On board Janus - a research station located in between time lines - a group of scientists, historians, mathematicians, and soldiers observes historical events on what is known (only to them) as the Beta line. When they discover discrepancies between their own history and that of the Beta line, they discover that someone else has discovered time travel; someone who is using it to wreck havoc with history and its own sense of justice.
That's nearly what you would read in the back cover of this novel, but I found out that the description only covers about the first half of the novel. I would continue that by saying: "When one last jump into the Beta line triggers an unexpected event aboard Janus, the identity of the mysterious time-traveler is revealed and they discover that neither the past nor the future can be changed."
"The Line" by William Galaini is an interesting novel dealing with the concept of time travel. The idea of using time travel to see observe history is similar to a young adult series known as "The Guardians of Time" by Marianne Curley while the second half of the novel reminds me of the movie Alien. There doesn't seem to be a straightforward plot to this novel. When you begin, you think it's pretty straightforward and it was quite interesting as such. And then there was a shift, and I found myself thinking "what the heck is going on?" By the end, you quickly figure out what has to eventually happen but the way it was written seemed to be an impulse decision by the author. I highly doubt it was, but the switch was so jarring it left me doubting why I agreed to read the novel as it really didn't sound anything like the description I was given. Of course, that very well be my own fault, but there was definitely something missing from the description (which I added in my own synopsis above.)
The character development is interesting, and left me wanting to know them better, to know their history. We get that a bit with Mary in the opening chapter (and the switch from that was just terrible. I have no idea why the novel even started that way) but not much else. This makes sense, as the characters don't know much about each other either. Overall I didn't really get the sense the characters were well-rounded. Yes, we learned a bit about them, but it was all very superficial and nothing that really connected me with any of the characters. I didn't even really get an idea of their ages. I vaguely think Mary is in her forties or older, which is a huge leap from the first chapter where she's in college. Again, I have no idea why that was the introductory chapter, as it didn't even really tell me anything about her other than the fact that she had once been engaged....decades ago, it seems.
Is it an interesting novel? Yes. I'm not sure if I would recommend it, but it has some unique ideas about time travel. I'm sure hardcore sci-fi enthusiasts may have an issue with the physics of it all, but for someone who cares more about the story than the logistics I thought it was dealt with well. It had an interesting underlying concept of ethics which seemed to be glossed over at the end. I would have loved to see a bit more developed with that, more internal conflict about justice and the ethics of changing history (or if it was always going to happen, that whole time-travelling conundrum.)
About the author
William Galaini grew up in Pennsylvania and Florida. His mother gave him an early love of reading, especially when it came to the great classics of science fiction. He is also a history buff and fascinated by mythology and folklore. His various vocational pursuits include being a singer in a professional high school choir, manager of the call center at a luxury resort, U.S. Army medic, prison guard, and middle school English teacher. As such, he is perfectly suited to breech a solid metal door, humanely restrain the enemy within, and politely correct their grammar all while humming Handel’s Messiah and drinking a lovely cuppa tea.
He currently hangs his hat, rucksack, and tweed smoking jacket in Northern Virginia.