When Nigel Walden is fourteen, the UNHAPPENINGS begin. His first girlfriend disappears the day after their first kiss with no indication she ever existed. This retroactive change is the first of many only he seems to notice.
Several years later, when Nigel is visited by two people from his future, he hopes they can explain why the past keeps rewriting itself around him. But the enigmatic young guide shares very little, and the haggard, incoherent, elderly version of himself is even less reliable. His search for answers takes him fifty-two years forward in time, where he finds himself stranded and alone.
And then he meets Helen.
Brilliant, hilarious and beautiful, she captivates him. But Nigel’s relationships always unhappen, and if they get close it could be fatal for her. Worse, according to the young guide, just by entering Helen’s life, Nigel has already set into motion events that will have catastrophic consequences. In his efforts to reverse this, and to find a way to remain with Helen, he discovers the disturbing truth about the unhappenings, and the role he and his future self have played all along.
Equal parts time-travel adventure and tragic love story, Unhappenings is a tale of gravely bad choices, and Nigel’s struggle not to become what he sees in the preview of his worst self.
Okay, yes. I bought this one because of the cover. And because it was free. Two qualities I look for in a book-mate.
So… I liked this one.
I didn’t think I would as it deals with time travel—something which generally goes over my head, so the fact that I was (mostly) able to keep up with what was happening while NOT being able to put down the book says good things for this story.
Meet Nigel. Poor, uber-depressed Nigel who keeps having all his good things undone. First loves, award-winning physics papers, MIT acceptance letters—all taken away as if they’d never happened. Over and over and over again. Life for Nigel, as we know it, sucks. So when he’s offered the chance to jump into the future, our main boy takes it. Hopefully stuff will be different there. Hopefully he won’t have to keep losing the things (and people) he loves. And there he meets Helen. Sweet, wonderful, one-of-a-kind Helen. A Helen fifty years his junior.
In this future—his future—we find out why things have been going so horribly wrong for Nigel. We see a lot of what could-have-beens, what could-still-happens and all the scary in between. We meet a villain, a friend, and a cast of supporting characters you hope you don’t get too invested in because they might go poof! any day.
Like I said, time travel confuses me. I can sort of follow along, but our boy did a lot of jumping. There was this present and then this new one and then this other new one and it took a lot to keep up. I don’t read many (or any) time travel books, but as far as this one goes, I think it was done pretty well. I didn’t spend pages reading the scientific explanation of how this works or what made that possible. There was a little, sure, but not an overabundance of jargon that had me snoozing. (Sometimes I did skip ahead because, hey, let’s get to the good parts, right?)
Falling in love with someone fifty years into your future has its own issues. Throw in that villain I mentioned earlier and shit is about to get real. I think Helen is the one thing that kept Nigel (and me) sane from all the craziness that ensues. She’s a great character, loves our boy, and is strong enough to fight through the trials that lie ahead. From a romantic perspective, the author nailed it. I rooted for the couple, cheered when things went right and balled when they didn’t. Which means I was invested. And as a reader, that’s what you want to be.
I’m surprised I liked Unhappenings. It gets a little heavy in parts and I kind of wanted to flick Nigel in the face a few times, but I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a book with a lot of action, urgency and second, third, and fourth chances. Not into time travel? Skim those parts. They’re just a backdrop to an epic love story.