It’s no surprise that, if time travel were to be invented, it would probably only be accessible by the ultra-rich. January Cole, the protagonist of Rob Hart’s outstanding novel The Paradox Hotel, has the misfortune of running security at an enterprise that offers tours of the past for wealthy, entitled people she despises. She’d quit, except that the Hotel is the only place where she can catch glimpses of her deceased girlfriend. Her grief and the behavior of the guests has pushed January to the brink of her patience…which means it’s the perfect time for the hotel to host a summit for a senator and four of the richest men in the world as they bid on the technology that makes time travel possible. And then, the dinosaurs show up.
Something is very wrong at the Paradox Hotel. It turns out that, even though there are hundreds of rich people queued up to take a trip in to the past, the Hotel isn’t turning a profit. The US government is planning to sell off the technology to recoup their investment. The four candidates all have different plans for time travel, plans that all involve breaking the cardinal run of “look but don’t touch.” But it seems that someone else has already broken that rule as each of the candidates is almost murdered before the auction can even start. Keeping people safe is infinitely more difficult when the assassin is able to bend the rules of time.
January is one of the prickliest characters I’ve ever met in fiction, at least since Lisbeth Salander. She’s a jerk to everyone, even her friends. Because we ride along with her for the entire book, we know all of the hurt January is trying to conceal. We also learn that January is trying to hide the fact that she’s come Unstuck, which means that her perception of events is out of sync with everyone else’s. This unfortunate side effect of her earlier service in the Time Enforcement Authority turns out to be a boon against a time-hopping killer. Her slips through time give her just enough hints to keep herself alive. And also catch those dinosaurs.
Perhaps the best reason to read this book is the powerful ending. I love a science fiction book that can, first, bend my mind with the plot and then, second, hit me with a beautiful, emotionally intense payoff that pulls all of those wild plot threads together to land a perfect conclusion. I don’t want to ruin it by saying anything else. So I’ll just say, if you like time travel, science fiction blended with Buddhism, and a star-crossed love story, run (don’t walk) to pick up The Paradox Hotel.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.