2 out of 4 stars
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G.M.T. Schuilling’s The Watchmaker’s Doctor begins with the lead character, Dr. Anaya Jones, visiting with her patient, Greg, at St. Jude’s Retirement home. It’s during this visit that Greg gives her “the last and most prized creation in his career as a watchmaker,” an exquisite watch. Shortly thereafter, she is hit by a van and almost killed.
Later, she awakens in Greg’s arms. He informs her that she had an accident and the watch turned back time. He then gives her two options: she can rewind the watch to any time in her past, so she can go back to that time and relive her life from that point forward, or she can die. She also learns that when she reaches this current point in her life again, she will have to die, regardless of what changes she makes in her life.
After some thought, she decides to go back eighteen years to when she was seventeen and dropped out of school. Greg sets the watch and within seconds Anaya Jones wakes up eighteen years in the past, as a seventeen-year old senior in high school. This time she vows she’s going to get it right and live her life without regrets.
Soon she also realizes that tinkering with the past is not so simple because changing one thing will change other things in ways that are not so good. She begins to dread the fact that her time is so short; especially now, since she has rectified some of her past mistakes and has a chance at a decent life. The clock is literally winding down just as she’s beginning to have a reason to live.
This book is a mixed bag. The premise is awesome. Sometimes, however, a great premise is a book’s undoing. A great premise creates great expectations. Sometimes the author fulfills those expectations; sometimes they will fall short. In my opinion, the author falls a bit short here. It’s not that there’s anything glaringly wrong; it’s just that this book didn’t grab me the way some books do. Although the characters are likeable, they are a bit under-developed. I would like to see them fleshed out a little bit more.
Although the book was short, the action paced a little too slowly, and I never felt a strong sense of suspense. The author simply did not create the kind of intense situations that force you to quickly turn the pages with a heightened anxiety to find out what happens next.
Also, I was disappointed at the end because the story ended in the middle. I assume this short book is the first of a series of books. At the end, we are told to “Follow Anaya as her time travels continue in The Watch Seeker.” Unfortunately, I was not able to find this book on the author’s website.
Like I said, the book is a mixed bag. It did have its strong points. The writing is clear and crisp; the descriptions are vivid and compelling with a sharp and realistic dialogue. The book is well edited; I did not find any mistakes. I also like the format the author employed, breaking the book into short chapters, with each chapter representing a step forward in time as Anaya relives her life.
This book introduced me to a new genre -- new adult fiction. According to Wikipedia, it is “a developing genre of fiction with protagonists in the 18-30 age bracket . . .” and it is “similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult--a sort of an ’older YA’ or ’new adult’”. I think these new adults will enjoy this book. It’s a short book with short chapters, written in a breezy style that’s easy to read. Older readers, however, who may want something with a bit more heft, might be disappointed. The lead character battles bipolar disorder, and those who share her affliction may find this book interesting, as might those with an interest in time travel.
I give this book 2 out of 4 stars. If I could, I would give it two and a half. It’s a good, fun read that for me did not quite live up to the promise of its premise.
The Watchmaker’s Doctor
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