Hazards of Time Travel by Joyce Carol Oates

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Let’s get it out of the way: The Hazards of Time Travel by Joyce Carol Oates is a novel featuring a brave young girl in a dystopian future.

I’m as surprised as you are.

No, I don’t know why she didn’t market this YA. (Probably as a buffer against ready Hunger Game comparisons).

It’s amazing.

woman reading Joyce Carol Oates and petting cat
That gray blur in the left-hand corner is my little cat Duke IS SHE TIME TRAVELING ON CAMERA


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Hazards of Time Travel by Joyce Carol Oates

But Adriane Strohl will not stay in the future for long (suddenly comparisons are moot).

Arrested for some kind of thought crime, our perpetually palpitating protagonist is sentenced to exile in “Zone 9.”

Zone 9 proves to be Wainscotia State University in Wainscotia Falls, Wisconsin. In 1959. (The year is said to be eighty years past. You do the math to know when The Hazards of Time Travel is supposed to take place.)

But, Adriane is lucky! Only four years. Or, as the man she falls in treasonous love with snarks:

Four years! That’s nothing. Just enough to get a useless college education, and be teletransported back.

Oh No She Didn’t

That’s what I said. Treasonous love.

Adriane is forbidden to form close relationships, speak of her past (future?) life, or procreate (you know those are JCO’s italics). She was to think of her sins, work hard to come home a better citizen, and stay within a ten-mile radius of the university.

And what does she go and do?

Stranded in a strange place and time(?!), ripped from her family, with none of her accustomed technology, having recently undergone torture, Adriane falls in love with the eccentric teaching assistant of her Psychology 101 class.

Could Ira Wolfman be an EI (Exiled Individual) too?

woman looking up into camera sitting on chair
And the verdict is

My Impressions

The back of my eyes kept getting in the way when I first read Hazards of Time Travel’s book jacket. Cuz I was rolling them so hard.

As is often the case, my first assumption was incorrect. This is a great book.

Some strange combination of her searing hatred for the present administration and her ability to vividly recall her undergraduate years make for electric prose.

Somehow, this book is more present than A Book of American Martyrs and The Sacrifice (certainly more than The Accursed-but what isn’t, amirite?); Adriane Strohl so sympathetic and breathing on each page I can’t help but imagine she is a younger version of our author.

woman holding book open and smiling into camera

What are your favorite dystopian-themed books? Let me know in the comments below! Share this article so people know you read.

Check out my last book review of Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage.

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Megan writes everything on Ish Mom. She possesses a bachelor's degree in psychology, a flair for theatrics, and a whole lotta nerve. She lives in the Midwest (and loves it) with her wonderful husband and three young boys.
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One Response

  1. I haven’t read anything by Joyce Carol Oates but I always love dystopian. It’s one of my favorite genres, after romance of course! Great review 🙂 So glad your first impressions were wrong and you ended up enjoying the book.

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