I can't remember where I first read about this novel, but the premise really grabbed me. I'm generally a sucker for time travel and this one sounded unique. Unfortunately, the premise was more captivating than the novel as a whole. The book goes from interesting to obnoxious as our unnamed narrator eventually encounters a dozen or so of his future selves, each telling him to pursue one thing, and the next telling him it won't work, instead he should do something equally as odd. This goes on for three hundred pages and by the end it just feels trite.
Overall, the novel seems to convey the idea that no matter what path you take in life, you will get shit on eventually. It may be true that one path will lead to more happiness and satisfaction than the other, but you will undeniably encounter some level of discontent regardless.
You still don't understand do you? There is no certain path to fame or happiness. The best you can hope for is to attempt to understand the mystery or existence and attain some measure of inner peace.
The book could easily be edited down to 250 pages or so (from 385) removing superfluous conversations that serve as metaphors for time and destiny. In addition, if an author is going to use time travel as a plot device, I think he or she should also include some sort of explanation as to how this time travel works. Audrey Niffeneger attibuted it to a genetic mutation, Stephen King detailed a storeroom portal that takes you back to the same day in 1958 each time you enter it. But in Q, we have a brief dialog that really just glazes over the subject all together, explaining one doesn't need to understand how something works in order to draw from its benefits. I don't need a detailed account of the science behind said time travel, but give a girl something to work with. For instance, do you age while you travel back in time? How long does it take to travel? Is it instantaneous? The fact that Mandery didn't include any nuts or bolts relating to time travel made the majority of the plot seem unauthentic.
Finally, for an ending that boasts it will warm even the coldest of hearts, it really felt lackluster. I was expecting a tsunami of emotions, and I got the tiniest of splashes. I consider myself a pretty warm-hearted person and I am moved by stories fairly easily. This one just missed the mark.
Publisher: Harper, 2011