If you haven’t seen the books, How to Stay Alive or The Humans by Matt Haig floating around BookTube, the blogosphere or just anywhere, where have you been? I have not read either books, but I know that Matt Haig is an author who is greatly admired within the book community. When I was given the opportunity to read How to Stop Time, I jumped at the chance to read this book, and oh what a wonderful book it was!
Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret.
He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. From Elizabethan England to Jazz Age Paris, from New York to the South Seas, Tom has seen a lot, and now craves an ordinary life. Always changing his identity to stay alive, Tom has the perfect cover – working as a history teacher at a London comprehensive. Here he can teach the kids about wars and witch hunts as if he’d never witnessed them first-hand. He can try and tame the past that is fast catching up with him.
The only thing Tom mustn’t do is fall in love.
I didn’t think that I would like this book at first. The novel starts off by introducing us to the character of Tom, a man who is over four-hundred years old. From the synopsis, it gives off the feel of a romance novel… It is and it isn’t. The main focus – for me – wasn’t romance; it was travelling through time and experiencing different periods of history. It was just absolutely fascinating to be able to read about the jazz age, meeting Shakespeare and Scott Fitzgerald… Who wouldn’t want to read about those times? Of course, the romance was adorable to read and I really felt the heartbreak that Tom would feel over the years.
The characters were also brilliantly written. There were characters that I loved and characters that I loved to hate, that of Hendrich. He was awful! I get that he was just trying to keep the Albas safe, and make sure that they were never found out, but jeez… He was just horrible, and especially at the end! He finally shows his true colours and I just wanted to punch him in the face. He angered me so much! Just let Tom live in peace, let him live how he wants to; I just wanted him to be okay…
“The longer you live, the more you realise that nothing is fixed. Everyone will become a refugee if they live long enough. Everyone would realise their nationality means little in the long run. Everyone would see their worldviews challenged and disproved. Everyone would realise that the thing that defines a human is being a human.”
– Matt Haig, How to Stop Time
I feel like this is a book that will give something different to each reader. For me, this book told me that I should do things for me, and not anyone else. I shouldn’t have to do certain things just to please someone. If they don’t like the way that I live, then that doesn’t matter. This was an important lesson for me to learn through this book because I am always doing things to please other people and not myself.
Matt Haig is an absolutely brilliant author who captures what it’s like to be human perfectly. He conveys the beauty and the horror of living, how nasty humans can be, but also how understanding and beautiful they are; how accepting they are and I feel like this is the perfect novel to read during the difficulty of the present day world. This is a book that explores the beauty of human life and the things that we take for granted: music, art, love, family, and most of all, the world.
I cried when I finished this book. I cried at the beauty of it. And when I finished reading the last word, I turned back to the first page and started to read it again.
Disclaimer: this book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review