The first episode in a three book series, Rewinder is based in the year 2015. However, the America that Denny Younger knows is far different from our reality. As a lower class citizen in his culture, Denny is a nobody to the world. But after taking what could be described as a career placement test, he is employed by a secret group who reside at a strange location known as the Upjohn Institute.
Having tested with a strong aptitude for history, his job is to verify other individuals’ personal ancestries. The interesting part? He will study their history by travelling through time, with the simple assignment to “observe and report” his findings. After rigorous training to become a Rewinder, he is finally able to dawn his time travelling device, called a chaser, on his own and learn the secret backgrounds of other community members.
Learning the hard way that even the slightest mistake or interference with the timeline can have drastic consequences, Denny accidentally spurs a change that completely alters the world as he knows it. The story takes him through the journey of learning the history of this new reality. As he lives in this modified existence, he finds that things aren’t so bad compared to the life he knew in his old world. Struggling with an inner battle, he questions whether or not he wants to fix the mistake that he made.
Regardless of his decision, it will mean the genocide of an entire world. Which reality will he choose?
Rewinder was a fun read. Though it was predictable at times, there were still multiple twists that caught me off guard. It can be tough to find a good time travel novel. The science fiction genre has a seemingly endless array of options, including classics like The Time Machine by H.G. Wells and A Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury. When you mix those in with the ideas used in movies and tv shows like Back to the Future and Doctor Who, it is nearly impossible to come up with a new, unique idea on this topic.
Brett Battles didn’t redefine or generate an entirely new concept regarding time travel, but he certainly wrote an entertaining story that had some intriguing twists and turns. There was an enjoyable combo of American history (both real and fake), action, and suspense.
The only issue I had with the book was the lack of character development. Though Denny Younger was a strong protagonist, some of the other characters and his relationships with them were not developed as well as I would have hoped. This spurred some confusion as the paradoxes arose and led down strange pathways that didn’t seem to make sense. I will need to read the next two books in the series to see if these plot holes are filled.
For now, I will say that it was still entertaining and worth the read if you enjoy science fiction stories based around time travel.