Aaron Hodges is fresh from an argument with his wife, Cynthia, when he leaves for a business trip early one morning. On his way to the airport, he tells himself they will reconcile once his plane lands. It had been a small, trivial misunderstanding and the two of them would eventually get over it.
But as he drives along the California highway in his Volkswagen Beetle, the scenery shifts from streetlights and overpasses to a rural desert landscape in the blink of an eye. Did Aaron get so lost in his thoughts that he drove for hours — in the wrong direction? How long has it been exactly since he left his house?
When he pulls into a truck stop to get some answers, he realizes that it has not been a few hours that’s passed. It’s been nearly 20 years.
Gary Thomas Edwards, author of The Book of Bob, gradually introduces us to the passage of time by showcasing slight variations of what Aaron finds familiar and what has become the norm in the current year of 2039. Many of these variations are presented through Dancer, a female employee at the truck stop whom Aaron quickly befriends.
Dancer can tell something is different about Aaron — he does not have a Personal Identification Chip, tries to pay for his order with a credit card, carries a cellphone and overall seems lost. But it’s not until he mentions that he resides in Lake Tahoe with his wife that she realizes just how different he is. She explains to him that no one lives in Lake Tahoe. It had been bombed in the war that began in 2024 and was now nothing more than a radioactive wasteland.
THE MISSION TO SAVE CYNTHIA FROM THE FUTURE PAST
With only so many answers to give Aaron, Dancer introduces him to one of her closest friends, Bob, the resident genius of Flagstaff, Arizona — which, as it turns out, is Aaron’s perplexing new location. To Aaron, there is something familiar about Bob. He’s almost certain that he recognizes the man’s face, shaggy gray beard, and Hawaiian-style t-shirts. The more Aaron talks to Bob, the more he realizes that he did not drive across state lines in a daze over the course of years, but he had been physically transported through time.
And if he was able to successfully travel through time, the same can be said for his wife, Cynthia. The trio quickly takes on the task of saving Cynthia from her likely death in the war and bringing her into their present. But while Aaron’s accidental jump forward had been relatively seamless, the same cannot be said about bringing Cynthia forward.
Bob explains his theory that human life and time is constructed out of a code, and that individuals can move through time as long as the code is perfectly copied. To ensure Cynthia is safely transitioned into the future, Bob practices copying codes on inanimate objects, such as a table. However, the table proves difficult to transport through time — changing color, getting stuck in a wall, and landing in the middle of the highway — and Aaron grows concerned about Cynthia surviving not only the war, but her trip into the future.
RICH DIALOGUE AND RELATABLE CHARACTERS
Gary Thomas Edwards creates a compelling plot that shows readers just how different the world can become in a mere 20 years — and yet now many aspects of life can stay the same. While there may be an array of new technologies and theories about time travel, there are still the very humanistic elements of friendship, love and the desire to be reunited with someone we miss.
Through rich dialog and full character profiles, Edwards fills his novel with individuals that the reader grows to care about. The Southern-esque charm of Dancer complements the loyalty and determination of Aaron, both of which play perfectly off the whimsy of Bob.
As the trio moves forward on their mission to rescue Cynthia, they forge a realistic friendship that explores both the joys of having someone by your side and the concerns that often accompany placing a lot of trust in someone else. The Book of Bob is a fitting read for anyone who is a fan of futuristic novels, the idea of time travel, or who is simply looking to escape the present for the time being.