Remember Me by Brian L. MacLearn

By Ekta R. Garg

October 10, 2012

Rated: Borrow it

A man gets transported by a wormhole from 2010 to 1985 on the eve of his fiftieth birthday.  One of the consequences of his time travel becomes too much to bear, and he decides he has no choice but to live through the next 25 years and hope to go back through the wormhole a second time and set things right.  Author Brian L. MacLearn offers readers this promising premise that has its fair share of writing hiccups but ultimately proves to be an interesting book.

Andrew Johnson has married the love of his life, although he had to survive a previous marriage to find her.  On the night before his fiftieth birthday, Andrew goes outside to mow the back lawn in preparation for his big party the next day.  He thinks of the success of his blended family.  His wife, Amy, and he, both former divorcees, have children from their previous marriages, but everyone gets along and everyone likes one another.  Andrew counts his blessings as he makes his way toward a particular area of the backyard when a brewing storm unleashes a black hole.  The black hole envelopes Andrew and takes him via wormhole back to 1985.

Confused and frightened by his trip, Andrew goes back to his parents’ home.  His parents—particularly his mother—welcome him with open arms, but Andrew quickly figures out that his twenty-five-year-old self has already married Tami, his first wife.  This becomes evident when Andrew runs into Tami in a grocery store.  Tami thinks she recognizes the fifty-year-old Andrew, but he tries to brush off her recognition as a coincidence.

When Andrew realizes this encounter that lasts only a few minutes drastically changes one of the outcomes of his life in 2010, he makes it a mission to make the entire situation right.  He decides he will spend the next 25 years amassing as much wealth as possible so he can return to the same spot where the original black hole appeared and go through back to 1985 once again so he can fix what he views as a horrible mistake.  But when his method of earning his fortune starts to go awry, Andrew realizes he has more than one problem on his hands.

Author MacLearn gives readers a story that, in places, will make them think carefully about their own lives.  If someone gets the chance to relive certain portions of his or her life, would that person do everything the same?  How much would the person like to change about his/her life?  How much would that person’s interference in the past change the future?

Some sections of the book, however, would have benefited greatly from an experienced editor.  MacLearn wastes a lot of words on unnecessary explanations and repetitive phrases.  His flip-flop in verb tenses—sometimes mid-sentence—may frustrate readers.  Also, MacLearn’s main character, Andrew, spends a little too much time expressing his agony at “losing” Amy, his lifelong love.  The plot of Remember Me would have become much tighter if a good editor had had the opportunity to deal with some of these issues and more.

MacLearn gives readers too many details of the first five years of Andrew’s exile.  He spends the first 339 pages of the book on Andrew’s transportation back to 1985 and the five years that follow and then scuttles the last 20 years as well as the resolution in less than a hundred pages to end the book.  The story drags in portions because of this choice; MacLearn would have done better to pace the story throughout the entire 25-year period or found some other method for handling the passage of time.  Again, an editor would have helped immensely.

And while MacLearn spends considerable time on two of American history’s events—the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986 and the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001—Andrew makes absolutely no mention of other major events of the late 1980s and early 1990s such as: the Tiananmen Square Massacre of 1989; the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1990; or the death of Princess Diana in 1997.  Surely if Andrew felt the burden of helplessness during the explosion of the Challenger, he must have had some emotion tied to other events in the world.  But readers will not hear any of his thoughts on any of these or any other non-American events.

Still, MacLearn manages the prickly science around time travel fairly well, and readers may be somewhat interested in how MacLearn resolves Andrew’s dilemma.  I feel readers may enjoy Remember Me to a certain degree, if they are willing to be patient with some of the writing issues.

***

What the ratings mean:

Bookmark it!–Read this book and then buy it and add it to to your own collection.  It’s definitely worth it!

Borrow it–Check this one out from the library; it’s a worthy read, but think twice before spending your hard-earned money on it.

Bypass it–Free time is precious.  Don’t spend it on this book!

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