Q: A (Timeless) Love Story by Evan Mandery
Published by Harper Paperbacks, in imprint of HarperCollins
Q (Quentina Elizabeth Deveril) is wonderful, the very best thing that has ever happened to our unnamed protagonist (let us call him I). It is not long at all before he knows he wants to marry her, and it seems that she loves him deeply as well. And really, aside from the fact that her father is a bit of an ass, it seems that their relationship is perfect, that their life together will be a happy one. So it comes as a bit of a surprise when I’s future self, who he gives the designation I-60, comes back to tell him that, for her sake as much as his own, he must not, under any circumstances, marry Q. As I strives to follow the advice of his future selves, his world begins to make less and less sense, and the future becomes more and more difficult.
In many ways, Q: A (Timeless) Love Story is a fascinating exploration of what it means to be happy, and whether true happiness can ever result from actions taken solely to avoid pain, as well as of the unexpected ways in which our actions change our futures.
At the same time, however, I, our unnamed protagonist, is a supremely annoying main character. He is quite fully human with foibles enough that he doesn’t become entirely unsympathetic, but he is the height of ridiculousness, going on for pages about his hatred of coat checks and bathroom attendants and the correlation between toffee and the winter solstice. He’s just odd and obnoxious, as can be seen in his internal monologue when he is in the green room of the Stephen Colbert show – with which he is utterly unfamiliar – to promote his strange and unpopular book:
In the green room, they have put out fruit. The spread consists of cantaloupe and honeydew and watermelon. I do not care for honeydew, but I respect it as a melon. -p. 22
It goes on from there, denigrating the watermelon, but it is so eye roll-inducing that typing any more of it is simply beyond the pale.
These passages are supremely successful in showing the reader exactly what kind of person I is, but they do raise the question of why, if Q is really so wonderful, she ever wanted anything to do with him. She is delightful and personable, it seems unlikely that she would care to commit her life to such an awkward man. Unlike I, though, Q is not well-fleshed at all, the reader can get very little feel for who she truly is, beyond I’s perception of her.
Somehow, though, regardless of I’s annoying traits and the lack of characterization of Q and the other characters, Q: A (Timeless) Love Story is an incredibly engaging book. Not even I’s overuse of the word ‘sanguine’ served as disincentive to continue reading.
Engaging with a fascinating concept and message, but an incredibly obnoxious main character, Q is in the odd position of neither being recommended nor warned against. This is a decision that each reader must make for his or herself.
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