This dystopian novel has strong political notes and an unfulfilling love story. There are also a lot of references to behavioral psychology and cold war politics.
The protagonist, 17-year-old Adriane Strohl is a high school senior who has been chosen as valedictorian. Being the valedictorian is not a desirable position in the highly oppressive and tightly controlled society she lives in, but she is too naïve to realize it.
This naivety is a character flaw that I think is unrealistic for Adriane’s character. Her father is a physician who specializes in pediatric oncology but is working as a low paid medical attendant because of his MI (marked individual) status. As a young resident he was caught up in a Homeland Security sweep while at a park. This changed his life forever and Adriane is well aware of having to be careful in her world of heavy surveillance and intolerance.
Adriane knows this and yet her valedictorian speech, which she never actually delivers, causes her to be arrested by the Youth Disciplinary Division of Homeland Security. She is arrested for treason, exiled and teletransported to Wisconsin during 1959 to be reeducated. Adriane is now Mary Ellen Enright, an orphan and scholarship student at a university there. Adriane/Mary Ellen knows that her exile is only for four years if she completes her studies and doesn’t question authority.
Adriane/Mary Ellen doesn’t learn from her mistakes; she falls in love with Ira Wolfman an assistant psychology professor, 13 years her senior. Adriane is obsessed with him and realizes he too is an exile. Much of the story at this point focuses on Adriane and Ira’s thoughts and discussions about behavioral psychology. The love story between Adriane/Mary Ellen and Ira is very one sided and unhealthy. I feel this again is a flaw in Adriane’s character development. She should be stronger and smarter and the love story better developed.
Although “The Hazards of Time Travel” provides a fitting look back at life in the 1960s it doesn’t really develop or describe life 80nyears later in the futuristic dystopian society. I was expecting more of a “Divergent” or “Hunger Games” vibe, but it was not there. I had no problem finishing the book, but it wasn’t a favorite or a must read.