Book Review – An Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim

An Ocean of Minutes

It is 1980 and Polly and Frank live in Buffalo and are in love.  They decide to take a road trip to New Orleans, however, a wrong turn ends up with them landing in Galveston, Texas.  When they left Buffalo, they had no idea what the next few days would have in store for them.  An accident at a disease control agency leads to a deadly virus pandemic that infects not only the United States, but most of the world in a matter of days.  Soon Frank is sick and while there is a vaccine available for everyone, it is not very effective and only the wealthy or people with good health care plans actually get access to the vaccine that has any possibility of working.  Frank is not wealthy and has no health care but Polly is desperate to save him so she agrees to time travel to 1993 through a corporation called Time Raiser.  Frank doesn’t want Polly to go, however, she convinces him that it is the only way that he has a chance of surviving and they make a plan to meet at the Houston International Airport on September 4, 1993 with a backup plan of meeting at the Flagship Hotel in Galveston on any Saturday in September if the airport meet-up doesn’t work.

Immediately there are problems with Polly’s time travel.  Unbeknownst to her, the date of her arrival has been changed from 1993 to 1998.  This would mean that Frank would be 18 years older (and presumably healthy if the vaccine worked) but in reality Polly would only be an hour or two older (the time that it took to time travel).  It also meant that Frank would have no idea that she wouldn’t appear again until 1998.

When Polly gets to 1998, she is still in Galveston, however, it is nothing like she remembers.  Eighteen years have passed and the city has gone through the pandemic.  The United States is now divided into two separate countries with the northern part, including Buffalo, being the United States and the southern section, including Texas, being America.  Not only has 18 years passed for Frank, but Polly isn’t even in the same country now as Frank or her aunt Donna who helped raise Polly.

By accepting the terms of time travel from Time Raiser, Polly has agreed to work for the corporation for a given number of months in order to pay off her debt for the cost of the time travel and Frank’s medical care.  Life in 1998 America, however, is not what she thought it would be.  Galveston, along with most of the cities in America are decimated in that there have been no workers to keep services operating so bridges have collapsed, water systems no longer work, highways and streets are still congested from car accidents that happened over a decade ago and power can be non-existent in certain areas of the city.   Throughout Polly’s struggle to get through each day, her hope to meet up with Frank becomes harder to hang onto.

I think the author did a really good job with the concept of the time travel aspect of this book, but I found the descriptions of 1998 America quite depressing to read and I didn’t enjoy that part of the book.  I also wasn’t overly happy with the ending.

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