infinite miles coverRating: 4.25 stars
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Length: Novel

 

Three years ago, Harper Starling’s best friend, Peggy, went missing. The two women grew up together, inseparable and spending long hours watching and recounting their favorite time travel show, Infinite Odyssey. As they got older, the women moved together to New York City for college. But then, Peggy started pulling away from Harper, suddenly always seeming too busy for her friend, and their last conversation ended in a fight. And then Peggy disappeared, and Harper is mired in her grief. She dropped out of college and took a job working at the Starlight Diner, one of their favorite hangouts, and her life is feeling stuck.

Then, one day, Peggy shows up at the diner. Or a version of Peggy at least. This Peggy is clearly not herself, having been taken over by… something. And she wants Harper to take her to the Argo, the time-traveling space ship from their favorite show. Harper has no idea how Peggy expects her to manage that until suddenly there it is, the Argo and it’s captain the Argonaut, aka Miles. Miles seems to understand what is happening with Peggy and it is clear Peggy wants them both dead. Harper just barely manages to escape with Miles in the Argo (which is posing as a classic car). When Miles brings her back in time to the Starlight Diner in 1971, Harper wants answers as to what is going on. What happened to Peggy? How are Miles and the Argo real? How is time travel real? And how can they help Peggy? But before she can learn answers to any of that, Miles takes off, leaving her abandoned in 1971.

Harper is thrown, as she has nothing but a handful of cash and a general knowledge of life in the 1970s. But she is determined to help Peggy, and that means taking some action. She gets a job at the diner and begins to learn more about what happened to Peggy and how that connects to Miles and the TV show. Fortunately, someone has left some clues for Harper to find, which helps her move forward in her quest. Harper learns that Miles had taken modern-day Peggy on time-travel adventures, but they were attacked and Peggy has now been infected by an alien enemy called the Incarnate that is killing her. Even worse, the Incarnate are looking to take over everything they see, putting the fate of the world on the line. Figuring out how to stop them is near impossible, but Harper is determined to save her best friend, even if it means risking her own life to do it.

The Infinite Miles is a really entertaining time-travel adventure. I enjoy this genre and found this story a lot of fun and engagingly twisty. The story focuses primarily on two timelines, taking place mostly on Earth in present day and then back in 1971/1972, though we do travel to other times and places as well. The plot makes good use of sort of a “time paradox” where the characters are often acting in the past to bring into reality things they know happen in the future. We also have multiple versions of the characters roaming around at times and so it is a fun use of the time-travel genre. Personally, I learn more into the “fiction” than the “science” side of science fiction, so I didn’t need it all to get too technical or have a lot of deep scientific explanations for how the time travel all works. We do get some details as the story goes on, but mostly it is waved away as futuristic technology from another world and left at that. There are a few times where things got a teeny bit complicated to follow, but mostly I just sat back and enjoyed the adventure. Things get exciting, intense, scary, and disturbing at various points, and the ending felt a little bit unclear, but it all comes together nicely and I found the story really compelling.

For all that Peggy incites the action here, she is really not the main character of the book. This is mostly Harper’s story, and to a lesser extent Miles’ journey as well. Harper is a strong, confident, and super smart young woman who finds herself dropped into the middle of chaos. She could have given up when she lands stranded in 1971, could have just tried to piece together a new life as best as she could. But Harper is a fighter and she is determined to solve this puzzle and save her friend and she doesn’t give up. I just loved her as a character, loved that she just does what needs doing and keeps working, keeps fighting, even when it feels futile. Harper is juxtaposed nicely with Miles, who is mostly an avoider. When he has a problem he doesn’t want to deal with, he just turns the other way. It takes Harper to get Miles to finally step up, and the two ultimately are working in the same direction, but she is by far the leader and the one who makes things happen. That said, we do spend a chunk of the story focused on Miles and learn how he ended up traveling through space and time and, I will say, I was really surprised at all that is revealed and it did give me a new appreciation for Miles. This is a man who has lost so much and, while he isn’t up to the challenge in the same way Harper is, he also has his own grief to work through. I’ll note I also enjoyed the parallels with two characters we meet in the 1971 timeline, one another man who is sort of floating along until Harper motivates him into action, and the other a strong woman in a male-dominated profession who must work twice as hard as the men around her for half the recognition.

I would classify this story as science fiction with various LGBTQ characters, but this is definitely not a romance. That said, we do learn about some past romantic same sex relationships that are bittersweet, but also very lovely. It is also clear that Harper has feelings for Peggy, but the women never really ever talked about it. So I’d say some romantic elements and storylines, but don’t go into this looking for a romantic relationship at its focus. If anything, this is more about the connection of friendship and how that motivates Harper. As a note, not everyone makes it out of the story unscathed, so there is some loss here as well, though things do end on an uplifting note.

Overall, I found this one really enjoyable. This is time travel on the level I like, with things not too technical, but also twisty and clever. I loved the way this story reads as a puzzle, as Harper tries to piece together what is happening and how everything all came together. There are lots of fun “aha” moments that I really liked. If you are a light sci fi fan or enjoy time travel stories, definitely give this one a try.

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