America is in the grip of a deadly flu pandemic. When Frank catches the virus, his girlfriend Polly will do whatever it takes to save him, even if it means risking everything. She agrees to a radical plan—time travel has been invented in the future to thwart the virus. If she signs up for a one-way-trip into the future to work as a bonded labourer, the company will pay for the life-saving treatment Frank needs. Polly promises to meet Frank again in Galveston, Texas, where she will arrive in twelve years.
But when Polly is re-routed an extra five years into the future, Frank is nowhere to be found. Alone in a changed and divided America, with no status and no money, Polly must navigate a new life and find a way to locate Frank, to discover if he is alive, and if their love has endured.
An Ocean of Minutes is a wonderfully crafted story about love, independence, and reality. Lim captures the essence of young idealized love and weaves it into a story about heartbreak, loss, and the lengths people are willing to go for the ones they love.
An Ocean of Minutes focuses on Polly as she is thrust into a new life to save the man she loves, Frank. In order to escape the flu pandemic and save Frank, Polly agrees to travel twelve years into the future and work for TimeRaiser. Once she arrives, Polly is dismayed to find out she’s traveled much further into the future than she anticipated. Polly then begins her journey of becoming independent, discovering a new world, and desperately seeking out Frank.
In the opening chapters of the novel, a real sense of confusion and helplessness is communicated through the writing. Polly is lost in the whirlwind of a new society where she feels she doesn’t belong and doesn’t understand. Her motivation stems from her love of Frank and their eventual reunion. As Polly navigates the new and unrecognizable world, the reader experiences her emotions in real time. Since the emotions are so tightly weaved within the text, the exposition and info dump does not feel clunky or obvious.
The chapters alternate between Polly’s present and past. Through her chapters in the past, the reader discovers Polly and Frank’s relationship. These chapters are an absolute joy to read. They’re lovely and wonderful; yet communicate a real relationship with ups and downs. On the other hand, the present chapters showcase the harsh reality of the future. The juxtaposition of the idealized past and the harsh reality is sometimes hard to reconcile, but is important to the overall narrative.
The balance between the romantic and science fiction elements is flawless. The alternating chapters take on the responsibility of shouldering the weight of developing each of the elements. I would have liked to see more development in world building and the pandemic itself, however An Ocean of Minutes, at its core, is a novel about resilience and love rather than the world itself. For this reason, I rated the novel five stars instead of four since Lim explores her characters perfectly.
Overall, An Ocean of Minutes is an expertly told story about the lengths people will go for the ones they love most and the impact of those choices.
***I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.