How to Stop Time

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 06 Apr 2018

Member Reviews

I've read other books about people who can live forever, or to an incredibly old age, but they have usually been vampire stories. Frankly, I've liked those books better than this one.  Tom Hazard was born in 1581 with a condition of unknown origin that made him age very, very slowly.  He and the other people with this condition have been forced to uproot their lives frequently so that they are not discovered and burned as witches, subjected to scientific experiments or faced with other  imagined horrors. Tom fell in love and married once and they had a daughter Marion who inherited Tom's condition. Tom became separated from his family and he spent the rest of his life searching for Marion. 

You would think that in 500 years Tom would have done something interesting or exciting or useful, but that is not the case. He moped. He also met some famous people like Shakespeare and Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, who are name dropped for no reason. I know that it wasn't the intent of the author to write an adventure story or speculative fiction. He wanted to tell a story about the meaning and purpose of life and how to use the time we have. However I found the philosophy trite and the ending of the book really sappy. I didn't hate this book, but I was unmoved by it. 

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
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There are those among us who do not age.. They instead travel through time, moving from place to place as they begin to arouse suspicions. The number one rule is "don't fall in love" and definitely never have children. The main character of Matt Haig's novel has done both and now he's paying the price.

I'm not typically a fan of books about time travel or ultra-long life. It simply stretches my imagination too far. So I was not particularly fond of this book. However, the premise does have some merit -- how would you react if you had experienced acting for Shakespeare, travelling with Captain Cook, WWI and WWII and modern technology? Although at times this seemed almost a bit like "Forrest Gump", the writing is well done and it is pretty imaginative. There's a bit of suspense and mystery involved as well, but all-in-all, I didn't find this particularly captivating.
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I just finished reading Eternal Life by Dara Horn and reading a bit about a genetic defect, that slows aging ridiculously , known as Syndrome X, so this one looked really interesting. Not a time travel book, this one features a man who not only ages very slowly (hes about 400-500 years old) and only looks middle aged, but just doesn't die of old age like everyone else. He belongs to a group, of sorts, of similar people who only have one rule- don't fall in love- ever. I can sort of understand why after Dara Horn's book. Anyway, after all the centuries he's lived, he finally returns to his place of birth to teach history- good choice!- as he's lived through so much of it!   But it was an interesting story, I think one good for summer. Love redeems everything! It's a pleasant read while sitting in the shade, sipping a pitcher of ice tea. take it along on vacation.
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This book had a wonderful concept for a novel: a person who had a unique genetic condition that enabled him to live for many centuries—aging very slowly. It started out really interesting as the protagonist, Tom Hazard, was born in the 1500s to a mother with the same condition, however, she was denounced as a witch and killed. There were other people similar to Tom who we meet in the novel, apparently part of a close secret society to keep their condition secret, from denunciations of witchcraft and other reasons through the years. They had to change identities every 7 years to keep them secret and move to different places, Tom had a daughter and was always searching for her through the centuries. However, it got very slow very quickly and contrite. Amazingly, Tom got to know Shakespeare, Captain Cook, and F. Scott Fitzgerald through his years. Ultimately it turned into a thriller type plot. The initial premise was good but in my view failed in this attempt.
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Reminded me a The Time Traveler's Wife, which I also enjoyed. Lovely lyrical writing and characters you come to care for. A great trip through time and meditation of the passage of years.
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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my unbiased opinion.

Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret – he is 431 years old.  His mom died when she was accused of being a witch because of his unchanging looks.  A few years later, he married, but when his wife and daughter start getting accused of witchcraft, too, he knows he has to leave them for their safety.  Since then, he has learned not to get close to people and questions the point of life.  When he learns his daughter has inherited his abnormally long life condition, he makes a promise to find her, a promise that has kept him going for centuries.

Tom also joins the Albatross Society, a group comprised of people like him that can help him create a new identity every 8 years.  For his latest life, Tom asks to become a history teacher in London.  There, he starts to make connections that make him question his choice not to get attached.

The premise of the book intrigued me, and I enjoyed looking back on the times Tom lived through.  However, as it went on, the plot didn't seem to be progressing, and I slowly lost my interest.  Some of the flashbacks, like meeting Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, didn't add anything to the plot.  Also, the climax in Australia made no sense to me; it seemed out of character for the person in question.  It wasn't a bad read, but it just didn't live up to its potential.
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I found myself wanting to learn to use the highlight function on my Kindle so I could save parts of this book as quotes. Beautifully written.
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I held off reading this for a while, thinking it was going to be too long, meander-y, etc., but I finally started reading it and was carried on a wave from the start. Some people have said there isn't a story, and it's made them not love the book. I can tell you there definitely IS a story, it just doesn't follow a linear, cookie-cutter, formula-driven set of rules. And it's also not about time travel, in a sci-fi way. It's about living through time, and traveling through time via memories. And this is how it's told. Memories beget a particular story/remembrance, then bring us back to present, then insert little stints of action to keep things interesting. The philosophy of the book is lovely, and I really felt a sense of what it might be like to live for centuries - the physical and mental exhaustion, the fears, the hurdles, and the anxieties about the future for someone with such a lifespan. I think we all worry about time - not having enough, that is. Can you imagine what it might be like to worry about whether you'll be remembered and called out for living too long? worry about living beyond everyone and everything you've loved or known? worry about confusing memory and current life? and feeling jaded about people and existence and societal patterns/mistakes, etc? It's quite something to think about, and this book really took me through it all. I recommend it to those with a philosophical tendency, and those with some time to spend not being rocketed by a mystery-like-plot, but rather, a contemplative kind of journey about existence, time, memory, and the things that really matter - connection, love, empathy, and kindness.
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Matt Haig is the author of one of my favorite books, The Labrador Pact, so I was quite excited to receive this book from Netgalley. 

Tom Hazard is old, really old, over 400 years old. It seems as though it would be a dream, right? Live almost forever, never really age, never get sick? It sounds like it would be wonderful, all of that time to do everything that you've really wanted to, but when there is only a tiny group of individuals the same, it is incredibly lonely. 

It took me a bit to get into this story, but once I did I finished it very quickly. It's a fascinating concept and ended up being more about love, and fear of loving. I'd recommend this story to anyone who enjoys novels that are imaginative.
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3.25 stars

Time travelling tale with an interesting premise and background. Main character Tom Hazard is an Albatross, Alba for short, and is going to live forever, while barely aging-- he's already almost 500 years old and has lived through many identities, centuries, and settings. 

The book seems to slip back and forth from medieval English villages to a modern college campus fairly smoothly. Tom has been warned to never fall in love, but he still mourns the death of his wife hundreds of years ago and keeps searching for his daughter.

There is an element of sci fi intrigue and danger in the character of Hendrich, who is sort of an overseer of the Albas and worried about them becoming exposed and exploited. While the characters are pleasant, the further in we read, the more the book slips into some fairly derivative and angsty musings about life, love, the passage of time, etc. etc. etc. 

Thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in return for my honest opinion.
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This was not as engaging as I hoped it would be, the premise was very interesting and I had high hopes for this one but had a hard time staying with it at times.
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This was a fascinating examination of life.  The story was more of a character study than a plot driven tale - although there is a bit of mystery in finding out everything that has happened to the main character to make him into the man he is in the present day.  I loved the historical detail as well - it felt real, and the tragedies of Tom's life felt more poignant because they are so far removed in his past, but are still affecting his life.  

This book is a story of interesting ideas and what if's.  The resolution of the present day plot goes very quickly though.  For all the buildup I was anticipating something more involved, and I felt like there were some ideas and characters that could have been fleshed out more, but as an examination of the idea of living a long life and how it can affect one person - this was a intriguing read.
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Tom Hazard has an unusual condition where the aging process is greatly slowed down.  He is over 400 years old but looks to be in his 40s.  It is a rare condition but there are other people like him.  In order to protect himself, Tom joins the Albatross Society, a group of people with the same condition. The first rule is to not fall in love and the second rule is to move around every 8 years or so to limit risk of people noticing him.  The Society is aware of some organizations that want to experiment on them so they can figure out how to slow down aging.  Tom is now a teacher in London, thinking back on his life when he meets someone who makes him rethink the rules that he lives his life by.

The book is told from Tom's point of view but it bounces around in time from Shakespearean time to various points in history which I found distracting since many of these interludes didn't really add much to the story other than name dropping historical figures.  I found that the plot didn't really get moving until very close to the end of the book as the first part of the book covers Tom's repeated reminders of his loneliness and sadness from living so long.  Overall, I enjoyed this book but it took me a really long time to get into it.
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I always enjoy a good story about time travel/time perceptions, and this one sounded interesting. Our main character has a rare genetic trait that means he ages incredibly slowly, and he's been alive for a few hundred years. Throw in the conflict of a missing daughter (who shares this genetic trait), a lost love, a new possible love, and a secret society that is, as any good secret society goes, shady, and you have an good story in the making. I appreciated how Haig introduced well-known historical figures in very appropriate and believable ways (Shakespeare) and how there was a good sense of emotional resonance in the tale. I was able to connect with the main character's humanness, and enjoyed the romp through time. A good read.
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On his job application to teach history at a London school, youthful looking Tom Hazard admits to being 41.  Actually, he's more than 400, having been blessed (or cursed) with a condition in which he ages incredibly slowly. Matt Haig's  How to Stop Time (Viking, digital galley) is entertaining historical fiction with a time travel twist. In present-day London, Tom follows the rules of the secret Albatross Society, which is made up of other "Albas'' who change their identities and locales every eight years and never, ever fall in love with "Mayflies,'' mere mortals. Tom still mourns the loss of his wife centuries ago and is looking for his daughter, another Alba, as flashbacks tell of his past adventures: playing the lute for Shakespeare's troupe; sailing with Captain Cook; drinking cocktails with Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.  Then a pretty French teacher claims to recognize Tom, and the head of the Albatross Society insists he recruit an old friend, and Tom finds himself at a crossroads. How is he going to live the rest of his life?
from on a Clear Day I Can Read Forever 2/18
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I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

I was expecting an adventurous romp through time, but that is not what this story is about. Unfortunately, I started this book, but then had a couple of holds come in and inherited the running of a book club. So, I had four books to read while I read this one; my attention was a little divided. I read in hour drabs over the space of a few weeks, but still I never felt engaged with the plot or characters until the end. 

Yes, part of that was my state of focus, but the other part was the slow burn of the plot with frequent interruptions of the narrative to engage in historical tourism as we discover elements of the protagonist's past. Add to that my expectations, and I felt disappointed. Tom, our protagonist, spent most of the book either too afraid to live or ready to tell everyone about his immortality. I get that the point was the worth of the risk we must all take to live and love, but the extreme of telling everyone just didn't make sense to me.  

That said, the last quarter of the book was much more engaging as the various threads of narrative came together in some fun ways. All of a sudden, I was interested in what was happening. I wish I could have felt the same through the whole book.
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How to Stop Time by Matt Haig is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late March.

The first-person narrator, Tom Hazard, is afflicted with anageria, aka eternal life. He works as a school headmaster in England and in service every 8 years to a man named Heinrich, who seeks to recruit people to the Albatross Society to note their activity, recruit others, and keep them safe from modern science projects undertaken by 'mayflies' (regular humans) on artificially prolonging life. Everything is very left-aligned, almost nostalgic and timeless with flashbacks between his 'past lives' (i.e. the birth of his daughter Marion, working with his awesome sailor friend Omai, run-ins with Shakespeare, Mr and Mrs Scott Fitzgerald, and copper rush Bisbee, Arizona) and the present day.
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First line: I often think of what Hendrich said to me, over a century ago, in his New York apartment.

Summary: Tom Hazard may look like an ordinary man but he is anything but. He is several hundred years old. He has seen the world change from Elizabethan England to the modern era. Sounds like a dream right? Maybe so but it can be lonely. When a group called the Albatross Society discovers him, he learns that there are many more people like him. Their main rule is to never fall in love. It complicates things. Tom has led many different lives but now he takes on a role that could jeopardize his existence, a history teacher. When he intrigues a fellow teacher, he has to decide if it is worth it to break from the rules of society or start over again.


    “I sometimes want to stop time. I sometimes want, in a happy moment, for a church bell never to ring again. I want not to ever have to go to the market again. I want for the starlings to stop flying in the sky…But we are all at the mercy of time.” 

Such a great story! I love the thought that someone can live forever and see so many things. I would love to be able to see the world of Shakespeare and the Roaring Twenties. These are iconic times in history. Being a history major, this book was right up my alley.

    “It’s not that long ago, not really. History is right here, Anton. It’s breathing down our necks.” 

I like that Tom does age. He is not immortal. He just ages slower than the average person does. He has demons. He wants to know what and who he is. He feels guilt. He knows love. He is a flawed character instead of the perfect ones in many stories of immortals. He has made mistakes and learned from them. He has not collected tons of wealth and profited off his condition. He has lived. He has searched for years for someone and never given up.

Lowlights: I listened to part of this on audiobook. The reader was good but when there are many changes from time and location it makes that story harder to follow. Tom often looks back at his past in order to help explain his present. However, while reading it flowed much easier.

FYI: It is already optioned to be a movie starring Benedict Cumberbatch!
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This one was just a little bit better than ok which is why I went ahead and gave it three stars. I really loved the plot of this book and think it could have been done SO much better. It really had a lot of potential but for the first half of the book it dragged quite a bit. It also jumped around in time which messed with the flow of the story. I did like that the character came across a few important figure throughout his life, in fact I wish there had been more of that! Towards the end it was a little rushed but it did end well.
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A man known currently as Tom Hazard has a secret.  He may look 41 years old but in reality, he is more like 500 years old.  He has lived through it all: wars, true love, Shakespeare, witch trials, etc.  Still missing his wife who died hundreds of years ago, Tom has pretty much checked out.  He would have tried even more drastic measures if his daughter wasn't out there in the world somewhere.  His life is controlled by the secret Albatross society, which takes care of his placements and documents.  Are they helping or hurting him?

I really wanted to like this book.  The plot itself is great, but could have been told so much better.  It's the writing style that just doesn't work for me.  Told too formally, in my opinion.
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