An Ocean of Minutes
An Ocean of Minutes was sold to me as The Time Traveller’s Wife meets Station Eleven. I loved the concept of The Time Traveller’s Wife; Henry is a man with the ability to time travel and Clare is his wife, who he must continually find his way back to. And I adored everything about Station Eleven; it was eerie, beautiful, and incredibly uplifting considering its dark, dystopian subject matter. Having read these two books, I knew that I had to read this book. I was not disappointed.
Polly and Frank are a young couple in love until a flu virus infects half the world’s population, including Frank. The only way Polly can save him is to sign up to be sent twelve years into the future as part of an initiative that is going to rebuild the devastation being caused by the flu now. She signs up. Then she and Frank choose a meeting spot and swear to meet each other on that spot in twelve years’ time. Frank will be older, but Polly will be the same age. They can still be together. They can still have children. They can still have a life. But then Polly gets sent an extra five years into the future, and seventeen years is a long time to wait.
This is Thea Lim’s (The Same Woman) second book and, man, does she nail it. The writing is simple, eloquent, and incredibly moving. Polly’s departure from Frank is heart-breaking, and when she discovers that she is seventeen years into the future, I was sharing the heart palpitations that she was having. The thoughts that rushed through her head were the same thoughts rushing through my own: Did Frank survive? Did he wait for Polly? Will love win out in the end? Polly’s dedication and belief in Frank is so strong and so wonderful. It was the complete and utter devotion that she has for him that kept me turning pages well past my bedtime.
The setting of the book is the other drawcard. The future that Lim paints is bleak and terrifying, and her writing is so evocative that I felt I was right there next to Polly. The flu caused such devastation that the future was harder to rebuild than first expected. On Polly’s first day, she finds herself in a shipping container on an exercycle. Each spin of the stationary wheel is another round of electricity that will fuel the bunker-like houses of the neighborhood. Like I said, bleak. But it is only the book’s setting that’s bleak. Even though the world Polly finds herself in is desolate, Lim's eloquence brings hope into every element of the story in a way that feels effortless. An Ocean of Minutes is really a story about love, and I couldn't recommend it more.