A Tale of Time City is a standalone young adult novel by Diana Wynne Jones. This is, if you were unaware, the woman who wrote Howl’s Moving Castle, the book Miyazaki’s movie was based off of. Howl’s Moving Castle and its sequels were the first Diana Wynne Jones books I read, but I never really sought out others until years later. It’s only in the past couple years that I’ve really been looking for her work…and it’s been a mixed bag, to be honest. The last new (to me) books I read from her were the Chrestomanci ones. I was less than thrilled, given that most of the children were disagreeable little turds and I found the books less than unified as a set.
I think Jones specialized in writing children as disagreeable turds, because that was the first problem I had with A Tale of Time City. Vivian Smith grew on me as the book progressed, but I never did like Jonathan or especially Sam. I do get that most eight year olds are not ideal examples of humanity, but that doesn’t mean I have to like reading about them as main characters.
I think I’ve mentioned recently that time travel can be confusing and it’s an easy plot device to screw up. After I read the Acorna and Acorna’s Children books, I swore off any new (to me) McCaffrey series involving time travel. This is also why I pulled Last Chance For Magic off my shelf – it really doesn’t deal with the time travel aspect and how it affects the timeline.
Jones does show evidence of small changes can quickly add up and accelerate when you start screwing with time itself. She also introduces some concepts that I had not seen before. And let me remind you that this is a book targeting readers 10-13 years old, based on the protagonist’s age. The fact that she can do something so new and make it accessible to young readers is remarkable.
I think, in the end, that I might not have had such a negative initial reaction to this book if I’d read it when I was in middle school. I am glad that A Tale of Time City was able to overcome my initial distaste, as it reaffirms that I was right to buy this book at the convention, and encourages me to read the other two Diana Wynne Jones books I bought with it.
I’m not sure how frequently I’ll be finishing books now that I’ve arrived at my destination and will no longer have full days of driving during which to read. I did bring enough books that I could technically read one every day of my vacation, but I wouldn’t expect that to actually happen. These are simply the books I was intrigued enough to possibly read in the near future.