Cover Image: The Paradox Hotel

The Paradox Hotel

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Member Reviews

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of The Paradox Hotel.

The first rule of time travel is, “You do not f*** with the past.” The second rule of time travel is, “YOU. DO. NOT. F***. WITH. THE. PAST.”

Therein lies the problem with The Paradox Hotel.  While time travel is a very cool idea, it seems rather boring from a tourism standpoint. You can visit, but you can’t really DO anything.  What’s the point of going back in time if you can’t throw baby Hitler off the roof of the Heldenplatz? Or if violence against infants (even Hitler) isn’t your thing, go and grease some palms at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts and make sure the little dictator has a creative outlet for all that rage.  If you could do those things, then our protagonist, January Cole would not be employed at the Paradox Hotel.  She seems to be in-charge of making sure nobody has any fun on their time travel vacation. Westworld this is not.

As I approached the halfway point of this novel, there began a niggling in my head, that aside from 3 chicken-sized velociraptors making an appearance, nothing of much interest had happened yet. Rather the reader is expected to keep track of numerous characters and plot lines; past, present, and potentially future.  All from the POV of an unlikable, mentally unstable, hallucinatingly, unreliable narrator. 

I’ve always had very little patience with protagonists who, because of their actions, attitudes or ineptitude cause constant grief for themselves and others around them. January Cole fits squarely into this profile. 

While there was enough of a story there to continue; the time slippages, the hallucinations, the sense that there was no real way for the reader to determine what was “real” and what was “imagined” as a result of our narrator being Unstuck from reality, not to mention the potentially calamitous destruction of the entirety of human history and civilization, all brought about by the U.S. government trying to run a hotel, I continually found myself wishing it would end.

I’ll give this one 2 out of 5 stars. I was able to stick with it until the end and while the concept was neat, the story didn’t really grab me the way I’d hoped it would. I will keep Rob Hart on my radar and will certainly seek out more of his work in the future and from the past.
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Two years ago I had the pleasure of spending 3 nights at JFK’s TWA Hotel.  This is the only hotel attached to JFK airport, recently re-opened at the time of my stay, having been restored to all the grandeur of its mid-century heyday.  Staying there is a bit like being a tourist who’s traveled back in time, a bit like staying at an interactive museum and certainly worth a visit for anyone who seeking material for their Instagram feed.  

The Paradox Hotel is the only hotel attached to a timeport.  Much like people today book flights to destinations around the world, people in the future book travel to destinations in the past.  As the Paradox Hotel was described: its layout, its reputation with guests, its pros/cons, I was reminded strongly of the TWA Hotel and that specific hotel was my mental image as all the action in the book took place.  About 20% into the book, the TWA Hotel was itself referenced (in the author credits, Hart specifically thanks them for their hospitality) so clearly the physical structure and the way it adjoins JFK was the blueprint for The Paradox Hotel and the adjoining timeport. That takes nothing away from the story; just an interesting insight.

The story is set in the 2070’s.  Time travel is still new; the world economy is essentially in the hands of a few Ultra High Net Worth individuals, with some regulatory oversight that keeps government relevant.  The timeport is government-run but commercial time-travel is open to the public.  It is, of course, expensive and generally available only to the financial elite. “Regular people” can still experience time travel if they work in an industry that supports the endeavor – flight attendants for example. In the story time-travel and the timeport are owned, run and regulated by the U.S. government (see space exploration historically).  Like space exploration, time exploration is expensive and the USA is going to be auctioning off the timeport to the highest bidder whilst continuing to regulate the industry. The Paradox Hotel is hosting the bidders – the world’s top Ultra High Net Worth individuals.  This sets the stage for the story.

The protagonist, January, is the head of security at The Paradox Hotel as it contends with these competitive bidders and their entourages, along with the normal time traveling guests and the everyday operations of the hotel.  However, there are some disruptions happening with time, suspending time travel until they are resolved, and January herself is suffering from the effects of too much time travel, causing hallucinations and shifts in her experienced timeline- altering her perceptions of reality.

I liked this book – it’s full of action and snappy dialogue. The concept of time travel is not new in science fiction and mostly handled well here, though the shifts and hallucinations could get a little confusing; the story might lend itself better to a screenplay than a novel. The writing is fluid-it’s good, escapism sci-fi. Overall I give it high marks for its genre.  I also liked that there was a good representation of queer and gender non-conforming individuals.  They were just there earning their paychecks, the story could just as easily been told from a hetero-normative perspective but the reality is that some people have a same-sex partner and other people don’t visually conform to a gender.  None of those facts were central to the story – it’s never about a gay relationship or about being queer, the characters are just there, existing in the world where all the action is happening.

What I wasn’t comfortable with and ultimately what knocked this down from 5 stars is the heavy-handed progressive political views.  This is a trend I’ve noticed in books the last couple years and it’s unsettling.  In The Paradox Hotel, all UHNW individuals are evil, self-serving, competitive, with no interest in the common good.  The wealthy hotel guests are all supercilious, self-absorbed, entitled, borderline abusive towards paycheck earners.  January and all the hotel workers are depicted as long-suffering, forced to kowtow to the wealthy in order to make a living, but essentially “woke” and good people.  The good vs. evil dynamic has certainly been around since the beginning of written literature but there was no nuance here, no exceptions, and an implicit judgment of today’s reader if they don’t hold the “correct” progressive political view.

This trend doesn’t bode well for literature to be a medium of common ground, of thoughtfulness, of charity to those not like oneself.  

Thank you #NetGalley and Random House for this free ARC.
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The Paradox Hotel by Rob Hart is an excellent adventure around the concept of time travel. It is the future, and time travel now happens through a hub, like an airport where people gather, get in costume and following instruction travel to the time period they chose. We get a look at the administration around the organization, particularly security through the protagonist, January. She has traveled too many times and is involved in "time slips" where she sometimes experiences disorientating moments, where figures from her past, or previous adventures briefly appear.

Around this setting, there is murder, which happens under the difficult conditions surrounding the fact that the time travel operation was going to be bid upon. With all the potential bidders and their entourages gathering, the tension surrounding the mystery heightens.

I loved this book; the concept, the characters, and the plot.  This was one of those works that I read carefully as I did not want it to end, and chose to savor my reading experience. If you like science fiction, mystery, and great characters ,you will enjoy your time at The Paradox Hotel.
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Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Time Travel/Mystery

I loved the premise of a hotel for the uber rich who are preparing to take flights into the past. Welcome to the Paradox Hotel - The hotel is going private because it is costing more than it is earning. Trillionares are preparing to bid.

Visiting the past through Timeport costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. You may choose to go back to see the first showing of Hamlet, visit ancient Egypt, a favorite battle, the Triassic period, the Renaissance, and more.

January Cole is head of security for the hotel and she is what they call Unstuck ( your perception of time gets out of whack and fries your brain). She is slipping in and out of reality. She is our unreliable narrator and I had issues with her, I couldn't keep the jumping back and fourth between time periods straight. It went into mind bending territory! This is why it took me so long to finish. I re-read more than a few pages.

If you like time travel and a new spin on it, this may work for you. The plot is quite complex and takes some concentration. You can also expect a time cop, an AI drone, on site costumers for period travel clothing, live dinosaurs, a trip to the nineteen forties and much more.

Loved the blended genres, but I found it hard to follow.
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Excellent story! Totally engrossing!.  Looking forward to reading more by this author! Could not put this down!
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Blending greed and murder with the specter and consequences of time travel, The Paradox Hotel is a pulse-pounding, mind-twisting Sci-Fi thriller of the first order.  Rob Hart delivers a compelling and cerebral story that probes several deep topics – the moral ambiguity and governance of time travel, the intersection of money and politics, and a person’s journey through the stages of grief and self-introspection. 

The year is 2072 and January Cole, a former agent of the Time Enforcement Agency, is in charge of security at The Paradox Hotel.  Yet this is no traditional hotel.  Guests are dressed in the garb of bygone time periods and awaiting their flights at the nearby Einstein Intercentury Timeport, a time travel port that sends those with means back to witness historic events.  And if keeping the time traveling guests safe wasn’t hard enough, the US government has made the controversial decision to sell the Timeport and hotel to help with rising financial issues, making the facilities and the trillionaires who have come to bid on them major targets.  On top of this, January is suffering from a condition that gives her flashes of the future and reliving moments from her past that randomly occur while she’s trying to keep everyone safe.  Oh, and there’s one other little thing – she’s investigating a murder in the hotel but no one else can see the body or the crime scene.  Time is of the essence to find the murderer and figure out who’s trying to sabotage the sale…or reality as we know it might be irreparably changed. 

There are 3 aspects of The Paradox Hotel that hooked me and wouldn’t let me put the book down. First is the time travel aspect.  Rob Hart does a fantastic job of creating a world in which time travel exists, explains the technical aspects in a way that even a dummy like me can understand, makes it a critical aspect of the story from multiple angles and does all this while making it seem completely realistic and plausible.  Second is the crime and investigation aspect.  Looking beyond the time travel, we have an old-fashioned story of disgustingly rich people with hidden agendas vying to buy an extremely valuable property and they will do anything and everything to win…including sabotage and murder.  Which creates the main plotline of an investigation with multiple twists and turns with danger around every corner, not knowing who you can trust and an outcome that is most certainly in doubt until the end.  All hallmarks of a great detective thriller.

But the third aspect is possibly my favorite, which is the curious case of January Cole.  She is an exceptional, yet deeply flawed hero that you want to root for while also wanting to wring her neck.  She is fighting her own demons while trying to do her job and solve complex problems.  She lashes out at people who want to help her, using dark humor as a defense mechanism which serves to push these people away just when she needs them the most.  She’s trying to process her own grief and figure out how to become a better person while trying to not lose a grip on the good memories she had before tragedy befell her.  And she’s facing declining health that doesn’t look to have a happy ending.   All these things are incredibly relatable, make her human and easy to connect with despite her extraordinary intellect and talents.  

Simply put, I loved this book! It’s a fascinating and possibly realistic look at the future of our society. You don’t have to be a sci-fi wonk to enjoy The Paradox Hotel. If you like good murder mysteries and detective stories, then The Paradox Hotel is right in your wheelhouse. I wouldn’t call myself a big sci-fi reader, but this book really hit the spot. I got the same feeling of contentment after finishing it as I did after reading Andy Weir’s books. As such, I expect The Paradox Hotel will be a huge hit with both sci-fi fans and thriller fans alike.
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Update: I had a hard time writing this review. The Paradox Hotel is a complex story, and it was difficult to organize my thoughts about it. So after posting my review, I scrolled through some other reviews and found one by someone who said they abandoned the book after reading only 5% because the novel has a main character who’s a lesbian and another character who is non-binary. How amazingly sad that in 2021 people could still have such an attitude. How many great books do you have to avoid if you’re never willing to read about people who are a bit different than you? And the irony of it all is that as I had read the book, I thought that the inclusion of diverse, LGBTQ characters was simply a reflection of the fact that such people exist, and if you have enough characters in a story they won’t all be straight and cis-gendered. But reflecting on that dismissive review, I now think that having diverse, LGBTQ characters was probably a deliberate decision to develop the idea of one’s found family—bonded together in the face of such sad non-acceptance—that I had praised in my original review. So after additional thought, I’m bumping up my original rating from 3 to 3.5 stars.

Original Review: Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for sending me an ARC of The Paradox Hotel in exchange for an honest review. I quite enjoyed Mr. Hart’s last novel, The Warehouse, so I was excited to read his follow up effort.

The titular hotel in The Paradox Hotel is the playground of the super-rich before and after their time traveling trips to the past from the nearby Einstein Intercentury Timeport. But times are tough in 2072, and the US government is holding a summit at the hotel in which they plan to auction off the timeport to one of four trillionaires. January Cole is the hotel’s head of security, suffering from both a broken heart following the death of her girlfriend and from a time-traveling sickness that is slowly destroying her perception of reality. As the summit begins, January begins seeing visions of violence and death that has not yet occurred, and she must race against time and her own crumbling sanity to solve the mystery before someone can successfully rig the auction and steal the timeport. 

January Cole herself is the best part of The Paradox Hotel. She’s got all the cynical and sarcastic traits you’d expect from a lead detective in a novel with the noir vibes found here. But she’s heartbroken and damaged too, staying in a place she knows is making her ill just for the chance to relive old memories with her lost love. The novel also touches on a number of ideas—grief and loss, found family, workplace drama, and the dangers of income inequality and privatization—that must be rather important to Mr. Hart as they all featured in various degrees in The Warehouse too.

But I struggled with the plot here. There are quite a few rules about time travel and January’s illness, and they are still being introduced even during the climax of the story, which made the mystery portions of the story rather challenging to follow. And after building to a final confrontation, the novel makes the puzzling decision to have significant portions happen offscreen, or simply be summarized rather than shown. I suspect I won’t be alone in being more interested in January’s personal story, and her relationships with her co-workers, than by the mystery itself. I liked The Paradox Hotel, but it is likely too speculative and out there to have the same mass appeal as The Warehouse.
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It's 2072 and the super rich (think trillionaires) visit the Paradox hotel prior to leaving on a time jump to the past. Run and regulated by the US government, the jumps are a series of trips based on important times in history (see dinosaurs! King Tut, Colonial Days and so on ). 

January Cole is head of security at the hotel. She is grounded there due to her "time slips" a result of too many jumps in her previous job of keeping the peace in the time traveling world.  Too often, uber wealthy believe that they can bring back a token or change history and it was January's job to stop them. Now she is the security in the magnificent Paradox Hotel. She is a strong, likeable female character that is still hurting from the death of her soul mate Mena.

As the story opens, we learn that the time jump program is hemorrhaging money and the government is actually selling it and the Paradox hotel. Four of the most powerful men (!) in the world are coming to the hotel for an important meeting to determine who will take on ownership. January is charged with keeping the hotel secure which is a fete in itself. Someone, or some thing is working against her and she fears that she cannot keep the hotel secure. Thus begins a cat and mouse detective noir plot that will keep you guessing until the end .

Add a to the plot a charming floating bot, a know-all front desk person and a moody genius chef and you have an ingenious plot with lovable characters. I highly recommend this novel for it's plot, it's ideas and it's emotional depth. There is something for everyone and I promise you, you will enjoy it!
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A pretty good cross genre novel, although I'd put it in the scifi category. I liked the premise and story telling. It kept me mostly engaged, and has some entertaining moments. Hart has a good imagination, and probably a long career ahead of him.

I really appreciate the free ARC for review!!
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My thanks to Random House/Ballantine. Rob Hart and Netgalley.
I just flat out loved this damn story. 
It's going to do science things.😕 I'm cool with science, until I'm not! Then I just go.with it. This? I went with. Fact is that I loved the entire story line. Best thing about that is that real science?.Ugh, fuck it! I'll worry about that in another life!
I'm still.not sure how I feel about that ending. I get it, but I wanted otherwise.
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Overall, a really great book.  I loved the take on time travel and an overall time paradox.  However, I feel like it felt lacking at times.  January Cole was an intriguing character that faced adversity at every turn and still seemed to come out on top.  I liked her witty banter with everyone around her and her sarcastic, self-deprecating humor.  The overall pace of the story was very well managed.  It moved along at a good pace while still leaving suspense but not slogging along for the sake of drawing out the story.  Some of the plot elements were a bit confusing or not well fleshed out, but this was a minor issue as the overall story and characters more than made up for it.

My only real complaint is that I would have liked a bit more of a backstory for not only January Cole, but on the whole time travel capability.  Maybe this could be something for a prequel if the author so desires as I feel there is a lot to explore there that could greatly benefit The Paradox Hotel.
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Thank you to Ballantine Books for sending me a copy of The Paradox Hotel.  I read Hart's first book, The Warehouse, and enjoyed it.  The Paradox Hotel was a bit of a struggle to get through and to be honest, I almost gave up, However, I wanted to give a review based on the whole book.  I found this book difficult to follow. At first it was because of January's time slips. (Maybe the font should change or be italicized?) After I got used to that, it was the amount of underdeveloped characters who I couldn't keep up with. Finally, it was the overkill of events: Dinosaurs, ghosts, time slippage, trillionaires, a senator ,murder, the CDC, a blizzard, the TEA , missing people, a secret room and much more.  I couldn't keep up and nothing seemed to work together to present a cohesive story.  The "big reveal" was lackluster and predictable.  Characters I liked were Mena, Cameo, Mbaye and Ruby.  The rest were just uninteresting.  Especially January who I didn't find believable at all and pretty much hated.  I found the time-slippage angle of January being "Unstuck" interesting but not written well-enough to pull me back in.  Unfortunately this one was a miss for me but I'm willing to give Rob Hart another try.
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It's a time travel murder mystery with a romance subplot that cut me to the core in places. Thoroughly enjoyed the ride this book took me on.
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Getting ready for a trip through time? Well then the odds are you have a reservation at the Paradox Hotel. I have to say this is one heck of a trippy adventure. While at it’s core it’s a murder mystery in a sci-fi setting, it could easily fall into half a dozen other genres. What’s the story about? Read the book blurb because I don’t think I can do any better explaining it, without letting slip several spoilers, lol. 
     I will say if you are like me and have a tendency to read multiple books concurrently, you might not want to do that with this book. Given that time travel is a central component of the story and there are quite a few twists and turns, not to mention the story features a decent sized cast of characters, it’s definitely a book you’ll want to give your undivided attention to, but if you stick with it (and pay attention) it’s quite the adventure, though as I mentioned above, I probably would have enjoyed it even more had it been the only book I was reading at the time. 
     I’d like to thank Random House and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review an eARC of The Paradox Hotel.
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Rob Hart follows up his first book, The Warehouse, with another excellent sci-fi thriller, this time featuring January Cole, a detective at a unique hotel for time travelers who must solve a "locked room" mystery while experiencing increasing effects of becoming "unstuck in time" (e.g. hallucinating people and events from both the past and future) due to her years policing the time stream. 
Add this one to your TBR pile for 2022! Thanks to Penguin Random House and Netgalley for the advanced e-galley copy.
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Abandoned after 5% read.

I didn't realize this book had strong political, LGBT themes - the main character is a lesbian, and already a non-binary character has been introduced.

I read fiction primarily for fun, so I really dislike political correctness in my books.
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Thanks to NetGalley and Random House/Ballantine for. providing a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I loved The Warehouse so was really looking forward to seeing where Rob Hart went next. It was well worth the wait.

Wealthy greed and time travel make for a powerful combination and January Cole is right in the middle of it. Shes trying to keep things under control at the head of security at the Paradox Hotel where rich time travelling passengers are never satisfied and organize a summit for trillionaires as the same time. Then time travel is suspended for unknown reasons, flooding the hotel with stranded, rich, entitled pasengers. Her trusted AI assistant is finding unexplained glitches with hotel surveillance. She has health problems that shes trying to hide from everyone while continuing her job. She finds a dead body that no one else can see. Then things REALLY go sideways.

There is so much going on in this novel, but in Harts skilled hands it never got too confusing or out of control. His take on how time travel in the future could be severely abused in non obvious ways was intriguing. I loved how the layers of the story kept unraveling and the there was plenty of humor, action and intrigue to keep me guessing to the end.

If you like intelligent scifi/mystery/thrillers you should definitely check this one out.
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January Cole is head of security at the swanky Paradox Hotel, but it's not a normal place; it's the official hotel for people who are heading next door to Einstein, a time travel facility. The hotel hosts tour groups that are in period costume, prepped, and ready to travel to different points in history in the blink of an eye. When January finds a dead body in one of the hotel rooms, a body suspended in time that no one else can even see, it's baffling. A locked-room murder mystery that's already happened or might not have happened yet. And who IS that corpse anyway, someone from the Time Enforcement Authority, staff, or a guest? To make it more interesting, January suffers from a severely broken heart and is bitter, cynical, and hostile to her colleagues.

This is a fun and interesting read, an interesting mix of drama and sci-fi, with some quantum physics and love story elements thrown in for good measure. It's also a bit confusing. No, more than a bit confusing, and the endless hostility of January towards colleagues, real and virtual, gets a bit tiring after a while. Still, Hart is a promising sci-fi writer (I quite enjoyed his earlier book The Warehouse) worth checking out.
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The Paradox Hotel is an entertaining murder mystery set in the future.  The hotel caters to time traveling tourists and the hotel staff includes time travel agents, futuristic beings and ghosts.  The story unfolds with a snowstorm causing canceled trips, guests exceeding hotel capacity and wealthy guests arriving to bid on the sale of the hotel.  Hart expertly creates an atmosphere of chaos with strange events but also weaves in a story of love and loss.  I thoroughly enjoyed #TheParadoxHotel.

Special thanks to NetGalley, Rob Hart, and Random House Group/Ballantine publishing for the advanced copy of The Paradox Hotel. #TheParadoxHotel #NetGalley
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The Paradox Hotel by Rob Hart

Stick with this, it starts confusing and well, ends a bit confusing but is still worth reading.   The Paradox Hotel is where the time travelers stay before going through the Einstein time portal.  January Cole is the hotel detective.   Her interaction with the rest of the characters is really the core of the plot.
There is a plan to use the time portal to change history to benefit someone.  I am not clear as to whom but there are speculations or possibly inferences.   
January is of the school that tampering with history can be catastrophic.   The villains all feel that as long as the historic tampering benefits them, all is well. 
The book had some interesting premises.
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