Time Travel sounds like fun, well that's what most people think before they embark on a jaunt through the timelines. Jump back in time and accidentally step on a flower and what do you know, a half-mad celeb is in charge of the US. Go forward in time and run the risk of being captured by a race of underground dwelling troglodytes. Trust me time travel is not a good idea, and no matter what the face changing so called Dr tells you don't do it.
Daniel Faint, the protagonist of Tim Major's You Don't Belong Here, should have heeded my warnings. You see Daniel is not just a dabbler in time travel; he is a thief who stole a time machine and decided to take a job as a house sitter in a remote Cumbrian village while he figures out how to use the machine.
However he faces a few problems, the time machine can only work in a forward time direction, and every time he uses it he suffers a blackout, people start recognising him who he doesn't now, and someone seems to be watching him from the shadows. Can Daniel get his life back on track and rest his personal timeline, so he has the life he wants.
Time Travel stories are to science fiction as Haunted House stories are to horror. Almost everyone has done one, and in the vast majority of cases, nothing new is ever said or explored in any great depth. They may be well written, but once you have read the keynote texts in the genre, there is in general very little to be gained from reading yet another one.
While You Don't Belong Here may contain many of the elements that are prevalent in time travel stories Major has crafted a fresh and intriguing novel that brings something new to this well-worn genre trope.
You Don't Belong Here is a demanding novel, but one that ultimately rewards the reader for their patience and concentration. Major's almost languid writing style that reminds me of a Humphrey Bogart noir thriller. Major takes him time with the plot, and the narrative reveals allowing the reader to become invested in daniel's plight. This in turns makes it possible to understand and at a push root for him, he might not be a classic hero, and he certainly isn't a time honoured good man, but he is a man who is trying to change his life, more akin to a weak man caught up in a time Tsunami. And this the main strength of the novel, it is so easy to have a likeable "hero" and grab the readers attention; however, it takes a great writer to make a character who is so intrinsically flawed As Daniel into a person that the reader can connect with on a base level.
The novel's pacing and pitch are perfect; it allows Major maintain an air of mystery and suspense, while still keeping the action flowing and the characters to breath. As said earlier this is book that requires your full attention Major drops in hints and teasers to what is really going on. You need to pay attention, but at no time does the story feel like it is dragging, and it never becomes a slog, and when it becomes clear as to what is going on you will be rewarded with a great sense of satisfaction for reading this innovative and clever novel.
You Don't Belong Here is a novel that dares to do something different with a well-worn concept, an intelligent idea carried off with great success, in years to come when people talk about great and influential time travel novels, this is one that should be mentioned along with the greats of the genre.
Daniel Faint is on the run with a stolen time machine.
As the house-sitter of a remote Cumbrian mansion, he hopes to hide and experiment with the machine. But is the Manor being watched by locals, his twin brother or even himself?
Daniel is terrified about what the future may hold but, as he discovers, there can be no going back.