cover image An Ocean of Minutes

An Ocean of Minutes

Thea Lim. Touchstone, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-1-5011-9255-5

Lim’s stellar follow-up to 2007’s The Same Woman concerns Polly Nader, who signs an agreement to travel through time from 1981 to 1993 to save her boyfriend. During a road trip in 1981, Buffalo residents Polly and Frank are stuck in Texas as state borders are closed to prevent a virulent strain of flu from spreading. Due to time-travel limitations, doctors are unable to travel back far enough to prevent the pandemic’s onset, but people are being recruited by the company TimeRaiser to help rebuild the future. After Frank is infected by the virus, the two decide to separate; Polly strikes a 32-month deal to work for TimeRaiser and plans to reunite with Frank upon arrival. Bonded workers spend their time doing jobs like riding exercise bikes for hours in order to power resorts and are disparagingly referred to as journeymen in a future where the country has been divided into the United States and America. Polly is in the latter (composed mainly of resorts for the wealthy), but Buffalo—where Polly assumes Frank is—is in the former. Polly’s lowly status and lack of funds keep her from knowing if Frank is even alive, and she isn’t allowed to leave America for the United States until her contract is up. She endures betrayals and despair as she tries to break free of her servitude and make the potentially hopeless journey to find Frank. Lim’s enthralling novel succeeds on every level: as a love story, an imaginative thriller, and a dystopian narrative. Agent: Alexandra Machinist, ICM Partners. (July)