Have you ever had a book start slow, but by the end you were flying through the pages needing to know what happened? I’ve had a couple of those recently and this was certainly one of them! I guess it’s finally time for another review, eh?
Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. From Elizabethan England to Jazz-Age Paris, from New York to the South Seas, Tom has seen a lot, and now craves an ordinary life.
Always changing his identity to stay alive, Tom has the perfect cover – working as a history teacher at a London comprehensive. Here he can teach the kids about wars and witch hunts as if he’d never witnessed them first-hand. He can try to tame the past that is fast catching up with him. The only thing Tom must not do is fall in love.
Blurb from book cover.
This is the first adult fiction I’ve read from Haig, and though I loved Notes on a Nervous Planet and The Truth Pixie, this one started a bit slower for me. The novel cuts through time, jumping between Tom’s childhood and present day (which, for him, are centuries apart). Normally I get on board with this pretty quickly in a book, but at the beginning the cuts were happening every few pages and it took me a little while to wrap my head around it.
That said, I did get used to it after a little while and once I’d had some decent chunks of time in each era I got pretty invested in the story, and started sinking my teeth in to it a bit more. The characterisation of Tom was an interesting one, though he seemed somewhat bland you slowly peel back layers of him and an interesting back-story which makes you want to read on. You begin to really feel Haig’s own battles with mental health issues like anxiety and depression, and as he draws from his own experience these scenes are vivid and eloquently written.
Though I enjoyed the book overall, I felt like there was more around the human connection piece that could have been explored, potentially. With such a wide cast of characters, it’s strange that to me it felt like I didn’t find a character I really liked or connected with until halfway through the book or so. Tom is a great character in the end, but not overly relatable to me given he’s a centuries-old white man…I think I just wanted to feel more deeply about the characters overall, and read about the human element from a man who had lived so long and met so many people.
Overall, I’d still say I enjoyed the read. There were moments that made me laugh, and times it made me stop and think, which to me makes a decent book. It also had the cheeky inclusion of characters like Shakespeare which I enjoyed. If you’re into contemporary reads with a twist, this could be right up your alley!
Read if: You’re a lover of unique twists on contemporary books.
Page Length: 325
What books have you read that you weren’t sure about at first but ended up sucking you in?