Denny Younger is an Eight—one of the lowest social classes in a strictly stratified British society in a timeline where the American Revolution never happened and England rules most of the planet. After taking his placement exams and expecting to be placed in a job with his father, Denny is surprised when he is asked to take another exam. After the exam, Denny is offered two jobs: become a librarian, or something more. The lure of the unknown draws him into the world of Rewinders. These are people working for the Upjohn Institute whose sole job is to go back through time as geneologists to observe and retrace bloodlines and family histories. When Denny goes back, he learns that a matter of 12 seconds is enough to alter life as he knows it. After spending time in the “real” (the reader’s) timeline, falling in love, and learning more about a society without boundaries Denny must decide which reality will survive.
This book is almost entirely set in 2015—either the alternate timeline (Denny’s) or the reader’s reality—with a few jaunts into the past that are more side notes to the overall plot. For readers of historical fiction, the George Washington aspect of the plot will be intriguing, but maybe not enough to carry interest throughout. This is first and foremost a Sci-Fi/time travel book. Denny’s character was difficult to engage with. He is praised by others as being smart and quick, but it takes him four days to realize he’s altered reality. And for a time travel book, there are many paradoxes that are left unexplained: How are other Rewinders not erased when the timeline changes? Or Denny for that matter? If you are willing to look past the gaps in the “science,” Brett Battle’s writing is solid and he keeps a fast pace. It is a quick read and presents an interesting question on society and the past.