommended dystopian novel about a totalitarian regime where being sent back in time is a punishment.

Adriane Strohl is named valedictorian of her high school class, even after others tried to tell her that it is better to not stand out in the current political environment. When she practices her speech, which consists of questions, she is arrested, charged with Treason and Questioning of Authority, and punished by being sent to college. The college she is sent to is in Wainscotia, Wisconsin, and the time is in 1959, eighty years in the past. She is given a new name, Mary Ellen Enright, and has a chip implanted in her brain to ensure her cooperation and loss of past memories. The opening of the novel lists the rules and constraints Adriane is under for the time she is sentenced for rehabilitation. Obviously she should know that it could be dangerous when she becomes obsessed with and tries to talk to Dr. Ira Wolfman, a psychology professor. She is sure that he has also been sentenced to exile in 1959 Wainscotia.

Oates has created an interesting dystopian world, but, in my opinion, it certainly reads like a Young Adult novel and is not as well-imagined or well-developed as other adult dystopian novels out there. It falls a bit short of making the political statement that Oates' desires. Adriane's paranoia and struggle to try to remember who she was before feels realistic, as does her inability to fit into 1959. In many ways it feels like this novel was rushed to publication as a political statement. It might have had a chance to make a bigger impact if more time was spent making it a better, more complete statement. There is one part which occurs later in the novel that was startling and elevated the novel above the ordinary - a bit - which is the basis for my three stars. The conclusion is enigmatic, in relationship to the information the reader has about Adriane's punishment.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Harper Collins.
http://www.shetreadssoftly.com/2018/11/hazards-of-time-travel.html ( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Nov 14, 2018 |
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