Time travel. A fantasy novel in which the author will set up certain parameters under which an impossibility in the real world can function, and ask us to suspend our disbelief enough to accept these new rules so that the story will work.
And then most authors cheerfully break their own rules because otherwise the story they have conceived will not work.
In the case of “Butterman,” I must say the author pulled me a long way into the story before I shouted, “Oh, come on!”
The old problem with time travel is going back and changing something, thus changing your present reality. You go back and shoot your ancestor, what happens? Do you cease to exist when you get home?
The technique that kept me moving in this story was something PK Hrezo calls a causal loop. This is a situation where somebody from the present goes back to the past and causes a change that is necessary for the present present to exist, so to speak. In fact, they must go back. This allows our heroine to mess with the past a little bit, but not too much. I’m willing to allow this and stay involved.
The plot revolves around Bianca, scion of the Butterman private Time Travel company, 18 years old and just about to earn her spurs, so to speak, as a licensed time travel guide. Enter the villain, Ms. Garth, agent for the all-powerful Department of Transport, which is trying to choke all private enterprise time travel with red tape. (Mercifully, the author spares us the usual rah-rah-free enterprise vs big government right-wing American propaganda and lets the story speak for its own themes.) Garth is performing an audit of their work with the intention of shutting them down, so everything must run perfectly for the next week or so.
Enter Tristan, boy-band pop star, willing to pay triple for a ride back to his pre-druggy days in New York, to find the forgotten lyrics to The Song that will save his addiction-riddled career.
The lovely (and most realistic) part of the story comes when, like a couple of teenagers trying to get home before curfew, the two run into snag after snag, as their 12-hour trip winds down to the final, frantic seconds, with Bianca trying to get them back to the ship in time for the portal window, and Tristan determined to find just one more fun part of his past life to relive.
The action is capped off by a wonderful side trip to the most iconic rock music event of the 20thcentury (come on, you can guess), with great suspense carried throughout.
My “Oh, come on!” moment hit when the time travel guide explained seriously to her client that he could cause all sorts of trouble if he took a piece of paper from the apartment of his past life, but she could go back and save everyone on the Titanic and it wouldn’t make any difference. Pop goes the suspension-of-disbelief bubble. And the Titanic doesn’t even come into the story. If that’s the setup for the sequel, I’m not going to be impressed.
Other than that, the plot pretty well hangs together. Great characters, great description, good action. The love story is also fun, with the Goth girl refusing to fall for the saccharine boy-band pop star, until… Well, I really think you should read the book and find out.
Recommended for time travel fans and music lovers (especially Jimi Hendrix devotees).
Except for the Titanic, it would be 4 stars out of 5.