Book Review: Titanic Voyage by Julie Bihn
I want to tell you the whole story. But it’s muddled in my own mind. That’s the problem with time travel.
I’ve wanted to do a review of this fantastic novel for a while. I was waiting for my thirteen-year-old daughter to finish reading it first, so I could get her input as well. I purchased this novel for her because she’s been fascinated with the Titanic for years, but I read it ahead of her because she was reading another book at the time.
Titanic Voyage is a time-travel romance. For those, who are hesitant about romance books, it is light romance—more of a sweet friendship, and not cheesy or cringey.
This novel is written in first person as the lead character, Liam, talking to Clara, so it has a very personable feel to it. Nineteen-year-old Clara is a fictitious person who died on the Titanic, and twenty-three-year-old Liam is a 21st century young man living in Eloy, Arizona. He works at an historic theme park called Historytown in the same city. I’m sorry to say that this theme park doesn’t actually exist and the real Eloy isn’t all that exciting, but it was fun to have a story set in a place I’ve driven past many times.
Liam’s job is to operate the Titanic ride and where he becomes infatuated with one of the “holoactors” that portrays the deceased Clara. Things get a little weird when Liam is actually able to interact with this holoactor. When she accidentally drops her locket off the set, a new future is created in which her locket is discovered in the sea.
With this, Liam realizes that it might be possible to change the future—to create a future in which Clara survives. Liam partners with Rocky, the son of the owner of Historytown. Rocky is a spoiled teenage genius, who is excited to try out his programing skills on the simulation. Liam is the only one, however, who is able to actually interact with the holographic Clara, who might be more than just a holoactor. It seems that Liam might be speaking to the real Clara shortly before the Titanic sinks. But every attempt to save her not only fails, but threatens to erase Liam from the present.
Liam is adopted and of Syrian heritage, although he’s lived most of his life in Arizona. He takes his job in Historytown so seriously that he even adopts a fake British accent that he—a little strangely—maintains even off the job. I love how he ends half his sentences with “yeah” in a way that sets his voice apart from the other characters in the novel. He’s sweet and sincere.
Rocky is spoiled and eccentric (and at first a little annoying), but I soon fell in love with his character as well. There is more depth to him than first meets the eye.
Clara is, of course, sweet and heroic, and so willing to sacrifice her life for others that it became a frustration for me as much as it did for Liam. She might be a little too perfect, but then what else would you expect of a character that goes down with the Titanic while saving others rather than save herself? So I give her a pass as there truly were heroes like her, and she is based off of real accounts of heroism when the Titanic sank.
Titanic Voyage is well-written and easy to follow. It was a little odd reading a book set in Arizona that used British spelling, but I suppose that could be explained by Liam’s adopted British accent, and it didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the book. I could barely put it down.
Titanic Voyage is unique among time travel books in that all the “time traveling” takes place in a holographic simulation, yet contains many of the fun tropes of time travel such as changing timelines and paradoxes. I won’t spoil the ending other than to say it was satisfying.
It is an engaging read for adults, but also appropriate for teenagers.
Oh, and my thirteen-year-old daughter gave it a 9 out of 10. “It wasn’t as good as Harry Potter,”—that’s her metric for everything— “but I liked it.”