Distracting time jumps

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I picked up a book the other day – it had rave reviews and more importantly (to me) was a darker, grittier take on characters with superpowers – in other words, it was just my cup of tea. The reviews from readers did mention one interesting part of the book – there were two stories being told: the first was in the present, and the second was set a decade ago.

No problem, I thought and dove right in. The reviews I read didn’t do the writing justice I think, the author was fabulous.

But, the book began to lose my interest when time jumps, from various characters’ POVs came thick and fast every chapter. Every chapter was a time jump to weeks ago, or days ago or years ago.  It was distracting, to say the least and robbed the story of the momentum created by the chapters in the present. Just as I found myself immersed in the present, there was a time jump to weeks ago showing the character’s progression to this present point in time.

The story in the present was gripping, dark and engrossed me for the chapters I did read, but the numerous time jumps were just too distracting for me to focus on the story being told. Don’t get me wrong, they had a purpose – the jumps to a decade ago were the foundation for the conflict for the main characters, and if I only had to wade through the present and decade ago time jump, I would have finished this book. I kept wondering if every chapter needed to be in a different time though. Couldn’t some of the story have been better served without a time jump? This one I’m still thinking about.

When do time jumps get distracting for you?

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