If you lost a piece of your memory... Would you trust yourself to have made the right choices... In the moments you can't remember. The Ferox assault has been escalating, drawing Jonathan into combat more and more frequently. With each passing day, he's grown stronger. He can't be certain, but his attackers seem to be getting...more dangerous? ...and, of course, Heyer is gone, again. Then came the glitch. Unexpectedly pulled from battle, Jonathan finds he cannot recall the final moments of his last confrontation. Convinced that his memory loss was no accident, he must uncover the truth. His only leads are a less than helpful artificial alien intelligence, and Rylee, a mysterious and possibly crazy woman, who seems to think they share a history he doesn't remember. With no means to contact the only being who can give him answers, and knowing he has gaps in his memory, Jonathan must make every move uncertain of the consequences. The blonde man better show up soon, because events hidden in Jonathan's lost memories may trigger a war humanity isn't ready to fight. The Never Paradox is book two in The Chronicles of Jonathan Tibbs, listeners who have not yet completed book one, The Never Hero, will have difficulty following. Parental Warning: This series attempts to keep swearing to a minimum. However, the sequel has one unavoidable usage of the F-word. This is due to its presence in a direct quote taken from another piece of fiction.
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I am absolutely delighted with how good this second installment was. Also a bit stunned if I'm being honest. Book One was really very good, but this--this was on a whole different level. I was afraid that Hodges would hit the Sophomore Slump. I shouldn't have worried at all.
Hodges, as most of you are probably aware, was working full time and raising a family when he wrote "The Never Hero." Since then he has stopped his salaried position and is now working full time on writing. It shows.
This is the rare book, exceedingly rare in fact, which does not fall prey to the pitfalls presented when discussing anything to do with time travel/time dilation/time bubbles/etc. The vast majority of books set up an interesting list of world building rules, but don't stick within the logical consistency demanded by the same. Hodges' discussions and explanations for the multitude of plot devices are, as far as I can remember, wholly logical and don't require much belief suspension. I appreciate this more than I can say and it makes the book significantly stronger as a result.
Hodges continued to build and expand on the subtle humor and geek references present in book one. Instead of beating us over the head with them, he expects that we will understand and recognize them when they occur. There are actually multiple layers of reference, nuance, and allegory at play here. Referential lines from earlier in the book come to pass and are played out later on in this story with superb delicacy and perfect placement.
The book also does a masterful job of developing the characters and making logical motivational sense. The exploration of loneliness, leading a double life, feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders, young love, etc... it is all present and accounted for. Hodges takes it a step further and delves into deeper concepts surround doubt (both of the self and others), loyalty (when and when not to give it), trust, and realization of attempts at manipulation. No, it's not a philosophical tome, but it does examine these themes and concepts exceedingly within the context of a science fiction story.
I clearly loved this listen, but here are a few cons just to keep things balanced.
There are some minor plot inconsistencies and deus ex machina devices utilized. Many of the government agents are either too stereotypical or underdeveloped (I don't know which). The Jonathan's Mother plotline (with the caveat that it may develop into something important and significant in Book Three) was irritating and, as currently understood/presented, shallowly pointless while verging on unbelievable.
Further, unless you are relatively well versed with pop culture references and reasonably adept at recognizing reflectional plotlines, a lot of the nuance which made this listen so exceptional will be lost. However, even without that, it is still a wonderful listen.
These are extremely minor complaints in context of a 20+ hour listen, the vast majority of which was superb and exceedingly well crafted.
In closing, I can see why it took Hodges quite a while to write this second book. It's 8+ hours longer and tighter, cleaner, and significantly improved from an already exceptional Book One. In all reality, my biggest complaint is that Hodges left us with a massive cliffhanger after a devastating final three hours. I know I will have to be patient because I want him to take all the time he needs to keep up the caliber of storytelling in this book. I just don't want to wait.
Highest marks, absolutely worth the credit and your time.
I have been waiting on this book since the moment I finished the first one and folks, this book did not disappoint! Another bang up novel by T. Ellery Hodges! What a crazy ride, all I can say is whew, Jonathan Tibbs has to endure some serious stuff. The book is great, get it and go get he first one as well. Steve Barnett does a masterful job in the narration and brings all of the characters to life. Be prepared for the mother of all cliffhangers! Now I need the third book!