Paradox Bound: A Novel, by Peter Clines

Peter Clines authored the fun and unusual book 14 and it’s too-much-more follow-up  The Fold along with the fascinating Junkie Quatrain. This book brings him into time travel with a young man from the town of Sanders named Eli Teague.

Sanders is a place where nothing happens, but three times in his life, stretched over decades, Eli runs into a mysterious stranger named Harry Pritchard who drives a strangely modified Model A Ford, modified so that it runs on water as fuel. On the third visit Eli joins Harry on a search for the American Dream … the real one. A dream that is protected from harm and corruption by a terrifying group of faceless men. Using the modified Ford Eli and Harry are able to travel backwards and forwards in time chased by the faceless men.

Clines is excellent with plotting realistic worlds around bizarre themes. In his first two books he created an apartment building filled with a strange collection of people who have to fight off Cthulhu, the monster created by H. P. Lovecraft.

In this book Eli is teamed with Harry, a person born in the 19th century who travels in a tricorne hat and long blue coat. The American Dream was preserved by the nation’s founders and has, somehow, disappeared leading several time-traveling adventurers to hunt for it everywhere in America’s history and future. Cline manages to make it all seem both exciting and perfectly natural. The Model A is needed because only good-old American steel will pass through the spots where one can travel through time, all it takes is a good eye for the locations. The water-fueled engines are based on an old patent perfected in the future.

Harry is a dashing heroic figure cut from a steampunk design and Eli becomes Harry’s protege against Harry’s better judgment, all the same he saves them from disaster more than a few times. Further, Eli has a secret even he is unaware of until the story takes a particular turn.

It’s a fun and romantic adventure in which people appear multiple times in the book with new roles in different times. As twisted as he makes the timeline the author keeps it all sensible and easy to follow, always with a humorous undertone to the adventure. It’s a fun book for time travel or steampunk fans with a unique mix of both.