Tom Hazard is old, but you would never know it. He is old like trees are old, or sea turtles. To be more precise, Tom is four hundred and thirty nine years old but he doesn’t look a day over forty-one. He suffers from a rare condition that causes his body to age very slowly, and as such he is filled with memories that span centuries. Tom’s life has been determined for years by the mysterious Albatross Society which is comprised of people with the same condition. The Albatross Society has only one rule. Never fall in love…
On the surface, How To Stop Time is a wildly irreverent novel which bounds gleefully through the centuries. It delights in juxtaposing great historical figures with modern day language. At one point, the protagonist mentions that Shakespeare wouldn’t have gotten any right swipes on Tinder. Tom Hazard seems constantly excited by modern sanitation systems in cities. As he states at one point, “You used to live in stink. People never used to wash. People used to think baths were bad for them.”
At the same time, the underlying subject matter isn’t afraid to get serious. Immortality has long been a fascination for humanity, but Tom points out some of the serious drawbacks to living for centuries. He is plagued by headaches as his brain struggles to comprehend four hundred years worth of memories. He has watched the decay and death of every single person he has ever known. He has watched as generation upon generation of people refuse to learn from the mistakes of the past.
There is a curious combination of romanticism and cynicism present in this novel. Despite all the struggles and strife and bad smells that Tom has experienced, in his heart he still has hope for the bumbling people surrounding him. It is somehow a very innocent story, despite a few examples of foul language it would be very appropriate for a YA audience. I found myself reading most of this book with a smile on my face.
My rating: 4/5
Happy reading everyone!