The Unusual Second Life of Thomas Weaver by Shawn Inmon is a gripping story of the ultimate “What if?”
The time travel genre is populated by a number of standard premises, meaning that multiple authors have discussed many of the same philosophical and ethical issues over the years. In The Unusual Second Life of Thomas Weaver the classic time-traveling tropes are present, but they seamlessly weave between highly developed characters and an emotionally gripping story line that makes readers forget that they’re reading fiction.
Thomas Weaver has not had a particularly good life, and after 55 years on the planet, he decides to take control and check out early. Haunted by a long string of mistakes, traumatic memories of the past, and the sad specter of his present existence, he pops a handful of sleeping . However, he wakes up four decades earlier, in a much younger body, and the real story begins. Reeling from his own resurrection, and the presence of the brother he’d lived an entire lifetime without, Thomas Weaver must figure out how he leaped back to the mid-70s, and more importantly…why?
This answer isn’t immediately apparent to readers either, because there are a number of subplots and red herrings to keep you guessing. The serial killer story line is the first real hint of an answer to the underlying question of the book – what would you do it you could travel back in time? Would you turn your own life around? Would you use your knowledge of the future to protect millions of people or make millions of dollars?
Thomas Weaver may be back in his 15-year-old body, but his philosophical maturity is that of a man who has lived an embittered forty years after his life fell apart. He is living in a dream, unsure of whether he is experiencing reality or an “existential mind game,” but he must still maintain the behavior and life of an awkward teenager. Tommy begins to suspect that this second opportunity isn’t just random chance, but rather his one shot at designing a better life. Unfortunately, there are many things in his past to change, but he is determined not to mess things up again.
Readers are given frequent glimpses of Tommy’s internal monologue, despite the third-person narration style, making it much easier to relate to him as a character and understand his struggle with this second chance at life. As the narrative unfolds, Tommy, Zack, their mother and Michael Hollister are outlined in greater detail, and the book becomes less about time travel, and more about hindsight. The mixture of Tommy’s domestic teenage life and philosophical musings keeps the book dynamic and interesting, fluctuating between dark moments and amusing time-travel hiccups, such as quoting movies that wouldn’t come out for decades.
The short chapters are easy to move through, and the writing is strong, with believable voices for the characters. Depicting high-school life isn’t always easy for a middle-aged author, but Shawn Inmon pulls it off with impressive ease. A book like this one is widely appealing, especially for those looking for a bit of a sci-fi adventure, a good thriller, or readers who prefer philosophical quandaries hidden in their literature. The author builds the narrative slowly and patiently, and as Thomas Weaver’s strange second time around progresses, the tension is almost palpable.
The Unusual Second Life of Thomas Weaver is a standout story that begs important questions – and provides the author’s personal answers – alongside a uniquely fascinating plot that does not disappoint.
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