Disclaimer: I was given this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review
Synopsis (from Amazon)
In 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 Whirlaway, 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 must admit when I approached this book I was a little sceptical. I was interested in the history element, and I liked the idea of seeing history being lived through modern eyes. However I was a little worried about the sci-fi element. Sure it was needed for the story to really work, but I’m not really a reader of sci-fi (the closest I’ve got I think is The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) and I was worried that there would be to much focus on the mine itself and not enough on the history.
Luckily I didn’t need to be worried. The sci-fi element was quite intriguing in its way, although I couldn’t wait for the ‘real’ story to start. Using Joel’s voice to tell the story was quite clever because it meant we could imagine how we might react in a similar situation (should one ever arise!). It worked well for the history element as well because it meant we could know what would happen through Joel reflecting on what he knew, but we could also see events unfolding.
I did end up liking Joel quite a lot. I think his experiences really changed him. At first he was rather cocky, and maybe a little selfish, but by the end he seemed much more thoughtful and empathic. I liked how he used his knowledge of the future without it having any giant impact on the past while still having an effect on those he met.
I was actually surprised about how emotional the book made me when certain events started to unfold.
There were a few things I disliked however. I found it took a little to long for the story to get going, and I didn’t really like the end (although to say why may be a little spoilerish). The cover isn’t great either, it gives a kind of boring representation of the book.