#SciFiMonth Book Review: Lost in Time by A.G. Riddle
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: 2.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Head of Zeus (September 1, 2022)
Length: 416 pages
Author Information: Website | Twitter
Time travel books often test the limits of what I can tolerate in terms of their mindfuckery and outrageous ideas, so I approached Lost in Time with no small amount of trepidation. As it turns out though, it wasn’t the story that got to be too much for me (it was, in fact, quite interesting and full of surprising twists) but factors like the lack of character development and some of the more arbitrary plot devices that took away from the experience.
Lost in Time takes place in the near future, where a team of scientists have developed a new technology capable of time travel called Absolom. Of course, with its capabilities being limited and astronomically costly to run, a deal was struck with the government allowing it to use Absolom to send the world’s worst criminals hundreds of millions of years into the past. Apparently, even monsters feared the unknown, because just the thought of being sentenced to permanent exile in the time of dinosaurs was enough to make the violent crime rate drop to zero overnight.
As one of Absolom’s inventors though, Sam Anderson never thought that he would one day face that fate. But on the anniversary of his wife’s death, while visiting her grave site with his children, Sam is arrested for the murder of his lover and fellow scientist Nora. Camera footage showed Sam and his teenage daughter Adeline at Nora’s house the night before and that they were last people to see her alive. Suspecting that they are being framed, Sam confesses to the crime to protect Adeline, which immediately earns him a one-way ticket to the prehistoric past. Devastated, Adeline sets out on a quest to prove her father’s innocence, and with his former colleagues, figure out a way to bring him back.
At first when I read the book’s synopses, I was instantly intrigued. I wondered at the time traveling elements and the science and tech concepts that must be involved, plus I was excited at the prospect of lots of dinosaurs. As it turned out though, the book was rather light on both these features. Mostly, we just have to accept Absolom as it is—a piece of time traveling tech that does what it does, the “science” behind it fine for a shallow dive but isn’t going hold much water against greater scrutiny or if the right, intelligent questions are asked. Still, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it does make Lost in Time a lot more accessible than the average time travel story, and it can be picked up easily even if you’re not into science fiction.
As it also happens, Lost in Time isn’t even really about Sam, but Adeline. If you were drawn to the book’s description because it teased a prehistoric survival adventure, then there’s a good chance you’ll be disappointed because the novel strives to be a more human story instead, focusing on a daughter’s love for her father and her willingness to go to any length to set him free. Which would have been fine and good, but the problem was the writing style. I feel that A.G. Riddle’s prose is better suited to straight-up technothrillers where it’s more acceptable for bombastic action and linear narratives to take precedent over character development.
The truth is though, not only did I feel a lack of genuine emotion from the characters, I also couldn’t bring myself to care about them. The novel reads quickly and explosively, but that’s about it. As I alluded to before, I believe Lost in Time would have fared much better as a straight-up technothriller, except Riddle clearly intended it to have a more human, emotional element. Regrettably though, the writing itself felt too sterile and non-nonsense for me to connect with any of the (stereotypical) characters on a deeper level. With no real warmth, atmosphere, or intensity behind the prose, the whole human element behind Adeline’s epic journey quickly fell apart.
Ultimately, as a reader who places great value on character development, I’m afraid Lost in Time simply did not appeal to me on that front. That being said though, if you are drawn to sci-fi action for its cinematic qualities and breakneck pacing, there might be something for you here.
No matter how intriguing the story is, if we cannot connect in some way with the characters, the book falls flat on its proverbial face….
Exactly. I need to care about the characters!
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If there are not tons of scenes with dinosaurs eating convicted criminals in a properly gruesome manner, count me out.
That’s what I’m saying! With a premise like that, you’d think we’d see a lot more scenes of criminals getting their comeuppance by T-rex. Missed opportunity, I say!
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I thought this book had pretty high ratings on Goodreads last time I checked, but maybe it’s been awhile 😁
The ratings might be more mixed now, though I see plenty of glowing reviews from fans who love his work.
You know, I see this book pop up a lot on amazon. They must think I’d like it. 🙂 And it does have a cool premise, I guess. I’m with Bookstooge though, I think I’d want more dinos and carnage. 🙂 But then again I do like character development too, and sounds like this one didn’t quite work for you that way. I guess it’s a skip lol.
the publisher name cracks me up too!
I think Riddle actually started off as a self-pub Amazon author, so that might partly explain why his books may pop up for you a lot, especially if you do a lot of SFF searches. And yes, the lack of dino carnage was a shame, such a missed opportunity!
My first thoughts are of a TV series I started watching but didn’t continue. I don’t recall the name, but it had to do with sending groups of people back in time to live. I don’t think they were criminals, though. Interesting twist, I suppose.
Hmm, now I’m curious! I just did a quick google search, does Terra Nova ring a bell?
Yeah, that was it. 🙂 Not sure if I’d recommend it or not. It had its moments. But I also didn’t continue watching, so…
Ha damn! When I don’t care for the character I never can give a high rating either!
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I do not think I could care either
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Another missed opportunity. I do wonder though why you would send people back in time, you’d think the scientists would be worried about changing the future – but, if that’s not an issue and you have to just go with the flow then I’m with you and just want all out chaos and rampaging dinosaurs.