The book starts out very well. Then the angst and depression and problems start to pile on. Then the author suffers a mental swap with Mercedes Lackey and needlessly tortures the main characters. Then she lays down the required layer of tragedy. The real issue is that her reconciliation of the problems at the end does not overcome her needless tormenting of the characters for forty pages prior.
While I'm digesting the painful (blackened?) ending, I'll discuss the good parts...
This book is way off of my normal beaten path, both in setting and in voice. It is a regular fiction novel set in generally modern times, mostly in Chicago. The book is written from multiple points of view, all in first person. All of the narration is in present tense. First person or present tense is enough to make me edgy. Together, they make me squirm in my chair. But... the book was recommended to me by a woman who I admire and respect for her intellectual curiosity among many other aspects, and I really wanted to try it. So I did. As I told a co-worker during the first 40 pages, "I'm making an effort to get into the book, and the book is making a good effort to reach me." And it did.
The characters are less well-rounded than I might enjoy. Sometimes it felt like I learned more about them from the descriptive forces around them (vacuums, pressures) than I did from reading inside of their points of view. Reading across their respective histories did allow for a wider-and-deeper perspective on both characters, and gave me what is - for me, anyway - a unique angle on character development. I appreciated the logical structure that the author built around the when of the two characters knowing the what about each other's lives. She handled fate/determinism and linear timelines in a non-linear life really, really well. She also handled any meeting-yourself-in-time questions by the simple fact of having it happen under the same deterministic rules as meeting any other person. Trust me, it makes sense in her universe.
I can say without reservation that I enjoyed The Time Traveler's Wife for its simplicity, dual points of view, and woven storyline. The author is not a verbally stunning artist of the written word, and yet, she fits comfortably into my head. She crafts sentences that are easy to read, fun to imagine, and still avoid the choppiness of restricted vocabulary.