How To Stop Time by Matt Haig; an honest review

How To Stop Time or 'How this incredible read stopped time'

Even the dust jacket on the book is beautiful. 

How to Stop Time has to be the most anticipated book of this year, if I may say so myself. I do believe that the hype began months ago when there was speculation that Benedict Cumberbatch would play the main character Tom Hazard in the film adaptation. I will be frank, I thought it was ridiculous at first, how a book that no one has read (or that has been published yet!!) would have such incredible interest, only because a popular actor might potentially play the main character.

That is not to say that I didn't have very high expectations of the novel. Having read some of Matt Haig's previous works, I knew what he was capable of; not only does he have a special connection with human empathy and knows how to put it on paper, he writes deeply from the heart which can be seen from every work he has written, but especially Reasons to Stay Alive. 

Admittedly, as soon as I delved into what the novel would be about a few months ago, I couldn't contain my excitement; not only did it involve a 439 year old history teacher who looked no older than 40, it gave me The Time Traveller's Wife vibes, which is one of my favourite novels. If you haven't read that, go go GO. Read it. NOW!

I know How to Stop Time was released last Thursday, but having preordered the book when I booked for Matt Haig's event and book signing in Birmingham for last night, I decided it would be a bit stupid to buy another copy just to read it early. So here my torment began. It became a mission to try and avoid any spoilers I could see emerging on Twitter (some people are inconsiderate twats, let me tell you), or any reviews. Not that I ever read reviews, I find it pointless to read someone's thoughts on a book, unless I know they have similar book interests to me. So if you have made it this far, I applaud you, its another boring review, but the book is simply incredible. 

The event last night was nothing short of amazing; I have had a long day at work, and it definitely did put a smile on my face to have such a personal experience of being able to listen to Mr Haig speak about this novel and how his previous books have affected it. I wasn't the only person who picked up on the small reference to this new novel in Reasons to Stay Alive, and it was very fascinating to hear that Matt has been planning this book for a while. I was very impressed with how much research he seemed to do for this book, and later when I read the novel I was not disappointed. By no means am I a historian, but I enjoy Elizabethan history and it was fun to read some of the exchanges between characters. 

Especially between Tom and William Shakespeare. That was ace. 

Picture showing the conversation with Matt Haig last night in Birmingham Waterstones. Picture courtesy of WaterstonesBham (@BhamWaterstones on Twitter). It was very funny; Haig's voice is as deep as Alan Rickman's.

It comes as no surprise for any of you who know me, that I inhaled the book in pretty much one sitting. I have always been a fast reader, but the more interesting the book, the faster my eyes move over paper (at least that's what it feels like 📚). From the very first page, I found myself absolutely hooked. The retrospective "The first rule is that you don't fall in love," was enough of a hint to know that that was exactly what Tom Hazard would do. And I wanted to know more, about this man with a, aptly named, 'condition'.

The story isn't written chronologically, it shows the reader different points in time, from the perspective of the protagonist. It's very cleverly written, as every retrospection links to the 'now' part of the book, showing Tom's progression as a human and how much he has learned from his previous experiences. I wouldn't say that the novel is a love story, per se, but there is a continuous theme of love (various types, not just the romantic eros) throughout it. 

There is a refreshing versatility in Tom's character; I feel that when you have a character who is over 400 years old, there is a threat of making them too 'Mary-Sue' or too knowing/mature/clever. You get the drift. The protagonist, however, is a very flawed, innocent, indeed clever, talented and sensitive man. And its absolutely beautiful. 

I should probably stop here, since I don't want to spoil too much, but I have to admit, one of my favourite parts of the book was when Tom references his dog "He's a very sensitive dog. He gets nightmares and separation anxiety," - I don't know what it was about this line, but it made me chuckle for a minute. Haig has a very good sense of humour in his writing, something I have noticed in his previous books - its dry, typical 'dad' humour, but honestly, that is the best humour there is. Hats off for you, sir!

Another part I wholeheartedly enjoyed was when Tom drank a Bloody Mary with F. Scott Fitzgerald. There is something so out there about it, its simply fantastic.

Just a little picture of one of my favourite exchanges (bottom right, last paragraph).


The book is just phenomenal. I would give it a definite 10/10, and I look forward to the movie adaptation (might be a while before Benedict has time to breathe between all he's doing nowadays 😎😉) I hope you all read it!

Tara for now,

Lola

P.S: The book can be found in any bookstore retailing at £12.99, but if you go on Amazon, I think they have it on special offer for £4.99! 

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