BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Hazards of Time Travel by Joyce Carol Oates [in Booklist]

Prodigious Joyce Carol Oates’ latest novel reads rather like a mash-up of The Hunger Games, The Handmaid’s Tale, even A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. In 2039, in the Reconstituted North American States, 17-year-old Adriane Strohl is “the spiky-haired girl with the big glistening dark-brown eyes and a voice with a little catch in it and a habit of asking questions.”

Perennially youthful-sounding Andi Arndt sustains that inquisitive lilt as Adriane’s very existence is repeatedly challenged. Her valedictorian address in which she asks questions, “the kind my classmates might have asked if they’d had the nerve,” gets her exiled to Zone 9 in 1959, ironically called the Happy Place. She’s now Wainscotia State University freshman Mary Ellen Enright with a “new, abbreviated identity.” Vague memories of her former life send her searching for answers – and for others like her.

Arndt captures Adriane/Mary Ellen’s precarious journey, aurally shifting from innocence to determination, shocked submission to desperate persistence, tenacious hope to exhausted acceptance … of sorts.

Review: “Media,” Booklist Online, March 29, 2019

Readers: Young Adult, Adult

Published: 2018


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