Paris Adrift by EJ Swift
Book of the Year 2018 (see all)
Paris Adrift starts with a story about anomalies that can be found in this world. These anomalies are waiting for their incumbents, human hosts, who will be able to travel through time via their anomalies. There is a very slim chance of incumbents finding their anomalies, but this story is much larger than one person stumbling into their anomaly, this is a story about saving the world.
The book itself is split into nine parts. The first part starts in 2318, where the last remaining time travellers agree to intervene in history, they do this to make sure that the world they currently inhabit does not come into being. The time travellers send two of their own back to 2017. In part two we are introduced to Hallie, the main protagonist. Paris Adrift from part two is mostly told from Hallie’s point of view but we do get some chapters from other character's perspectives which makes all the difference to the overall story.
Hallie arrives in Paris needing a job, which she finds at Millie’s, a bar in Clichy next to the Moulin Rouge. Once Hallie starts working there she is soon introduced to her new colleagues who will eventually become her friends. These people have great back-stories which you find out throughout the book although some are more in-depth than others. The standout characters being Gabriela, Angel and Leon who take her into their group and look out for her. The crew from Millie’s know how to party and there is a lot of drinking and soul-searching. Little does Hallie know that working in Millie’s will bring her into contact with her anomaly and make her life even more complicated.
Hallie is a realist, so when she sees herself in Millie’s during her shift, she would rather think that she is hallucinating, rather than believe that she can time travel. After meeting The Chronometrist, one of the time travellers from 2318, who tells her to travel to 1875, Hallie has to change her mind from incredulity at the situation she finds herself in, to believing that this is her new reality. The Chronometrist is a cold and scary figure, able to possess the body of people in the time she is in. In 1875, Hallie is tasked with changing the design of the Sacré-Coeur. Hallie is not able to travel back to her present until the anomaly wakes, so Hallie is left to fend for herself in a Paris that she has only read about.
When Hallie does arrive back in 2017, things have subtly changed, yet no one around her knows that these changes have occurred, except for the time travellers. Hallie is then tasked with a number of missions from the Chronometrist, which Hallie accepts even as she is deciding whether she should trust The Chronometrist or not. Hallie wants to help the people in the times she visits in whatever way she can, in the hopes that she is doing the right thing. Yet Hallie’s actions also cause the present to change with a new political movement spreading across Paris with people starting to look out for each other.
Hallie also has to decide if she should tell any of her new friends about her time travelling. Hallie doesn’t know the rules, or if her friends can help her. The interpersonal relationships in this story are really affecting and help to make the characters feel more real. Hallie has always felt alone and now she finally feels like she belongs, yet the anomaly also restricts her movements and choices in ways she can not conceive.
Paris Adrift is a great time travel story, inventive and at times overwhelming. Hallie is a compelling character to read, as she is not all-knowing and manages to keep her sense of disbelief for as long as possible. Hallie through the book comes to find an inner strength that she didn’t know existed as she faces challenges without a lot of resources. I can’t really express how much I enjoyed this story and look forward to reading more from E. J. Swift soon.
This Paris Adrift book review was written by Michelle Herbert
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