The Mine by John A. Heldt
Book 1 of The Northwest Passage series
E-book, 290 pages
Self-Published by John A. Heldt
February 12, 2012
Genre: Historical Fiction, Time Travel
Source: Received from the author for review
“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 have to start by getting two things out of the way – 1st: I’m not a huge fan of time travel stories, but this one worked for me. 2nd: Don’t take the fact that it is self-published as a sign it is a lesser work. I know a lot of people shy away from self-published works, however this one is well-polished and so well built that it made my list of favorite reads of 2012.
In terms of historical to time travel ratio, the historical aspects definitely win out. The time travel element is only heavily accentuated in the very beginning and end. I actually found myself wishing that Joel had reacted more to finding himself 60+ years in the past. He seems to quickly accept what has happened and starts to build a life for himself in 1941. I, on the other hand, would have been freaking out! I think that Heldt created a good balance of including what Joel knows will happen historically and investigating how he will react to that knowledge. Will he do anything to stop or change an event or let it happen? Joel takes the approach to time travel of, “I don’t want to do anything that will substantially mess up history especially because I haven’t been born yet” approach – which is one tried and true time travel belief.
The author also equally balances the historical events of significance with the historical events of Joel’s family. He is interacting with his grandmother and her friends in 1941 and things that happen to them can affect Joel’s life in 2000. It was interesting to see how Joel walks that line and learns a lot about his family and deeper meanings for things he only knew passing references about. I loved seeing how he reacted to meeting people in the past that he knew in the future. I have always thought it would be so interesting to see and know my grandmother when she was in her 20’s, her stories are always so fascinating, and I could sort of live that through the character of Joel.
The 1940’s world that the author builds just exudes the feel of this period – from the cars, manner of dress, attitudes, etc. The author definitely did his research to make the period jump from the pages.
I LOVED the characters in this book – the certainly stay with you even after finishing reading it. They felt so real. Each was different and carefully crafted. The emotions that they feel really pull at your heartstrings. There really weren’t any characters that I didn’t like, they all fell somewhere on a moving scale of likeability depending on what was happening at the time – which is how we perceive different people in our life anyway.
This book moves right along and at 290 pages you will be done with the book before you know it. The first half of the book builds a character for Joel in the 1940’s while the second half of the book really deals with what Joel is going to do. This was one of those books I just couldn’t put down. I went to bed with 10% left of the book (because I had to go to bed sometime and get up for work) and all the next day at work I couldn’t wait to get home to pick up the book and finish it – which is exactly what I did when I walked in the door. The story and the characters just wouldn’t leave. I highly recommend this book (and book 2, The Journey – review later this week!)
Author John A. Heldt also has written The Journey (book 2) and is currently working on The Show (book 3). You can visit John’s blog for additional information about the book. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, you can read a sample of chapter 1 on the Amazon page.
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