Trapped in Time by Clay Brandenburg is more of a romance set in World War 2 than a science fiction novel…but it does have an element of time travel! No time travel…no romance!
The plot is sweet and simple. John gets transported back in time to 1944 in Germany where (when) he’s injured but nursed back to health by a local girl (Klara). Knowing about the upcoming Dresden bombing, the couple head to Dresden to warn the Klara’s parents of its impending destruction and to hopefully secure their escape.
Trapped in Time strikes me as a Young Adult novel – quite a lot is spelled out with some sensational and superlative language. The writing is fluent though, and many short chapters make it an easy read.
My main gripe would be that the dialogue between the characters is too ‘perfect’…though perhaps this is a good thing so that young adults learn how to speak properly, you know, like, yeah…well whatever man! 😉
I think it’s fairly clear that time travel is primarily used in Trapped in Time as a means to place the characters from different times into a common setting; the mechanics of time travel are not given, and indeed they would have seemed out of place here. That said, I thought that the chances of a repeat meteorological phenomenon occurring to be quite slim – there’s even an expression for it!
Anyway, this isn’t a time travel novel as such; more of a romance between 2 characters each of whom have had a troubled past and manage to find each other. But (thankfully) this isn’t an out and out slushy romance novel. The relation between John and Klara grows by them sharing a growing history with each other, and this develops with their common goal of rescuing Klara’s parents on the back of John’s knowledge of the future.
Although I don’t have a strong interest in history, this novel shows that it can be handy to have some knowledge of it! That’s a lesson for me!
The closing chapters (including the epilogue) are the most interesting part of the novel for me, where some aspects of time travel come into play. This is the area where the reader is allowed to think and guess what the outcomes might be, and the complexity of the consequences of time travel. Does time pass concurrently in the past and in the present, and if so is it at the same rate? What are the conditions for time travel, and are they reproducible? The questions are there, and Clay addresses them in a gentle and accessible way.
I’d recommend Trapped in Time as an introduction to the time travel genre for a young adult (but with the warning that there is an attack scene which maybe unsuitable for some young adults) and for those who are interested in historical fiction.
I’m giving Trapped in Time 4 stars because the sci-fi time travel fan version of me who’s no longer a young adult and who’s reading it now gives it 3 but I’m pretty sure that the 18 year old me would have given it 5!
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