An Ocean of Minutes

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 10 Jul 2018

Member Reviews

I enjoyed Thea Lim’s “Ocean of Minutes,”  and would liken it to some other realistic science fiction/post apocalyptic novels akin to “Station 11.”  Is an interesting combination of historical and futuristic fiction that weaves together a highly plausible tale centered around Polly, the main female protagonist, and her quest to save the man she loves from a deadly flu virus that decimates the population  and irrevocably changes the landscape of our nation.  It is at once a meditation on love, perseverance, and the lengths people will go to in order to save a memory & preserve or reinvent the future.
Was this review helpful?
In 1981, the world is struck by a terrible flu. Frank falls sick and there is no way he can afford the very expensive treatment. So his girlfriend Polly decides to travel to the future and work for a company called TimeRaiser. In return, they will give Frank the cure that will save his life. The couple plans to meet up in 1993, but Polly is sent to 1998 instead. She finds herself in a very unexpected world, where she is subject to the strict rules and regulations of TimeRaiser employees. When Frank doesn't show up to their rendezvous, Polly is at a loss for what to do next. She traveled across time to make sure they would be together; what will she do if they can't?

An Ocean of Minutes has been pitched as similar to Station Eleven, but I think the two books are very different. While Station Eleven skips some time, we still see people navigating the aftermath of an epidemic. Polly sees little of the aftermath, since she travels 17 years into the future and her days are restricted to the workplaces and shoddy accommodations of TimeRaiser. An Ocean of Minutes is instead a story about class and poverty and how impossible it is to "work your way" into a better life. It's about trying to find the people and places that make up your home when everything has changed.

Thea Lim has smartly given us Polly and Frank's love story in the midst of Polly's current desperation. When she doesn't know how to find him, it is that much more painful because we have seen their relationship grow and we know how much they adore each other. An Ocean of Minutes is one of those stories where you hope that your protagonist will find what she is looking for and sigh in frustration at every barrier that she encounters. But those barriers caused by individuals and bureaucracy are exactly what makes this story seem so plausible, even as they break our hearts and threaten Polly's hope for a happy ending.

An Ocean of Minutes
By Thea Lim
Touchstone July 2018
320 pages
Read via Netgalley
Was this review helpful?
This book is about time travel, love, and the immigrant experience. Timely, and perfect for a book club!
Was this review helpful?
This was such an interesting book. I feel like I say that a lot but this was so odd. I don’t know another word for it. Interesting, unique, different.. odd. But I found myself devouring it. It was completely different than anything I had ever read. Polly and Frank’s relationship had me on the edge of my seat and I was physically unable to put this book down until I discovered just what their fate was. Would I travel 12 years into the future to save my boyfriend from the flu? Probably not. Just kidding. I think. Polly’s character was so strong and persistent. This chick would NOT take no for an answer. I loved this about Polly’s character. I loved the realness of her and Frank’s relationship. They loved each other, they bickered and argued, they fought over stupid stuff, but they loved each other. It wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies. I loved that.

The setting of this story was so interesting to read about. I mean.. imagine traveling to the year 2030. How insane would that be? What would you take with you? What do you currently own that you think would still be valuable 12 years down the road? These are the questions I asked myself while reading.

To wrap this up, if you vibe with dystopian/sci-fi/time travel/chaotic/unique love story books, read An Ocean of Minutes. I can truthfully say that I have never read a book like this. Also – it was published July 10th! I am still seeing this book talked about everywhere, so hop on the bandwagon and give it a read.
Was this review helpful?
“TimeRaiser is a good company. We’ll protect you. Today, or rather tomorrow, is the first day of the rest of your life. It’s a gift.”

In the year 1981, the flu has devastated the world. When the ability to time travel becomes a reality, doctors attempt to go back to the beginning to prevent the flu from ever becoming an issue but limitations on travel prevent them from going back that far. Being infected is certain death and when Polly’s boyfriend Frank becomes infected, she agrees to a 32-month contract with TimeRaiser: in exchange for medical aid to cure Frank, Polly will travel to the year 1993 to help rebuild the physical elements of society. Goodbyes are conducted quickly with the two promising to meet the year she was due to arrive except Polly finds herself in the year 1998 instead. Filled with uncertainty in a world that used to be familiar, Polly must learn to cope with the past decisions that have changed her future irrevocably.

‘She had done it all without understanding the weight of what she was doing. Until this moment, the choice she’d made had kept its true, perverse nature secret: it was irreversible, and only comprehensible after it was done.’

With flashes between past and present, An Ocean of Minutes tells the story of Frank and Polly and why Polly would be willing to make such a monumental decision so that the two of them had a chance for a shared future. This story shares many genres, time travel, post-apocalyptic, and romance, but Lim balances the elements nicely and one never overwhelmed the other. The post-apocalyptic aspects were eerie, with the United States of America being divided into a section called The United States and a separate section called America. TimeRaiser’s employees are assigned codes based on the type of work they are assigned to do with some individuals making new tiles for new flooring, or other individuals ride exercise bikes all day to power resorts (reminding me vividly of Fifteen Million Merits. Any Black Mirror fans?) Polly is fortunate enough to be a skilled laborer and is assigned to restore old furniture where she’s granted certain liberties that regular “Journeymen” are not.

Life is still far from easy and nothing like the life that she left behind and Polly is forced to deal with far more than she ever anticipated when she signed up. Finding Frank is always at the forefront of her mind and was what kept these pages turning most for me: I was eager to know if Polly’s sacrifices would pay off for her and possibly Frank as well. The story’s pace is admittedly unhurried and despite the shocking nature of the world Polly finds herself in, it’s not exactly what I would call thrilling. Despite all this, I found myself completely enthralled in finding out the ending. The story concludes instead with a life lesson on impermanence, the reality of change, and a bit of a cynical approach to love. Realistic or not, I found it concluded most disappointingly.

‘In her heart, the past was not another time, but another place that still existed. It was just that she had taken a wrong turn.’
Was this review helpful?
In some ways Thea Lim's debut novel defies classification. There is time travel but the book is still set in the futuristic past. It's almost a dystopia but not quite. It deals with forced immigration and forced labor in an extraordinarily unusual way. It's a love story but then it isn't at all. In short, it's a conundrum, but one of the best kind. One that will sit with you for a long time after you read it. One that you will tell everyone you know they need to read it. One that you could read again for the first time. An Ocean of Minutes was definitely one of the best books I read all year, maybe of all time. 

Thanks Net Galley and Touchstone for the early read!
Was this review helpful?
For fans of The Time Travelr's Wife and Station Eleven, An Ocean of Minutes is a stunning story of relationships, time and power. When survival on earth is endangered by a viral outbreak, Polly trades years of service by time traveling to the future for treatment for her lover Frank in the present. Although they arrange to meet each other twelve years in the future, Polly is rerouted five years past the time she and Frank arranged to meet. When she arrives, the world has changed completely and she must learn to navigate in this new world as well as find a way to find the man she loves.

I found myself racing through this book with my heart in my throat, wondering if Polly would survive, if she and Frank would reunite, and riveted by the underlying themes of time, power and privilege explored by the novel.. Not only is this a fascinating story, it's a powerful exploration of culture and values. I was literally unable to put the book down until I had finished every last word.
Was this review helpful?
Thea Lim has created an emotionally engaging, character-driven story of what one will do for love in her sophomore novel An Ocean of Minutes.

I saw this book mentioned on another blog and thought it looked promising for the post-apocalyptic book club I attend. Since we were setting our calendar at the July meeting, I was happy to find it at NetGalley.

Once I started reading An Ocean of Minutes, I didn't want to put it down and found myself greedily consuming large chunks of the story each day. I quickly became emotionally invested in what was going on with Polly. I wanted her to have her happy ending.

There is a flu pandemic that is ravaging the world. Treatment is available, to those that can afford it. Time travel is possible, though they can't travel far enough back to stop the spread of the illness. In exchange for health benefits (access to the cure) for loved ones, healthy individuals can sign up to travel to the future as bondservants in order to rebuild the country where 90+% of the population succumbed to the illness. Polly has a needed skill - she can re-upholstery furniture, and her boyfriend Frank has just contacted the illness. She signs up to go and due to her needed skills, she is given special status. But things in the future aren't how Polly imagined.

This is not your typical time travel story, but it does have interesting socio-economic implications that I hope to explore with my book club when we read this story in April. Once Polly is transported to the future, the story splits between Polly's time in 1998 and her memories of her life with Frank. I liked that Polly and Frank's relationship unfolds backwards from the 1981 time point that begins the story. The symmetry between Polly travel forward in time through technology and the reader traveling into the past through memories is somewhat poetic.

I wasn't sure if I liked Polly at first. She was kind of hard to get to know. But just as Frank fell in love with the somewhat emotionally closed off person, so does the reader as her actions speak louder than her words. By the end of the book, I was growing misty-eyed as the magnitude of all that Polly went through for her loved one hit her (and me as the reader). Can you imagine traveling 17 years into the future?

I feel funny saying this was an enjoyable read, as much of what is going on is depressing, but I did really like the story. I'm so happy that my book club is going to read it as I think there is a lot of good stuff for discussion.
Was this review helpful?
Crazy/Beautiful, a beautiful chaotic love story like no other that I've read. Thea Lim had crafted a masterpiece infusing love, time travel, and testing love's limits. I was left utterly speechless at its end. I greatly appreciated the deep connection that was created between Polly & Frank. What was most striking was the strength and fire that was lit inside Polly. Polly was a fascinating character that had to endure a lot in testing time and the strength of their love. Thea has created a page-turner that will be devoured by the lover of romance, science, fantasy, and various genres due to her talent of blending all of them together is such a timeless peace. Thank you Touchstone Books for a beautiful physical Arc and an e-copy. Utter applause to Thea Lim.
Was this review helpful?
can true love stand the test of time..... even when one of you is tossed 15 years into the future? Polly takes a chance that making this time leap and working off the debt to pay for Frank's medical treatments will be worth the risk. When she discovers she is struggling to find Frank again she is in an unfamiliar place, with no way to survive herself. Is their love strong enough to survive? Or has Frank found another love in the 15 years they were apart.
Was this review helpful?
It was quite a refreshing story which I thought was going to be a bit boring but I was wrong!  Time and Again is what I thought of when I finished reading it. Loved it.
Was this review helpful?
An Ocean of Minutes

Thank you to NetGalley and Touchstone for an advanced read in exchange for this review.

America is in the midst of a deadly flu pandemic.  Frank catches the virus, and Polly is desperate to save him.  Time Travel has been invented, and if Polly goes to the future as a laborer, Frank’s treatment will be paid for.  Frank and Polly agree to meet at a time and place.  However, Polly is rerouted an extra five years and Frank is no where to be found.  Now she must navigate her life and find Frank.

I think the biggest problem for me with this novel is that it is compared to Time Traveler’s Wife.  That comparison needs to be erased immediately because I struggled with the book.  I didn’t connect to Frank and Polly’s love story.  I struggled to feel their romantic connection, which is the star in TTW.  AOOM focuses a lot more on the time travel aspect and the love story kind of falls behind.  It’s a good story overall, but maybe drop the comparison.
Was this review helpful?
This book has an interesting concept. It is in the vein of station eleven. I found it an intriguing read. I would recommend it. 

I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion of it.
Was this review helpful?
In the spirit of Station Eleven, Lim does an excellent job at showing the complexities of human relationships when faced with overwhelming odds. A definite read!
Was this review helpful?
Really interesting premise, where people travel to the future to escape a plague and (sometimes) to purchase health care for stricken loved ones. Once they arrive 10-15 years in the future they work as indentured servants for the company that transported them. Polly makes such a trip to try to save her boyfriend, then spends her time trying to reunite with him in the strange world she has arrived in. I found the ending pretty realistic but unsatisfying, but liked the novel as a whole.
Was this review helpful?