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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Book Review: The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway

Title: The River of No Return
Author: Bee Ridgway
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Publishing Date: April 23, 2013
Genre: time travel, romance, adult fiction
Editions: kindle and print
Length:464 pages

In Bee Ridgway’s wonderfully imaginative debut novel, a man and a woman travel through time in a quest to bring down a secret society that controls the past and, thus, the future. 

“You are now a member of the Guild. There is no return.” Two hundred years after he was about to die on a Napoleonic battlefield, Nick Falcott, soldier and aristocrat, wakes up in a hospital bed in modern London. The Guild, an entity that controls time travel, showers him with life's advantages. But Nick yearns for home and for one brown-eyed girl, lost now down the centuries. Then the Guild asks him to break its own rule. It needs Nick to go back to 1815 to fight the Guild’s enemies and to find something called the Talisman.

In 1815, Julia Percy mourns the death of her beloved grandfather, an earl who could play with time. On his deathbed he whispers in her ear: “Pretend!” Pretend what? When Nick returns home as if from the dead, older than he should be and battle scarred, Julia begins to suspect that her very life depends upon the secrets Grandfather never told her. Soon enough Julia and Nick are caught up in an adventure that stretches up and down the river of time. As their knowledge of the Guild and their feelings for each other grow, the fate of the future itself is hanging in the balance.

The time jump sounded fantastic and it's something that I'd like to experience until -- always, there's that inevitable "until", isn't there? I wanted to jump in thinking this was fluff and fun until he started to come to the crosshairs, the problems, the implications, the "gotcha!"s.

The story immediately grasped my attention as the reader - as all good books ought to in my opinion -- and that involvement didn't halt throughout. I was definitely on the side of the protagonist, Nick, and felt as if I were a part of his experiences along with him. And there are many experiences! 

"The River of No Return" deals with the metaphysical nature of time and space and how we think of it. It takes how you think of it and just...throws it off vortically, tossing you completely off balance with this yarn that is fantastically unbelievable and magical and leaves you wishing it were possible. Bee Ridgway did a remarkable job of weaving this well-imagined story. My copy was an advanced reader's edition and comes with the disclaimer that it's not in its finished state. It is hard to believe that there will be any editing other than minor spell corrections and typos; this book felt wholly finished and was really really enjoyable. This is a book that I will be re-reading time and time again, I am sure, especially when I want to escape reality and delve into the realm of possibilities.

What would we do if the end of time caught up to us? Or if time were turned around and  was barrelling towards the present? Nick, the baronet from 19th century England, is faced with this dilemma. What would any of us do if we knew? Would we try stopping it from coming towards us? And if we cannot stop it, what would we do? How would the world react?

Within the fictional context of this time-warping and time-traveling, the tale aims to discuss social and religious issues. Basically, it stirs all aspects of life's issues and emotions. Love, hatred, human interactions, jealousy, selfishness, death, religion (heaven & hell), and whether or not it exists and if so how it affects human creatures. It even deals with social conscience - environmental issues, wealth distribution concerns, male/female equality, socio-economic class differences/warfare and politics. Ridgway mentions about the 1971 abolishment of the Gold Standard and the credit system being established giving the general populace credit cards and how this gives perceived wealth lending towards perceived feelings. As we know, money drives EVERYTHING - past, present and future. This novel covers it all without exception and without tedium. I did not feel like I was being lectured or prodded to think, but think I did. Within the "fluffy" realm lies deeper more meaningful issues that matter, allowing the reader to get involved and to question and think about all of the above things.

I want to read it again! Highly recommended!

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