Yes, I got around to reading this book at last! I think it is one of the first books I added to my to-read list on goodreads when I first joined over a year ago... and it's never been available in the library when I go. Until last week.
I don't know what I was expecting, but it was not this. The way the beginning is written it seems almost like a memoir--so realistic and logical, and even when something crazy happens it's immediately explained with the words "psychotic episode". So you're reading it, and it's like, okay this is fiction, this is good fiction but there's no fantasy aspect here, it's a book about the shock of war. Then Jacob and his dad go to the island and Jacob's exploring the creepy house and you're like, this is rather terrifying. And then the children appear and you think OH NO, GHOSTS! So it's fantasy after all... and then BAM. TIME TRAVEL. And a little while later ugh *cringe* horror--I'm sorry but Enoch's peculiarity is rather horrific.
The use of genuine old photographs is really fascinating and convincing. Speaking of that, I didn't even notice that Olive (the girl on the front cover) was levitating until that was mentioned as part of Jacob's grandpa's stories.
The last quarter or so of the book is extremely fast-paced. It's exciting and the opposite of boring, but for whatever reason I didn't find myself quite as drawn in as I usually am when the action starts to build. Perhaps it's because I didn't have time to grow attached to any of the characters--either because I just didn't really connect with them in general or because I read the book too fast--even Jacob. So I can't say I had a favourite character...
I have two passages bookmarked. This book is obviously incredibly well written, but I didn't really find very many quotes I wanted to save. The ones I bookmarked are both from the last few pages:
Stars, too, were time travellers. How many of those ancient points of light were the last echoes of suns now dead? How many had been born but their light not yet come this far? If all the suns but ours collapsed tonight, how many lifetimes would it take us to realize that we were alone? I had always known the sky was full of mysteries--but not until now had I realized how full of them the earth was. --pg. 338
I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was. Likewise, I never imagined that home might be something I would miss. Yet as we stood loading our boats in the breaking dawn, on a brand new precipice of Before and After, I thought of everything I was about to leave behind--my parents, my town, my once-best-and-only friend--and I realized that leaving wouldn't be like I had imagined, like casting off a weight. Their memory was something tangible and heavy, and I would carry it with me.
And yet my old life was as impossible to return to as the children's bombed house. The doors had been blown off our cages. --pg. 348
All in all, everything about this book is unusual and surprising (which, I suppose, is the point) and yet I did not find myself drawn in emotionally at any point. I was obviously interested in the story, seeing as I read it quickly, but I didn't feel very much while I was reading it. I guess the writing style doesn't speak to me like some others do. But by no means does that mean I discourage others from reading it! It is a very good book!