Paris Adrift is a time travel story that is full of modern characters, modern issues & brilliant journeys into the past… the book also takes us into a very possible not-so-distant future that really sets the mind a’wondering & I for one adored it. I’ve never read a book with time travel before, apart from the Doctor Who novels, as I was afraid they just wouldn’t match up; but Paris Adrift smacked me right in the part of my brain that makes me love books & I wish I could read it for the first time all over again.
This book contains a lot of cigarette smoking, panic attacks, discussions of abortion/miscarriages, suicidal thoughts, domestic violence & a bad mother/daughter relationship. There are also mentions of the terrorist attacks in France from 2015 onward.
Before I start my review of Paris Adrift I would like to say that I owe a lot to this book because it dragged me out of the depressive hole I was falling into after I had my facet joint injections a few weeks ago (read about that here); anaesthetic always messes me up so I was in a bad place when this book arrived the day after my procedure – but the ending of the book was so incredible & intense that I felt numb when I finished it… then, it was like someone had hit my reset button & I was pretty much back to normal 10 minutes after finishing the read, so thank you E. J. Swift; you’re a star.
“I agree with her now: there is nothing finite about a graveyard. It’s a halfway house; a battlefield between the living & the dead. First to go is the flesh, skin & muscle & blood, but bone will eventually begin to compress & transmogrify. This is how stone begins. What we were feeds into the things that will become, & after the last memory of us has faded from the world, it is stone that remains to tell what stories it can”
– Paris Adrift, pg. 58-59
Paris Adrift is a book about a girl called Hallie who runs away to Paris in an attempt to find herself; little does she know though, that she’s the key to saving a future she’s yet to even imagine. Set mainly in Parisian bars near the Moulin Rouge, Hallie finds herself a new family made up of other misfits that have gone to Paris in the hope of finding more; filled with modern young adults & lots of alcohol, Paris Adrift is the story that all young would-be time travellers are looking for.
Can you tell that I loved this book? Well, I did. A lot. It wasn’t perfect though, & I want to talk about the things that I found frustrating before I continue to rant about how much I loved it. The main issue I had with the book was the pacing & in a book about time travel, pacing is really important. Unfortunately, at times somethings went far too quickly, & at other times I felt certain scenes could have really benefited from a few extra pages. The inconsistent pacing really was a shame because it almost ruined the plot in a few places, & I can see why some people may not enjoy the book because of it. The book was also full of a lot of untranslated French – which is fine if you speak French or are reading on a kindle with a translate button, but as someone who got a U in French at school & who was reading a print copy, I found the random French dotted throughout to be a little irritating… more than once I had to get my phone out mid-chapter to translate a word or phrase & that isn’t something that I want from a book. That’s all I can criticise though; I loved everything else (& I can appreciate that the French helped to make the characters more realistic).
The main setting of the book is one that I’ve never experienced before, & it’s one that I absolutely loved – YA (especially fantasy & science-fiction) doesn’t actually seem to have that many characters that drink & party like the young adults in Paris Adrift; which is strange because I actually found this part of the book to be incredibly realistic. The attitudes toward alcohol & the behaviour induced by it are things that I have witnessed multiple times whilst on night’s out, & Swift recreated these types of scenes so well that I could almost hear the music & feel my shoes sticking to the cheap flooring of a club. Swift also created this aspect of Paris Adrift so well that at times it was easy to forget that this book was actually science-fiction, & not a contemporary. I really want to read more books with settings like those of Millie’s, the bar that Hallie worked in.
The club-scene was not the only setting of Paris Adrift though – as I’ve said, Hallie travels through time, so I got to experience different eras of Paris, & not just the modern day. As someone who is a big history fan, going back in time is my favourite part of time travel & I loved that Hallie mainly got to visit times of the past, rather than future Paris. I really loved the characters that popped up during Hallie’s travels & I loved that she spent so much time in some eras that she developed real friendships; it was also really emotional when Hallie went back to visit a friend years after she left her behind, & it made me think of that heartbreaking scene in Doctor Who where 10 says goodbye to Rose on Bad Wolf Bay *sobs*. Additionally, I really loved that Swift took us back in time to World War 2 & that Hallie was able to make a difference to the life of someone from that time; the adventure Hallie experiences during that trip is different from what most would expect of a travel back into one of the biggest wars our world has ever seen, but I loved it & adored the simplicity of it.
The characters were also fantastic; the friends that Hallie made in modern day France were so diverse & real, & I seriously loved them all. I loved how accepting they all were & that each character was unique & had their own background story. Swift took time to create characters that were all separate & beneficial to the plot in their own way, & it was nice to not have any hole-fillers or box-tickers. They were all quite smart as well, & well aware of the world around them – I appreciated this because the characters all drink a lot of alcohol & it was nice to see Swift show that just because a teenager or young adult parties, it doesn’t mean they aren’t smart & don’t know about things that are currently very important. The characters also often engaged in conversations about very modern topics, including the terrorist attacks that have occurred in France in the past few years, & I applaud Swift for putting the effort in to making her characters come across as smart & aware.
The characters from Hallie’s travels were also really great, & again all had their own character profiles. I also found it quite interesting that we didn’t see much of the people who were actually the reason for the plot; i.e. the characters from the first chapter. It was really clever of Swift to come up with a plot that meant that the people driving it weren’t actually involved in it at all. We’re also left on quite a cliff-hanger in respect to how those characters benefit from Hallie’s actions & I found that quite endearing. Something else that was great about the time-travel was the fact that Hallie’s addiction to it was palpable & that as Hallie became more obsessed with travelling, the book became more & more focused on what went on whilst she was away. The change in Hallie affected how the story was being told & that had a great effect on me as I read it.
As for the plot; I loved that too, & found it to be quite unique. I never really knew what was going to happen next, despite knowing more about what was happening to Hallie than she knew herself, & this was a great way to keep me interested. I also really loved how, toward the end, the plot was speeding into one final direction, for it all to be turned on it’s head due to an admission by a character called Leon. It really is amazing how much things can be changed by one small detail… which actually, is kind of the whole message of the story. Throughout the entire read there was a smooth underlay of politics that works to encourage the reader to think more & to be a better person, even if (especially if, actually) it’s just by making very small changes; during the entire story we’re constantly shown how much one small detail can matter, for example the design of a building, & how something so insignificant to the greater world can actually have grave consequences.
Eugh, I’m pretty sure this review is a pile of crap; but I just really loved the book & really hope that my review reflects how wonderful it is in some way. Swift has created a time travel story that features great pieces of history & interesting characters, whilst also tying in an underlying message of how important our actions can be in regards to the greater picture. I also think that this book shouts out a message of how incredible young people can be, & right now I think that’s a very relevant message. This book is definitely going down as one of my favourites, & I really hope that you’ll pick up a copy for yourself one day. Thank you again to E. J. Swift for pulling me out of a depressive episode with your wonderful writing & fantastic world-building; I can’t wait to read more of your work.
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