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Summary

Summary

An ingenious, dystopian novel of one young woman's resistance against the constraints of an oppressive society, from the inventive imagination of Joyce Carol Oates

"Time travel" -- and its hazards--are made literal in this astonishing new novel in which a recklessly idealistic girl dares to test the perimeters of her tightly controlled (future) world and is punished by being sent back in time to a region of North America -- "Wainscotia, Wisconsin"--that existed eighty years before. Cast adrift in time in this idyllic Midwestern town she is set upon a course of "rehabilitation"--but cannot resist falling in love with a fellow exile and questioning the constrains of the Wainscotia world with results that are both devastating and liberating.

Arresting and visionary, Hazards of Time Travel is both a novel of harrowing discovery and an exquisitely wrought love story that may be Joyce Carol Oates's most unexpected novel so far.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Adriane knows that it's risky to reveal that one thinks for one's self, yet, as high-school valedictorian, she cannot play it safe and is promptly arrested for her inquisitive graduation speech. Deemed an Exiled Individual, which is slightly better than a Deleted Individual, she is sent to Zone 9 and shackled to a new identity and tyrannical rules. Traumatized and bewildered, she struggles to survive as Mary Ellen, a freshman at a Wisconsin college where the library is filled with actual books and phones are enormous and stationary. Yes, Adriane has been exiled to the past, to 1959, 80 years back. Adriane/Mary Ellen is nearly paralyzed with fear, until she becomes convinced that a young, attractive psychology professor is a fellow Exile. Within a tautly suspenseful, wryly incisive tale of a daring truth-seeker and forbidden love, of the dawn of behavioral psychology and the weaponizing of virtual realities, Oates probes the diabolical, shape-shifting nature of authoritarianism and the timeless valor of dissent. While in this clever, brain-twisting, Poe-like fable she looks to the past and the future to dramatize the vulnerability of the psyche, the fragility of freedom, and the catastrophic consequences of repressing intelligence, independence, and creativity, what Oates illuminates is the present. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Oates is always provocative, but this tensile dystopian tale will magnetize readers in a whole new mode.--Donna Seaman Copyright 2018 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Oates's eerie dystopian novel (following Beautiful Days) is set both in New Jersey circa 2039 and in Wisconsin in 1959. In 2039, 17-year-old Adriane Strohl, who narrates, is to be her graduating class's valedictorian. Doing well in school is encouraged, but doing too well can get you noticed by the authorities in the "True Democracy" of the North American States (NAS), where equality is nominally espoused though not truly enacted (people of color and women are given decidedly short shrift). After Adriane's outspoken commencement speech, she's arrested by Homeland Security for treason and ultimately cast out of modern society and teleported to 1959 Wisconsin, where she's to attend Wainscotia State University as Mary Ellen Enright and be reeducated in the hope that she can eventually return to her own time. She's told she will be under constant surveillance and must never reveal her true identity. There, she becomes convinced that her psychology instructor, Dr. Ira Wolfman, is a fellow exile. As she falls for Wolfman, she begins to question everything about the restrictive world she left. Oates weaves a feeling of constant menace and paranoia throughout as Adriane struggles to remember her old life and adjust to her new one. The conclusion is surprising and ambiguous, leaving readers to question their own perception of events, making for a memorable novel. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

In a dystopian United States after 9/11, Adriane Strohl is named valedictorian of her high school class. Before she can deliver her valedictory address, she's arrested for treason, having asked questions rather than staying within approved limits for her speech. Because Adriane is only 17, she's exiled-transported-to a college in Wainscotia, WI-in the 1950s. She's given a new name, and a chip is implanted in her brain to prevent her from disclosing information from the future, to muddle her memory of her previous life, and to keep her under surveillance. Adriane struggles to understand what has happened to her, abide by the rules for exiles, and gain something from her college experience. When she discovers that her psychology professor is also an exile, they form a bond, but then he suggests they escape to California, with devastating results. Multi-award-winning author Oates creates a world in which cherished American freedoms have disappeared and technology has risen to include time travel. And in the end, the will to survive outweighs the search for truth. VERDICT Readers of dystopian fiction will enjoy wrapping their minds around this story. [See Prepub Alert, 5/14/18.]-Joanna Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island Libs., Providence © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


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