In May 2000, Joel Smith is a cocky, adventurous young man who sees the world as his playground. But when the college senior, days from graduation, enters an abandoned Montana mine, he discovers the price of reckless curiosity. He emerges in May 1941 with a cell phone he can’t use, money he can’t spend, and little but his wits to guide his way. Stuck in the age of swing dancing and a peacetime draft, Joel begins a new life as the nation drifts toward war. With the help of his 21-year-old trailblazing grandmother and her friends, he finds his place in a world he knew only from movies and books. But when an opportunity comes to return to the present, Joel must decide whether to leave his new love in the past or choose a course that will alter their lives forever. THE MINE follows a humbled man through a critical time in history as he adjusts to new surroundings and wrestles with the knowledge of things to come.
I received a copy in exchange for an honest review
Although I am not a big fan of time travel stories, something about the blurb of The Mine grabbed my attention and I knew I would read it. The beginning of the story felt a bit slow to me, this wasn’t because of the pace, actually the pace was pretty fast and before we got to know Joel very well he was at the Mine and off to the past. It was more that the writing style was very different from what I am used to and it took me some time to get used to it.
The Mine did manage to surprise me on a few occasions and the book was certainly different than what I had expected. The Mine is more a historical romance, told in a dry almost emotionless way, than a true time travel story. The time Travel aspect is there, but it’s really in the background. The book was a bit dull at times, but I think that’s mostly because I would’ve loved a bit more emotions and I had difficulties connecting to the story and characters because of it. Towards the end it greatly improved and I read the last 100 pages in one sitting. The ending was done well and wrapped up the story nicely, although I kept some questions about Grace and how she managed the past few months. There was some scenes that even made me feel a bit sad, which I though was interesting as most of the book felt me feeling very little.
There are some sentences or chapters from another pov than Joel, but I always seemed a bit jarring and not natural. Also some chapter beginnings were a bit out of the blue and it took me a while to get my bearing sand figure out were we where. Then sometimes the date was mentioned at the start of a chapter, but not always and while it wasn’t always necessary I still think I would’ve liked the consistency. Now every time there was a date I was trying to figure out what the last date was and what the relevance was of mentioning it here.
The main character Joel is from the year 2000, we don’t learn much about his life in the present before he is whisked of to the past and while this worked for getting the main plot started soon I did feel like I missed some background about Joel. Just like the characters in the book I felt like I never really got to know Joel. He seemed nice, but I didn’t feel it. I never felt like I really knew what was going on. The writing style is very matter of fact and while emotions are mentioned there isn’t much depth. Joel quickly adjusts to live in 1941 and at times I felt like it was a bit too easy for him to adapt, he never seemed to think of what he left behind. And while I agree that dwelling on it wouldn’t have helped him, it just felt like he was able to put it all behind him a little bit too fast. I never was able to really connect with Joel, but I liked how he seemed easy going and managed to adapt to this new reality pretty fast.
The side characters were nice, but at times I had some trouble remembering their names. The Carter family really made Joel feel at home and they seemed like such a nice family. The girl Ginny, katie. Laura and Grace were a fun addition to the cast and I quickly managed to remember who was who as they all had a distinctive personality. So all in all the side characters were done well and managed to add flavour and personality to the book.
Then there’s the romance, I never would’ve expected the romance to play such an important part. There is some sort of double love triangle and it irked me a bit that Joel went after a girl who was engaged, but it was handled well. And it was only because she encouraged him that he didn’t drop his pursuit. There is also some romance among the side characters. A big part of this book focussed on the romance and while it was nice, I didn’t really feel it. That seems to be the theme of this book for me, it was a great story, but I felt like someone told it to me instead of I experienced it. And beside that I was still able to get immersed into this world and enjoy the book.
Then there’s the time travel element. I have to say it bothered me less than I expected. The explanation was so weird and bizarre and there wasn’t much focus on it, that I quickly could accept it and enjoy the rest of the story. Also I liked the fact that it isn’t really about the time travel, although there was some scenes towards the end that raised some of my usual time travel questions and that voice in my head telling me it didn’t make sense. But nevertheless I was able to enjoy this book and I think this showed that even though the whole item travel concept rubs me wrong, I can still enjoy books with time travel.
Most of the story takes place in the past and it’s obvious the author has done his research, historical events are mentioned and I never doubted it was all accurate. I really liked that and it was fun to read about a book that took place in the past and seeing how world war 2 impacted America as I always only learned about the Europe side of the war in school. Although I did wish there would’ve been a bit more descriptions. I knew we were back in time, but sometimes it was easy to forget they were in the 1940’s. They didn’t have any modern appliances, but it wasn’t always obvious it was 60 years in the past. I would’ve liked a bit more hints about this and how Joel adapted to these changes as it all seemed a bit too seamless, almost like Joel belonged to this age.
To conclude: while I had some issues with this book I still was able to enjoy it and it was a great story. I didn’t really feel what was going on and the writing was a bit dry at times, more telling then experiencing. Due to this I had some trouble getting into this book and connecting with the characters. In the end that all got better I really enjoyed the last 100 pages. The time travel aspect isn’t as prominent as I expected and the focus is more on the romance, which worked for me. I would’ve liked getting more of a feel for this time, but all in all I enjoyed this book and will probably read more books by this author.
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