Book Review: The Paradox Hotel by Rob Hart
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 3 of 5 stars
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Ballantine Books (February 22, 2022)
Length: 336 pages
Author Information: Website | Twitter
Welcome to the Paradox Hotel. A playground for the super rich, its offers its exclusive clientele the chance to travel back in time to any era they want. But meddling with the time stream also has its consequences. To prevent any of their time tourists from mucking about with the past too much, the hotel also employs time agents like our protagonist January Cole, whose job is to track and fix any time ripples before their effects can get out of hand.
Unfortunately, too much time travel can also have some deadly side effects. One of the nastier symptoms is mental degradation, a state known a being Unstuck. When this happens, the time traveler will experience lapses where past and future moments collide with the present, making it difficult to tell what is real. Due to her many years of working security for the Paradox, January has become Unstuck, her condition having progressed into the later, more severe stages, though she is reluctant to admit it, insisting on staying on the job.
So, when January finds a dead body in one of the hotel rooms, she doesn’t know what to think. Is this real, or is it something only she can see? With a blizzard rolling in, the Paradox is also on lockdown, trapping a group of trillionaires within its walls, along with the ghosts purported to haunt its halls. It all just seems too coincidental, and January has a suspicion that all this has been planned. Hiding among them is a killer who knows how to manipulate time in their favor, and the hotel is rife with wealthy victims, any of whom might be next.
As someone who has read and enjoyed Rob Hart’s The Warehouse, I was excited to jump into The Paradox Hotel, whose premise boasts of a locked room mystery with time travel. But as it turns out, the mystery aspect doesn’t feature too prominently. For one thing, there is a lot of preamble; by the time we got to the part with the dead body, I confess I’d almost forgotten that this was supposed to be a murder mystery. In addition, we also had a multitude of factors that made the plot confusing to follow, but I’ll talk more about that in a bit.
The good news though, is that there’s time traveling aplenty. I was impressed with a lot of the ideas here, and there are some fascinating world-building elements related to time travel. That said, if you’re not into sci-fi or don’t read the genre regularly, the story might be a bit hard to follow, with time travel being a challenging subject to write about in the first place, and the author could also have done a better job articulating some of the more intricate concepts. If you zone out for even a second, you might miss some important detail, so this is a book that truly requires the reader’s full attention.
Another factor that could complicate things is the main character herself. Because of her condition, January could be considered an unreliable narrator, leading you to constantly question where or when she might be, and whether or not she is experiencing something real versus reliving one her memories or having one of her “slips” through time. She isn’t the easiest protagonist to get behind either. Often, I found her too standoffish, judgmental, and overly sarcastic. Character development in general was sparse, and had the unfortunate effect of making a caricature out of most situations, the people of this world reduced to stereotypes, and January herself felt like a generic smartass, I’ve-got-a-tragic-backstory-to-excuse-my-too-edgy-to-follow-your-stupid-rules kind of heroine, unloading her unpleasantness onto everyone from hotel clientele to close friends.
Still, The Paradox Hotel wasn’t a bad book, as ultimately I enjoyed myself. Of course, I wish the story had featured a stronger mystery element or that the plotline hadn’t been so convoluted, but the second half of the book contained a ton of action and entertainment which made it a quick and fun read (despite the dinosaur parts coming across as just a tad self-indulgent). For me, this one felt more like a standard fluff read, but I was glad it kept me turning the pages.
Ah yes it’s too bas on the mystery aspect but I agree the idea looked really good!
Yes, great premise – I just wish I liked the other aspects more!
When time travel is thrown into the mix, it’s possible that the end result might not be what we hope for, so I’m glad to learn that in the end you managed to have some fun with this one. Which is always a good thing… 🙂
True, time travel stories are tricky! Easier if I don’t think about the logistics too much though 😀
Time travel and paradox reads often make my brain hurt, so I either love them or hate them. I’m kinda glad I resisted the urge to get this one. Too bad you didn’t like it more, though 🙂
Yeah, I wish it had been better! The story was definitely a little convoluted, but I think it was my dislike for the character that affected my experience the most.
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I was hoping to see a higher rating from you, but still, I’m looking forward to checking this out!
I recently saw your review, looks like we had some of the same issues – January was just too much for me, lol!
I’m thinking I’ll skip this one and perhaps try The Warehouse when I’m ready to try this author.
The story of The Warehouse was definitely better and less confusing 😀
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Eh I like standard fluff
I was able to enjoy this one as such, so that’s good!
I have mixed feelings about whether or not to read this – I think not to be honest although i do like the sound of certain aspects.