Book Review: How To Stop Time

“It was like being stuck in the same song, with a chorus you had once liked but now made you want to rip your ears off.”


How To Stop Time by Matt Haig

Rating: 4/5

I am old. That is the first thing to tell you. The thing you are least likely to believe. If you saw me you would probably think I was about forty, but you would be very wrong.”

Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret.

He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. From Elizabethan England to Jazz Age Paris, from New York to the South Seas, Tom has seen a lot, and now craves an ordinary life. Always changing his identity to stay alive, Tom has the perfect cover – working as a history teacher at a London comprehensive. Here he can teach the kids about wars and witch hunts as if he’d never witnessed them first-hand. He can try and tame the past that is fast catching up with him.

The only thing Tom mustn’t do is fall in love.


I bought this book as soon as I heard Benedict Cumberbatch was going to play Tom Hazard in the movie. I was intrigued after reading its synopsis — after all, this is a topic not every author can handle well.

The most fascinating thing about books is that, anytime you think a topic has been used far too many times, someone comes up with a different way to present the idea. Which is why I truly enjoyed Matt Haig’s story about a man who ages really really slowly.

The book, divided into five parts, presents Tom’s story in tiny snippets of his entire life. We get to see him as a child and we are able to understand what led him to how he is now. But Tom is neither a bad person nor a good one — he is just someone who is trying to live his abnormally prolonged life. And so for me, his story was much more interesting than his character. When you read the book, you may even find Tom’s encounters with a lot of famous people a bit unrealistic.

But since it’s fiction, and the scenes are written really well, I enjoyed reading those parts. One beautiful addition to this book was the poem written by Camille. It’s not a spoiler but just a piece of art that certainly deserves appreciation.

“I
Like
The Way
That when you
Tilt
Poems
On their side
They
Look like
Miniature
Cities
From
A long way
Away.
Skyscrapers
Made out
Of
Words.”

The reason why I took back one star from the review was because of the ending. It all happened too fast and seemed like a far-stretched coincidence. Another thing I expected from the book was a better explanation of the rare condition anageria. In a way, the story had more potential if the author had not been in a hurry to wrap things up.

How To Stop Time is a book that takes you through different timelines and describes time exactly as it is — uncontrollable. Matt Haig is successful in combining the real and the fictional world to present a story worth reading.

What did you think of the book? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

2 thoughts on “Book Review: How To Stop Time

  1. I agree with everything you said, but to be honest, I found the first half of the book really slow. At the end of the book I just wanted to find out what happens and he kept going back to the past, which I found really frustrating 😀 But I loved the book. I liked how he tried to use the ”language” spoken in certain centuries. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! And yes, so true! The book was definitely slow at some points. I kept reading and waiting for the ending – you know how you expect a story to end on a high note if it builds up steadily? But overall, it was a good read. Hopefully they will fix this problem in the movie. 🙂

      Like

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