Hazards of Time Travel
An ingenious, dystopian novel of one young woman’s resistance against the constraints of an oppressive society, from the inventive imagination of Joyce Carol Oates“Time travel” — and its hazards—are made literal in this astonishing new novel in which a recklessly idealistic girl dares to test the perimeters of her tightly controlled (future) world and is punished by being sent back in time to a region of North America — “Wainscotia, Wisconsin”—that existed eighty years before.  Cast adrift in time in this idyllic Midwestern town she is set upon a course of “rehabilitation”—but cannot resist falling in love with a fellow exile and questioning the constrains of the Wainscotia world with results that are both devastating and liberating.  Arresting and visionary, Hazards of Time Travel  is both a novel of harrowing discovery and an exquisitely wrought love story that may be Joyce Carol Oates’s most unexpected novel so far.

Hazards of Time Travel Details

TitleHazards of Time Travel
Author
ReleaseNov 27th, 2018
PublisherEcco
ISBN-139780062319616
Rating
GenreScience Fiction, Fiction, Dystopia, Time Travel, Feminism

Hazards of Time Travel Review

  • Roman Clodia
    January 1, 1970
    Well, this is weird! As a huge JCO fan, one of the things that I love about her is that she's *not* simply re-writing the same book over and over - the variety in her output is hugely impressive. This one, though, is a bit of a puzzle... though a playful, slightly mischievous one despite the serious theme of political authoritarianism. It starts as a homage to 1984 with a kind of 'Sovietisation' of the US: acronyms of bureaucratic bodies abound, people can be 'disappeared' and free thought is se Well, this is weird! As a huge JCO fan, one of the things that I love about her is that she's *not* simply re-writing the same book over and over - the variety in her output is hugely impressive. This one, though, is a bit of a puzzle... though a playful, slightly mischievous one despite the serious theme of political authoritarianism. It starts as a homage to 1984 with a kind of 'Sovietisation' of the US: acronyms of bureaucratic bodies abound, people can be 'disappeared' and free thought is severely circumscribed. Adriane, our 17 year old narrator, upsets the regime by openly (and naively?) questioning their authority and is punished by being whisked back to university in 1959 Wisconsin (the place where JCO herself studied for her MA in the early 1960s). Cue some 'is that how people lived' scenes (typewriters! hair curlers!) and some interesting wandering down psychological theories of selfhood. JCO seems to be taking a swipe at the plethora of YA dystopias where a young woman falls in insta- love and leads a rebellion: in this book, that 'love' is subjected to a subtle interrogation and the rebellion segues into student politics of the 1960s: anti-nuclear weapons, pro civil rights. But then, things take a surprising turn and the final section reminds us that one of the qualities we love about JCO is her boldness. This is an allusive novel: 1984, Stalinism, the Divergent trilogy, The Matrix, The Handmaid's Tale, The Bell Jar, Trump's America and the concomitant nostalgia for the 1950s when, allegedly, pesky women/non-whites/communists/Jews etc. etc. were kept in their place (even as, ironically, western society was agitating for more inclusive, socially-just ways of being). There are places where this feels like it's lost its way; and then, bam, JCO hits us with a revelation that both amuses and also changes everything. I disagree with the early reviews I've seen which peg this as a YA novel: it may have a YA narrator and gesture towards some of the tropes of that genre, but it deconstructs as much as it re-uses and makes productive capital from the interactions. This is not JCO at her best and may not be the best place to start if you haven't read her before - but by the end, I was entertained and stimulated by her witty and rather wicked take on contemporary literary trends and modern US politics.Many thanks to 4th Estate for an ARC via NetGalley
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  • Pauline
    January 1, 1970
    Hazards of Time Travel by Joyce Carol Oates is a dystopian novel that gives a scary look into the future where everything you say and do is closely monitored. A young girl is sent to another time for four years as a punishment for going against the rules. I found this book disturbing and thought provoking.I would like to thank NetGalley and HarperCollins UK, 4th Estate, William Collins for my e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Britta Böhler
    January 1, 1970
    Just finished and no idea how to rate it (yet). Some parts were brilliant but others left me deeply unsatisfied.After the re-read: No more dissatisfaction. Not a flawless book maybe, but overall: brilliant. 4,5*, rounded up to 5.
  • Neil
    January 1, 1970
    Just about the first thing you see when you open this book is a list of other books by Joyce Carol Oates. There are 41 of them! 41! Plus she also writes under not one but two pseudonyms! Starting in 1964 when I was 3 years old and pouring out of her ever since. How, I ask myself, have I got to be almost 58 years old, reading almost continually since I was knee high to a grasshopper and I have not come across any of them?My thanks to HarperCollins UK via NetGalley for an ARC of this book which I Just about the first thing you see when you open this book is a list of other books by Joyce Carol Oates. There are 41 of them! 41! Plus she also writes under not one but two pseudonyms! Starting in 1964 when I was 3 years old and pouring out of her ever since. How, I ask myself, have I got to be almost 58 years old, reading almost continually since I was knee high to a grasshopper and I have not come across any of them?My thanks to HarperCollins UK via NetGalley for an ARC of this book which I requested as it seemed an ideal chance to finally find out about such a prolific author. I am not quite so sure I would have requested the book if I had realised that it is very much "young adult" in story and tone. As mentioned above, I am far from being a "young adult" and I have to acknowledge that I rarely read that type of book.Adriane Stohl lives in a dystopian world where those who dare to engage in free thinking are exiled by being "teletransported" into the past. It is never quite made clear why the state chooses this form of punishment, but I assume it is because it is cheaper than keeping people in prison in your own time. Adriane writes, but never delivers, a speech that asks unpalatable questions and finds herself back in 1959. It would be unfair to say anything further about the plot as that would probably spoil the book for readers, but it (unsurprisingly) involves love. There’s an ending that makes you pause for thought, but it would clearly be wrong of me to discuss that here.Joyce Carol Oates is also prolific on Twitter. About this book, she tweeted: "If this novel--"Hazards of Time Travel"--had been published before 2016 it would seem like a dystopian future/sci-fi; now, a just slightly distorted mirroring of actual T***p US sliding, we hope not inexorably, into totalitarianism & white apartheid."Most of the book is Adriane’s experiences in exile, but there are often reflections back to the time and place from which she has been exiled. The book opens with an epigraph taken from "Science and Human Behavior" by B. F. Skinner: A self is simply a device for representing a functionally unified system of responses.. And it is this that the story focuses on. There are multiple references to experiments on both animals and humans investigating the area of free will vs. response to stimuli. Many parallels are drawn between these experiments and the way the totalitarian state watches (and conditions) its people. Adriane seems the kind of feisty young protagonist who inhabits a typical YA novel (at least, what I believe to be typical) as she seeks to assert her “self” against these oppressive rules. Except she isn’t all the time: she goes all weak and feeble in the presence of a man she yearns for. This surprised me and seemed out of character for her. Maybe this is a deliberate thing on the part of the author, but I am not sure I get it.This is probably a good YA book, but I am not qualified to judge that, as already mentioned. Reading it as an “old adult", it was OK but I couldn’t get excited about it. The story is rather predictable and the message about the totalitarian state a bit heavy-handed. I didn’t come out of it thinking "I must read more by this author", which is a shame as it would have given me plenty more books to read if I had! 2.5 stars rounded down to 2 for the disappointment of discovering it is aimed at people 40-50 years younger than me.
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  • Kathleen Flynn
    January 1, 1970
    My favorite books about time travel, which include KINDRED by Octavia Butler and VERSION CONTROL by Dexter Palmer, are never just about time travel. Ideally it's a stealthy path into bigger ideas: about history, the role of art, free will, life itself. HAZARDS is such a book. It gave me a lot to think about, and I suspect this is one I will want to read again, sooner rather than later. It seemed to start off quite openly polemic in its dystopian vision, a 1984 for our times. But it turned into s My favorite books about time travel, which include KINDRED by Octavia Butler and VERSION CONTROL by Dexter Palmer, are never just about time travel. Ideally it's a stealthy path into bigger ideas: about history, the role of art, free will, life itself. HAZARDS is such a book. It gave me a lot to think about, and I suspect this is one I will want to read again, sooner rather than later. It seemed to start off quite openly polemic in its dystopian vision, a 1984 for our times. But it turned into something else, much harder to categorize: a meditation on the nature of reality, among other things. There were points where I thought it had lost its way and other stretches of sheer genius. The ending was brilliant, I thought.
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  • Gumble's Yard
    January 1, 1970
    I’d even tried to write what were called “stories”—following the pattern of the Nine Basic Plots we were provided, along with vocabulary lists and recommended titles. We were not allowed to take books out of the public library marked A—for Adult; we were restricted to YA, Young Adult, which had to be approved by the Youth Entertainment Board, and were really suitable for grade school. My parents had had Adult Books at one time, but I had never seen them. My thanks to HarperCollins UK for an ARC I’d even tried to write what were called “stories”—following the pattern of the Nine Basic Plots we were provided, along with vocabulary lists and recommended titles. We were not allowed to take books out of the public library marked A—for Adult; we were restricted to YA, Young Adult, which had to be approved by the Youth Entertainment Board, and were really suitable for grade school. My parents had had Adult Books at one time, but I had never seen them. My thanks to HarperCollins UK for an ARC via NetGalley.I requested the ARC as I had seen this book listed as possible early contender for the 2019 Booker and as I understand that the author is a well known and well regarded literary author. Unfortunately to my disappointment this was a Young Adult novel, and very much at the young end of that market and not one with which I could interact.The first part of the book posits a totalitarian state, which emerged from the USA as a result of the crackdown on civil liberties arising from the 9/11 attacks. The protagonist of the novel (and I choose that word carefully as YA novels tend to have protagonists) is Adriane Stohl, already under watch due to her father, a Doctor who has been demoted to a lowly medical job due to subversive behaviour. When Adrianne – a dangerously unconventional student at a time when conformity and unquestioning obedience is expected – rehearses a mildly questioning speech – she is herself detained and classified as an EI (Exiled Individual) transported into exile – an exile which as the title of the book suggests is actually (backwards) through time to 1950s middle-America.In the first part of the book JCO (Joyce Carol Oates) in true YA (Young Adult) style describes in a FCW (Fairly Clunky Way) the DFW (Dystopian Fantasy World) she has created – one where the true horror seems to be the number of acronyms. A typical passage is There had been only a few DASTADs—Disciplinary Actions Securing Threats Against Democracy—taken against Pennsboro students in recent years, and these students had all been boys in category ST3 or below. (The highest ST—SkinTone—category was 1: “Caucasian.” Nevertheless the set-up was potentially intriguing – combining time travel (of which many great science fiction stories have been written but which is a trap for the unwary) and dystopian fiction.It is a potential that is largely wasted in the remaining 85% of the book – as Adrianne (now Mary Ellen) lives in a college and is amazed at things like typewriters, hairsets and smoking while pursuing a rather dreamy romance with one of the tutors, who she believes to be a link to the world she has left. There are some rather half-hearted attempts to link the future totalitarianism to the anti-communist views of the day, as well as some more involved attempts to link them to the research at the time into conditioning (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operant...).Overall a harmless book – which I can certainly imagine my 12 year old daughter enjoying as a light read.
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  • SueKich
    January 1, 1970
    Forward to the Past.This opens at some point in the future with a typical rendering of a dystopian totalitarian landscape: an all-seeing, all-powerful state where freedoms are severely curtailed. In JCO's version, the citizens go to extreme lengths to appear utterly mediocre. Stand out at your peril - and this our likeable narrator Adriane, a bright and mildly rebellious 17-year old, does. Her punishment is four years’ Exile to Zone Nine.At this point the novel changes gear to a kind of Back to Forward to the Past.This opens at some point in the future with a typical rendering of a dystopian totalitarian landscape: an all-seeing, all-powerful state where freedoms are severely curtailed. In JCO's version, the citizens go to extreme lengths to appear utterly mediocre. Stand out at your peril - and this our likeable narrator Adriane, a bright and mildly rebellious 17-year old, does. Her punishment is four years’ Exile to Zone Nine.At this point the novel changes gear to a kind of Back to the Future scenario without the whimsy. As Adriane is ‘teletransported’ back to 1959, she finds herself a new student at Wisconsin’s idyllic Wainscotia College but her homesickness is beyond anything her fellow freshmen may be suffering. Adriane's life as she knows it has vanished along with most of her memories of it. “What is a human being except the sum of her memories?” Loneliness overwhelms her. If only she could talk to someone about what has happened...This was my first Joyce Carol Oates and I found the prose, well, prosaic. But the story-telling has been an immersive experience – as well as curiously disturbing. Towards the end Adriane asks: “Is this a long time ago, or now? Or has it not happened yet?” I could ask much the same.My thanks to 4th Estate for the ARC courtesy of NetGalley.
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  • SueLucie
    January 1, 1970
    A story of several parts, hanging together in a rather contrived, unconvincing way, and with characters that didn’t much engage me. We start with observation of a future totalitarian regime in America - interchangeable, faceless leaders, airbrushed history, strict rules for citizens’ behaviour and close surveillance of their obedience or dissent. All very ‘1984’ and the part of the book that worked least for me. I know Adriane is only 17 but, even so, I found her narration clunky, especially as A story of several parts, hanging together in a rather contrived, unconvincing way, and with characters that didn’t much engage me. We start with observation of a future totalitarian regime in America - interchangeable, faceless leaders, airbrushed history, strict rules for citizens’ behaviour and close surveillance of their obedience or dissent. All very ‘1984’ and the part of the book that worked least for me. I know Adriane is only 17 but, even so, I found her narration clunky, especially as she is supposed to be an unusually free thinker in a highly restricted society. Fast forward (or backward) to 1959 in a small Midwest college and I enjoyed this more. Shared dorm rooms, frat parties, female paraphernalia such as hair rollers and girdles, launderettes, manual typewriters, and smoking everywhere - old-fangled stuff but new to Adriane. Add in some anti-war protests, some tired old behavioural psychology experiments, a big dollop of romance and stir without much vigour or pace.The novel was rather too disjointed for me, and lacking subtlety in its messages about behaviour and society, though I thought the ambiguous ending wrapped it up nicely enough. A disappointment overall, though, as I have enjoyed JCO’s writing in the past, but I wouldn’t rate this as one of her best.With thanks to Harper Collins 4th Estate via NetGalley for the opportunity to read an ARC.
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  • Sam
    January 1, 1970
    The amazingly prolific Joyce Carol Oates has written her novel in response to President Trump. All totalitarian regimes are the same, and The Hazards of Time Travel is reminiscent of Orwell's 1984.It is the future, and North America has become rigidly authoritarian and has a form of apartheid. Adriane is caught thinking for herself, and is exiled to another time. Despite her punishment, Adriane is unable to be other than who she is. After a hideous depiction of her imprisonment and sentencing, A The amazingly prolific Joyce Carol Oates has written her novel in response to President Trump. All totalitarian regimes are the same, and The Hazards of Time Travel is reminiscent of Orwell's 1984.It is the future, and North America has become rigidly authoritarian and has a form of apartheid. Adriane is caught thinking for herself, and is exiled to another time. Despite her punishment, Adriane is unable to be other than who she is. After a hideous depiction of her imprisonment and sentencing, Adriane is marooned in 1959. She discovers she is not the only person exiled there. Oates, through the story, is telling us what the world could easily become if right wing populism continues its' march through the West.
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  • Madeline Partner
    January 1, 1970
    I wanted to like this, but wow I read maybe 20 pages and then gave up! While the premise is intriguing (being sent back to a town 80 yrs in the past) as punishment, the writing is just so juvenile, helping the main character appear as horribly naive, idealistic (in a bad way), and ignorant. How could she have knowingly committed a crime so harsh to be sent back in time if she can’t clearly articulate anything about herself or her surroundings? Some indirect quotes—“Wow my teachers say I’m smart I wanted to like this, but wow I read maybe 20 pages and then gave up! While the premise is intriguing (being sent back to a town 80 yrs in the past) as punishment, the writing is just so juvenile, helping the main character appear as horribly naive, idealistic (in a bad way), and ignorant. How could she have knowingly committed a crime so harsh to be sent back in time if she can’t clearly articulate anything about herself or her surroundings? Some indirect quotes—“Wow my teachers say I’m smart and sometimes I just try too hard!!”“Only black people at my school get punished and I’ve never rlly seen someone with super dark skin! HAha lol”“My dad told me xxxx, my dad told me xxxx”“Wow my dad is sooo smart but he doesn’t make a lot of money! Government is unfair!”Just wow!! How can a book be so surface-level, privileged, ignorant and racist in the first 20 pages? Yeah she’s young but she doesn’t have to be an airhead. No thanks... Thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher for providing me with an advanced readers copy in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Kristin Keeton
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book. It was thought-provoking, thrilling, and oddly romantic. The ending was somewhat frustrating, because there were questions left unanswered, but that's life I suppose!
  • Meggan
    January 1, 1970
    This is definitely a page-turner. It's definitely thought-provoking, and makes you wonder what the future really holds.
  • Kim McGee
    January 1, 1970
    Adriane lives in a future world that is completely controlled by the government where everything is monitored, pre-determined, and uniformity rules. She gains the unwanted attention of the authorities due to her free-thinking Valedictorian speech and is sent to an unusual prison of sorts. Her treasonous tendencies must be stripped away so they teleport her back in time to a boarding school in 1959 to spend her 4-year sentence under a new name. Mary Ellen, Adriane's new identity, is so terrified Adriane lives in a future world that is completely controlled by the government where everything is monitored, pre-determined, and uniformity rules. She gains the unwanted attention of the authorities due to her free-thinking Valedictorian speech and is sent to an unusual prison of sorts. Her treasonous tendencies must be stripped away so they teleport her back in time to a boarding school in 1959 to spend her 4-year sentence under a new name. Mary Ellen, Adriane's new identity, is so terrified that "Big Brother" is watching her every move that she barely speaks to anyone, doesn't try to stand out and doesn't try to make friends. She does find a kindred soul in another exile and does the unthinkable - falls in love and begins to think for herself. I found it very interesting that this future limited any free thought, ambition, and individuality and she is exiled to the late 50's/early 60's where women saw college as a means of finding their future husband but it was also the beginning of free speech and radical thought. The writing is choppy which fits Adriane/Mary Ellen and her intense fear of being singled out and extinguished. For those who favor HANDMAID'S TALE or VOX, this book will ignite a fire in you. My thanks to the publisher for the advance copy.
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  • Tory
    January 1, 1970
    I haven't read enough of Oates to know if this is her typical writing style -- very old-fashioned with lots of dashes and commas, all separating thoughts from each other and constantly feeling like a run-on sentence you'd find in Frankenstein. Not a fan in the least!And I totally didn't get the ending. What a let-down.
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  • Elizabeth Sile
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars
  • carissa
    January 1, 1970
    Straight-forward told tale that sends criminals back in time.Easy to read, like YA, Is it YA? It reads like it, so I was not as charmed as I had expected to be.
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