An Ocean of Minutes

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 06 Jul 2018

Member Reviews

A wonderfully concise dystopian tale! Lim takes the classical dystopian set up and gives it a spin to reinvent the genre anew. I particularly love that she snatched away the perfect ending - how cruel, how perfect, how right.
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This novel didn't work for me, as a romance or as a time travel story, though ostensibly it's neither. Polly's experiences are a metaphor for the immigrant experience. This was probably the strongest aspect of the novel but it had lost me by then. The writing, as beautifully formed as it was, was just a little too melancholia inducing and I found the story gloomy. I disliked the relationship between Polly and Frank and wished the last two chapters had been chronological so at least the last feelings of the book would've been hopeful. Not for me or anyone expecting a typically romantic romance with a cliche happy ending or a sci-fi time travel adventure.
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I’m not normally one for scientific reads- this was a love story interwoven with time travel, yet it pulled me in and kept me hostage until the end.
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Loved the sound of this book and I wasn't disappointed. It's set in the 1980's - Polly and Frank are in love but Frank becomes Ill with a deadly virus and the only way to pay for his treatment is if Polly travels to 1993 - sounds odd and it is! But in a good way! They arrange to meet in 13 years time in a certain location but something goes wrong and Polly arrives a few years later. It's an unusual and original love story.
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Polly and Frank are in love, they have their whole lives ahead of them and plan on spending it together. But In 1981 America is hit by a flu pandemic, people are dying in droves and Frank gets sick. Although there is a cure it is extremely costly and the only way to get access to it is for a loved one to bond themselves to the company who owns it. Polly, unable to believe in a future without Frank agrees to work for this company and time travel 12 years to help rebuild the future. Polly and Frank devise a plan to meet in 12 years time, however things don’t go to plan and Polly ends up in 1998 instead of 1993, alone, with no idea where Frank is or how to find him.

An Ocean of Minutes has a fantastic premise, a fantastic title but something missing in the execution. I’ve been wracking my brain to think what that something was and I think (well, at least for me) it was the lack of character development. The dystopian future was painstakingly created and as such, felt real, almost tangible but not so for the characters which meant that when counter intuitive decisions were made it was just frustrating and once it happened a couple more times I was no longer invested. This was, for me, a bit of a disappointment. 

Thanks to Netgalley for providing an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
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As long as you don't question the mechanics of time travel (just as for any book in this genre), you'll find this thought provoking and compelling.

Having been a migrant myself, I particularly empathised with Polly's struggle to adapt when she s sent 12 years into the future to earn medical care for her beloved. After so many years have passed, neither he nor the world is the same yet Polly is still in her early twernties, an almost insurmountable problem.

Heart breaking and moving, this is a nice twist on the time travel theme.

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC without obligation.
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Before I even opened An Ocean of Minutes my eyes were instantly drawn to the cover. It was a cover that stood out due to its simplicity, yet I knew it contained a myriad of hidden meanings that I hoped the story would uncover.

And, yes this is a story that has many levels, the primary being that of love, and its true meaning not just in general but what it means to us on an individual basis. For Polly it is her love for her boyfriend Frank and the need to save him from certain death from a flu pandemic sweeping America. Unwilling to leave him to the vagaries of the public health care system, but give him the best care possible Polly signed up to and was transported to the future and 1993, agreeing  where and when they will meet when Frank finally catches up with her. But as we know the course of true love is never smooth and Polly finds herself in 1998, 5 years later, and a world so different from the one she left.

It is a world that I was instantly transported to, such were the vivid descriptions and imagery used by Lim. Polly’s frustration at not being able to make a simple phone call, send a letter, emanates from the pages and you have to read through gritted teeth as she meets brick wall after brick wall in her search for Frank.

The relationships she formed with her fellow time travellers are somehow more meaningful as they fight for food, sanity and survival, but it is her relationship with Norberto that is the most engaging and interesting. He is a man who she perhaps would not have been friends with in normal circumstances, but a mutual understanding led them to help one another. The consequences of their actions created some of the most dramatic moments in the novel and they had me literally turning the pages as quickly as possible to find out what happened next.

The latter parts of the novel are mesmerising, and emotive but I shall say no more for fear of revealing any spoilers!

This is a novel that had so much depth to it. It was thought provoking and hugely emotive, and certainly made me think about what love means to me and what I would do or feel if I was in the same situation.

The dystopian aspect is brilliantly done and I particularly liked that we weren’t sent somewhere into the future but back to a time that was so different from what I myself remembered. It was almost like having all the nice things and even some of the basics in your life stripped away, laying you bare to yourself and your emotions. I think that is why the novel was so emotive as Polly’s entire being centered around her search for her one true love, Frank.

As you can probably tell I loved this novel and I can honestly say it as good and if not better than its cover. I shall be donating my copy to the library in which I work, so that I can recommend to my customers and they enjoy An Ocean of Minutes as much as I did
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Such an unusual concept yet utterly absorbing. I Loved Polly and her determination. I'm sorry it didn't always go the way I anticipated or actually needed. Beautiful writing that gripped the reader from the start. Recommended.
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First-time author Thea Lim’s novel is an original and captivating read, a science-fiction story set in the past telling of a love affair threatened by the separation brought about by time travel. Above all it is about the impossibility of ever knowing what the future might bring, and the triumph of hope.

The year is 1981 and a disastrous flu pandemic strikes the southern states of the USA, the result of a little-regarded accident at the Center for Disease Control. Polly and Frank, head over heels in love, spontaneously decide to drive from Buffalo to New Orleans the week the accident happens, but they end up in Galveston instead, just as the borders of affected states are closed. Six months down the line, Frank falls ill and is at risk of dying. A lifeline is available however: by 1993 time travel has been invented, and, while it isn’t possible to go back in time far enough to prevent the pandemic, Polly has the option of travelling into the future as part of the Rebuild America Time Travel Initiative. She will go as an employee of TimeRaiser on a 12-year visa, and this will entitle Frank to the best healthcare available under their family healthcare benefits scheme. Polly will never be able to travel back, but she and Frank make detailed plans to find each other in September 1993, when she is due to arrive. 

Thea Lim has thought her dystopia out in consistent, terrifying detail. Two time-travel visa types are available - O-1 for people with special skills and extraordinary abilities (mostly Caucasian), and H-1, for what looks suspiciously like a supply of cheap low-skilled labour (mostly Hispanic). Polly, as a furniture upholsterer, is on an O-1 visa but the list of qualifying jobs is bizarre: acupuncturist, movie star, Grammy-winning  musician, chiropractor, massage therapist, beekeeper. As Polly prepares to leave, all around her people are having meltdowns and talking of rumoured re-routings to a time different to that on their ticket, but she is firmly fixed on saving Frank’s life so that their dream of a life together and a family can be realised. 

In what feels like the blink of an eye, Polly awakes, only to find herself in 1998 and a Galveston that is ravaged, unrecognisable. It is five years later than the date Frank was meant to come and find her, and the closed pandemic border is now the border between two countries, the United States in the north and America in the south. Polly is plunged straight into the work she is contracted to do, which turns out to be a project to turn Galveston into a prime tourist resort for visitors from the United States, built on what is practically slave labour as O-1s and H-1s work out their interminable bond to TimeRaiser whilst living in barely habitable conditions. 

Polly is a stranger in a strange land, and she is enterprising and passive in equal measures. Her early tireless efforts to work out where the planned rendezvous point with Frank might now be, and how to get there, gives way to a passive despair when September passes and there is no sign of him. As the months pass in exhausting drudgery, the tale becomes one of survival in an alien world, with just enough hope on Polly’s part to keep her hoping for a way to find Frank, never doubting that he too will be waiting to resume their former life together in spite of the passage of eighteen years. 

The final section of the novel is perhaps the weakest, feeling like a bit of a rush to finish the story. The promise of a happy ending is dangled in front of Polly, only for cruel reality to intervene. Polly is an awkward mix of passion, unrealism and passiveness, and I will admit to having found her irritating at times. But she is only 23 years old, in the throes of her first real relationship and full of hope for the future, a hope which is threatened by an unimaginably apocalyptic scenario which she fights in a way that exactly fits her character. The ambiguous conclusion is perhaps a sign that she is ready to grow up.

Compared to other first novels I’ve read recently, this has a remarkably tight plot. The vision of a dystopian future is painted consistently and convincingly, and although there is hope for us as readers that it takes place in our past and hasn’t happened, we are uneasily aware throughout that it very easily could. Thea Lim’s writing is readable and intelligent, and the narrative flows compulsively. Her pace flags a little in the middle and rushes a bit towards the end, but overall this is an assured debut that will hopefully be followed by more.
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Stories featuring pandemics, dystopia and time travel generally pique my interest: this one had it all! Still, I wasn't sure quite what to expect from it, and almost wondered, with the love story mentioned in the synopsis appearing to be at the centre, whether it might be too romantic for my tastes. 

Ultimately, it was too much for me but in a different way: it made me cry! Only one other book has had that affect in my adult life (We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler). Why? Quite simply, the ending broke my heart. I'd grown so close to Polly and, through her memories, Frank too. I hadn't realised how gripped by their love story and potential reunion I had become. That's masterful writing, particularly given that I was initially reluctant to engage with anything 'too romantic'. I've seen one review that suggested the writing style was haphazard or a 'brain dump' but I really enjoyed the style of writing, it reminded me of Steve Toltz's A Fraction of the Whole.

Well, I won't say too much more other than I highly recommend it.
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Please, please read this. It’s beautiful. I couldn’t be any sadder that it’s over. Set in the future which is our past..... it’s so clever. Loved Polly so much. You won5 be disappointed if you buy this. It’ll be worth every penny.
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I couldn’t get into this book at first so I will admit I put it to one side for a while. I returned to it and it has kept me reading this time.  It’s a little different to what I usually read so maybe it took some adjusting on my part.  It’s definitely well written that is for sure, and I found it really tense and sad.  I liked the ending and I think I may re read it again at some point as I think I will get more out of it second time round.
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An Ocean of Minutes is a story of time travel, love and surviving no matter what. The only other book I have read which involves time travel just so happens to be one of my all-time favourites; The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (don’t talk about the film – biggest let down ever). This too was a love story and touched by sadness. The similarities end there but I was nonetheless very taken with this novel. This book was wonderfully different to the genre of thrillers I usually stick to. One of the great joys I am finding from reviewing books is that I am stepping more outside of my comfort zone and really enjoying it.

We start in 1981 where there is a flu pandemic sweeping across The States. With the cost of treatment out of reach for most people they can pay for a loved one’s health care by time travelling with a firm called Time Raiser, to a period in the not too distant future where they will be needed to work. 

Polly, aged just 23 is desperately in love with Frank and when they get stranded in Texas and he contracts the virus, she doesn’t hesitate to sign up with Time Raiser in order to save his life. What follows is a tale of hardship, isolation and the power of the human spirit and a person’s ability to believe in love, no matter what.

Written in a simple style that somehow evokes the desolation of a world fighting to survive, this book is utterly heart wrenching and at times, I feel, gives us an insight in to how refugees must often feel when arriving in a foreign land with no status and no funds. Polly has to work her way through a world totally unknown to her but never at any point loses her focus; her true love. At times I loved her and at others I felt frustrated with her, but never once did I stop rooting for her!

I don’t want to elaborate on the plot any further (as always) but I must say that if you fancy a read that is a little different and utterly involving, then try this. Give it a go. I am so glad that I did and I hope you enjoy it too!

My thanks to #NetGalley and #QuercusBooks for a copy of #AnOceanOfMinutes in return for an honest review.
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2.5 stars ~ The story itself is okay and sorta tragic but it just did not turn out to be what I was hoping for. I was basically skimming through the whole thing, only stopping at the bits of dialogue I found interesting and probably the flashbacks of Polly and Frank’s relationship. I wasn’t a fan of the world building either but then again I am more of a sci-fi person. The time travel bit intrigued me but apart from that weren’t any other sci-fi elements which I was hoping for. I just had a different version of how the story would play out and when it didn’t, i guess i was disappointed.
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With such a fabulous title and one amazing cover. I was interested in this read.

An intriguing and beautiful novel, Polly was an extraordinary character and I loved following her life through the future.

Evocative and beautiful, it is an appealing read and one that will capture a lot of readers.
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I didn't even realize I was approved for this. This was archived way way before I got the chance to download it so I won't be reviewing this, obviously.
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Plot: In 1981, in the grip of a flu that’s killing people at an alarming rate, Polly makes the biggest decision of her life. In order to save the love of her life, Frank, who has tested positive, she will take a one way trip 12 years into the future to kill two birds with one stone: avoiding the virus, but also allowing her to use her pay to save Frank. They make plans to meet once she has reached “the future” – for Polly, it seems like only a day has passed; for Frank, it’s been years. But when she’s rerouted another 5 years into the future, their plans are thrown into disarray. On top of that, the new world is totally different – America is divided, she has zero rights and is in a bonded contract to work for the company that sent her to the future for over 30 months, with that time getting longer the more simple life necessities she needs to buy. Can she find Frank and resume the life she left behind?

My thoughts: This was a super interesting concept and done very well – I really enjoyed the two landscapes the author plunged us into and the true fear you felt on Polly’s behalf being trapped in a world she doesn’t know or understand with no way back. I always love a dystopian world novel, and this one not only fit that criteria for me, but also felt vaguely realistic, like it could really happen.
The story was at a lot of times heartbreaking and harrowing. Being told in alternating sections between the past and “future”, we get to delve deeper into the story of Polly and Frank’s relationship, building up a picture of how they came together and why Polly’s so desperate to find him again. The romance and sci-fi elements sat side by side really well for me here and I thought the novel as a whole was an excellent piece of work.
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An Ocean of Minutes pulls a bait-and-switch that I expect will frustrate and confuse some readers.  It appears to promise a pandemic/dystopia with a time-travel twist, and a bit of a love story to boot.  Instead, the book takes you on a tour of the immigrant experience.

Polly, our protagonist, is not just a time traveler, she's a refugee from the past and an indentured labourer trying to work off the cost of her passage.  She suddenly finds herself on the lowest rung of society, no status, money, or independence and in massive debt to her employer. The system is rigged against her and any attempt to navigate the mind-boggling bureaucracy is doomed to fail. 

Polly needs something to cling to, and that something is the hope of finding Frank, her boyfriend from the past. For Polly, their separation was only moments ago, but for Frank it's been seventeen years.  Through flashbacks, we see their relationship unfold, and gradually get a sense of whether Polly is right to believe Frank would wait for her. 

Through its time-travel conceit, An Ocean of Minutes portrays displacement and immigration without directly referencing any specific real-world situation, allowing the reader to focus on the human experience.  It's a clever trick and a gutsy one, since some readers may feel cheated that the book isn't the one they thought they were getting.  Personally I think the author could have gone even further in this direction, as it was an absorbing read with a novel approach.
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An ocean of minutes is a book that manages to combine quite a few genres.  It’s little bit dystopian and sci fi but it’s mainly a beautiful, usual love story.

The world that has been created in this book is very intriguing and I enjoyed learning more about it.  It’s quite similar in parts to the world that we know in that there is a definite class system in play with the poorer people trying to do anything to get by.  The only way some people can afford the costly treatment for the flu epidemic that has affected the population is to sign up with a time traveling company for a job with them in the future, though once there they realise this isn’t the brilliant fix they though it was.  It was quite chilling to realise how much control the company had on people and how hard they had to work to pay off their debt.

I loved Polly she seemed very clever and a hard worker, though at times was rather niave.  Her attempts to navigate the strange future world was heatbreaking at times and I really felt for her and the predicament she finds herself in.  Despite being classed as having a special skill the luxury she is promised doesn’t materislise and I could feel her upset and frustration as the bright future she hoped for fails to live up to her hopes.

The story is told in two parts.  One follows Polly and her life in the future, 5 years further in the future then she hoped for which of course adds Futher complications as it makes finding Frank more difficult than she hoped.  The other, told in a series of flash backs, focuses on Polly and Frank and the story of their life together.  It is very poignant and beautiful to learn more about this, especially when it impacts the future.  The two stories gradually come together and the ending was very uplifting and satisfying as it was great to see how far Polly had come.

Huge thanks to Ana at Quercus books for my copy of this book and for inviting me onto the blog tour.  This is definitely a book I will be thinking about for some time.
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An Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim is about a young couple named Polly and Frank. It is the 1980’s and a deadly flu has struck the population. Frank has contracted it and the only way Polly can save him is to travel into the future in exchange for his life saving treatment.

Neither of them can contemplate life without the other so they make a plan to meet up in the future but when something goes wrong and she ends up alone Polly ventures out to find Frank.

The first line of the book pulls the reader straight in: people wishing to time travel go to Houston Intercontinental Airport.

Frank doesn’t want Polly to go to the future, but Polly is adamant because it is the only way to get him the treatment he needs. Both of them are secretly worried that she will be rerouted to a different time, so they make a plan in case something goes wrong and one of them can’t make it. They arrange to meet the first Saturday in September, they’d go to the Flagship hotel in Galveston, until they found one another.

Frank will be fourty when they see each other again but she hopes that they will still be able to do all the things they planned together and to have the baby she longs for.

Whilst waiting to travel Polly suddenly begins to panic about the plan they have made to meet.

“Their Saturdays in September idea is suddenly sickening. It is like a plan a mother would make to keep from losing her children in a subway. It’s a plan able to withstand early – closing doors and a snarl of stairways, not the ocean of minutes that twelve years holds."

When Polly gets to the future they have sent her to the wrong year and Frank is nowhere to be seen. Polly is determined to get to him despite the obstacles this unfamiliar world sends her way.

An Ocean of Minutes had a lot of competition because science fiction is one of my favourite genres. I would say it was readable but not memorable and in the end it left me disappointed. The idea was one that warranted more investigation but there was nothing to capture my attention.
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