Time Salvager by Wesley Chu

Posted On 10 July 2015

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Just finished reading Time Salvager by Wesley Chu which kicks off what promises to be a very good series.

Set in a future where time travel has become possible you would imagine the world would be a bright and shiny place, high tech and advanced.  You’d be mainly wrong of course.  The planet earth has become little short of a wasteland, so toxic and covered with sludge that most people have abandoned it and sought out life elsewhere in the solar system.

Time travel is a dangerous job, jumping back in time is not exactly conducive to good health and added to that is the psychological impact. There are a whole bunch of rules for jumping back in time which I’m not going to go into!  You’ll just have to take my word for it when I say that Chu has managed to write this in a very accessible and clever way.  I’m not going to say that you couldn’t pick holes in it if you really wanted to because I have no idea if you can or not – I simply didn’t try.  I just read it and accepted the whole ethos behind Chu’s set up.  Maybe I’m just easily pleased but I decided to pay more attention to the story than the whole mechanics of it.  After all the area of time travel can easily become fraught with ‘what ifs’ so I figured if I’m going to suspend my disbelief enough in the first place to read a story about jumping back and forth through time then I might just as well go the whole hog and believe the how’s and why’s that the author gives me. Simples.

Our main protagonist James is a Chronman (a time jumper).  He’s a bit jaded to say the least which isn’t really a surprise when you spend most of your time travelling back to times when massive disasters are taking place and people are dying around you while you just pop in and out and take whatever it is you’ve been sent to retrieve.  It weighs on a person’s mind.  The most important rule is nobody from the past gets brought back.  Nobody has ever broken that rule until James, bogged down by his own ghosts, takes sympathy on a scientist called Elise who has caught his attention whilst on his latest mission and in a moment of weakness he takes her with him.  Of course, this isn’t something that can be hidden and the authorities who govern time travel are immediately onto him.  Now fugitives, James and Elise have to evade capture and try to stay under the radar and this is where they discover not only new allies but also the potential for a cure and possible hope for a brighter future?

I thought this was a really good read to be honest. It has a very dark feel to it which isn’t really surprising.  James is a jaded character haunted by the ghosts of all those people he’s had to watch die before his eyes.  The world really holds no appeal for him and he longs for a time when he can just get out from this job.  On top of that the world in which he lives is also miserable and seedy and the other inhabitants suitably repressed.  Yes, there is a whole feel of doom and gloom but it’s fitting for this part of the story.  Chu manages to make you feel the lethargy and you almost become annoyed reading at the way people have simply lost hope and no longer seem to have an inner spark.  Then, we have Elise, who unexpectedly becomes part of James world.  Being from a different era she manages to bring with her a little ray of sunshine and hope into this world.  She simply hasn’t given up yet and she still cares enough about the world and the people on it to try and make a difference.

The Characters.  Well, in spite of James hardboiled and prickly exterior I quite liked him as a character and found the interaction between himself and Elise interesting.  I think watching his development is going to be very intriguing. Chu has a way of writing characters and relationships that give them time to become meaningful.  He doesn’t rush them but allows them to grow and adapt so that you actually feel yourself starting to care about them.  Now enter the scene Levin.  Levin is an auditor and he’s been given the task to find James.  I kind of felt sorry for Levin to be honest.  He’s one of those characters that really needs to get a life!  He’s just so bogged down by rules and playing everything by the book that he’s become almost inhuman.  His adherence to the rule book and failure to see things other than black and white means he basically spends a very lonely existence as people simply don’t like him.  Again, i think it will be interesting to see how he adapts.  My favourite character so far though has to be Grace.  I just couldn’t help liking her.  She’s like this 93 year old ‘mother of time’ sassy, argumentative character.  She definitely brought a little something more to the story and much like Elise hasn’t been bogged down by the present world’s dire predicament.

The setting is very well done.  We have the grime and filth of the city where people shuffle around aimlessly trying to eek out a living.  From there we move out to the ‘wilds’ as James and Elise try to evade capture.  The landscape then becomes quite a contrast and is vividly imagined.  We actually come across areas that don’t seem to have completely fallen into despair yet and groups of people who are still willing to commit to each other.

On the whole I thought this was a really good read and I’m looking forward to seeing where Chu goes next.  And after reading the Tao stories I think that what we can expect from this author is the unexpected.

I received a copy of this from the publishers through Netgalley for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.


14 Responses to “Time Salvager by Wesley Chu”

  1. Tammy

    I just skimmed this because I’m reading it soon. And I’m meeting Wesley Chu TODAY!!!

    • lynnsbooks

      How exciting! Hope you’re going to give a write up?
      Lynn 😀

    • lynnsbooks

      Hey – finally back home and in work (routine!!) I hope you posted about your meeting with Chu. Going to be catching up with everyone’s posts that I’ve missed now.
      Lynn 😀

  2. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Yeah, with time travel books sometimes the best way to enjoy is just to ignore the actual ins-and-outs of time traveling, sit back and relax with the story 🙂

    Glad you liked the book, my favorite was Levin precisely because I kind of feel bad for him, lol. Grace also seems to be a favorite with a lot of people…somehow, though, I haven’t seen Elise been getting much love, lol.

    • lynnsbooks

      Yeah, I never really thought of that – Elise isn’t a bad character after all. Grace just felt like something of a scene stealer somehow.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    I just got the audiobook, so didn’t want to read too close, but am happy to see your overall reaction is positive! Really looking forward to it!

    • lynnsbooks

      Back home so will be able to check out everyone’s thoughts now.
      Lynn 😀

  4. Ria

    I really liked this one. The ending contained what I thought was a pretty large plot hole, but not one that’s insurmountable, especially since this wasn’t a standalone and there’s opportunity in the future for it to possibly get explained. (Fingers crossed for that, because Chu’s the kind of person who, I think, likes to have his stories make as much sense as they possibly can.)

  5. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    This isn’t the first positive mention I’ve encountered about this book, so I think it needs to be added to my TBR pile… 🙂
    Total agreement of the choice of following the story rather than the hows and whys of the temporal mechanics: while a little scientific coherence is always welcome, as long as there are no gaping holes in the plot, I prefer to see the focus centered on characters and story rather than seeing technology analyzed to the most minute (and sometimes boring & distracting) detail.

    • lynnsbooks

      Yep, I definitely don’t want too much distracting detail. I like to feel that there’s something there by way of explanation but with time travel I don’t want it to become too convoluted – it already does my head in a little bit thinking of all the possible plot holes!
      Lynn 😀

  6. Hot July brings cooling showers… |

    […] Time Salvager by Wesley Chu […]

  7. ‘Ooh-de-la-lay! Ooh-de-la-lay! Fortune tellers!’ | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] Time Salvager by Wesley Chu – yes, you can call this a time salvager or somebody who goes back in the past to recover resources – but, basically it is stealing from the past.  Yes? […]

  8. Waiting on Wednesday: Time Siege by Wesley Chu #RRSciFiMonth | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […]  My book this week is Time Siege by Wesley Chu.  (Time Salvager is the first in series, review here). Due out July 2016 – I can’t wait.  Check out the fantastic cover […]

  9. Time Siege (Time Salvager #2) by Wesley Chu | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] case you didn’t get round to reading Time Salvager my review is here, and, customary warning: if you haven’t read the first instalment this review could very well […]

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