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Paradox Bound

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Eli’s willing to admit it: he’s a little obsessed with the mysterious woman he met years ago. Okay, maybe a lot obsessed. But come on, how often do you meet someone who’s driving a hundred-year-old car, clad in Revolutionary-War era clothes, wielding an oddly modified flintlock rifle—someone who pauses just long enough to reveal strange things about you and your world before disappearing in a cloud of gunfire and a squeal of tires?

So when the traveler finally reappears in his life, Eli is determined that this time he’s not going to let her go without getting some answers. But his determination soon leads him into a strange, dangerous world and a chase not just across the country but through a hundred years of history—with nothing less than America’s past, present, and future at stake.

373 pages, Hardcover

First published September 26, 2017

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About the author

Peter Clines

36 books4,006 followers
Peter Clines is the author of the genre-blending -14- and the Ex-Heroes series.

He grew up in the Stephen King fallout zone of Maine and--inspired by comic books, Star Wars, and Saturday morning cartoons--started writing at the age of eight with his first epic novel, Lizard Men From The Center of The Earth(unreleased).

He made his first writing sale at age seventeen to a local newspaper, and at the age of nineteen he completed his quadruple-PhD studies in English literature, archaeology, quantum physics, and interpretive dance. In 2008, while surfing Hawaii's Keauwaula Beach, he thought up a viable way to maintain cold fusion that would also solve world hunger, but forgot about it when he ran into actress Yvonne Strahvorski back on the beach and she offered to buy him a drink. He was the inspiration for both the epic poem Beowulf and the motion picture Raiders of the Lost Ark, and is single-handedly responsible for repelling the Martian Invasion of 1938 that occurred in Grovers Mills, New Jersey. Eleven sonnets he wrote to impress a girl in high school were all later found and attributed to Shakespeare.

He is the writer of countless film articles, several short stories, The Junkie Quatrain, the rarely-read The Eerie Adventures of the Lycanthrope Robinson Crusoe, the poorly-named website Writer on Writing , and an as-yet-undiscovered Dead Sea Scroll.

He currently lives and writes somewhere in southern California.

There is compelling evidence that he is, in fact, the Lindbergh baby.

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Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.7k followers
December 1, 2019
3.5 stars, rounding up for the fun factor. Review first posted on Fantasy Literature:

Sanders is, in 8 year old Eli Teague’s opinion, the most boring town in the state of Maine, and probably in all of the United States. It doesn’t have internet, cell phone towers, cable TV or even a library (it does, however, have a video store). So when Eli sees a 1929 Model A coupe by the side of the road, and its young driver Harry takes Eli’s bottle of water and pours it into the fuel tank and takes off, hotly pursued by an odd man in a black Hudson Hornet auto with a large gun, it makes an indelible impression on Eli.

Eli meets Harry and her water-fueled Model A again when he’s 13 ― at which point he realizes Harry (short for Harriet) is a girl ― and again when he’s 29. Each time, Harry doesn’t appear to have aged appreciably. Harry mentions that she’s going to be at Quincy Market in Boston in a few days before she disappears from his life the third time. This time, though, Eli thinks he’d better find her in Boston and warn her that a (literally) faceless man is on her trail, the same man he saw pursuing her years earlier.

Complications arise, as anyone but Eli might have expected, and Eli and Harry soon find themselves as somewhat reluctant partners on a strange road trip that takes them back and forth across the U.S., and through different points in history. Harry is one of a loosely-allied group called “the Searchers” who are seeking the lost American Dream. The Dream is am immensely valuable physical item forged by the Egyptian god Ptah at the behest of the founding fathers. It mysteriously disappeared in the 1960s, and the searchers are digging through pockets of American history in a contest to find and control the American Dream, while trying to avoiding being killed by the faceless men, one-time protectors of the Dream who believe the searchers are endangering it.

Paradox Bound is a time travel romp (though Harry would correct you, insisting that it’s “history travel”) blended with an all-American road trip. It has a bit of a National Treasure vibe mixed with a whiff of Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol. Despite several tense moments and a little murder and torture on the side, Paradox Bound is a relatively lighthearted adventure. The faceless men are undoubtedly creepy and threatening, but also have a faintly cartoonish feel to them, perhaps because I never saw a compelling reason for them to be made eyeless and mouthless (how do they get nourishment, anyway?). I did appreciate Harry’s explanation that the faceless men are gifted with “certainty,” an innate ability to be absolutely certain of everything within about a three hundred yard radius of themselves.

This certainty, along with its ramifications, is a clever idea, one of many in Paradox Bound. The searchers learn to spot and use locations they call “slick spots” to slide from one point in time to another (“There’s a street in Dallas which only leads to November of 1963”). Folklore enthusiasts will enjoy meeting John Henry in the flesh; Star Trek fans will chuckle over his reference to transparent aluminum. A famous movie star that Eli meets once faked his death so that he could become a full-time Searcher. Apparently American history isn’t quite what we think it is.

There are weaknesses in Paradox Bound that keep it from reaching its fullest potential. The plot takes quite a while to fully develop, and occasionally got a little convoluted and meandering, wandering off into tangential byways. The characterization is on the thin side; I don’t think any of the main characters have made a permanent impression on me. I’ll remember this book more for its inventive plot and ideas. Not all of them worked for me, but enough did that I can envision rereading Paradox Bound and enjoying many things on the Second Iteration that I missed the First Time Around. (<---These are the names of two of the three pubs in a town called Hourglass, frequented by the Searchers.) Overall it was goodhearted fun, with some intriguing ideas on time and paradoxes, and an affectionate view of our country and its history.

I received a free copy of this ebook from the publisher through NetGalley for review. Thank you!

Content note: Scattered F-bombs.
Profile Image for Gary.
442 reviews185 followers
July 22, 2017
Peter Clines’ Paradox Bound reads like an extended pitch for a tv series. The silly-but-catchy premise has a pair of time travelers zipping around American history in search of the American Dream (literally), pursued by faceless monster-men who want to stop them. Along the way they predictably encounter figures from American history/legend, debunk myths and discover hidden truths about our nation’s past – the kind of “big canvas” setup that makes network execs wipe drool off their chins, even if the novel itself only plays at a handful of such possibilities. The plot ties itself off in a nice, neat, timey-wimey loop but also leaves itself open for further adventures. I’m thinking NBC, maybe USA if they want to go cable.
It’s exactly this kind of pandering to its own premise that keeps this modestly entertaining novel from being anything special. It’s mostly risk-averse in execution – likeable but bland characters, dangerous but not terrifying foes, clues and twists that titillate but don’t awe. Clines is an expert storyteller; he knows how to manipulate the reader by tugging a heartstring here and clenching a forearm there. It all ends up having a bit of a Wonderbread feel to it, though; just another product prepared for mass consumption – a (perhaps inadvertently) cynical by-product of a story that is paradoxically brimming with unjaded optimism.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with this ARC.
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,606 reviews1,480 followers
March 2, 2018
Sale Alert 02Feb18: This is the audible daily deal for $3.95 here

Time travel, this is not a genre of Sci-Fi I delve into very often. I sometimes can’t suspend disbelief enough to really enjoy it. And let’s face it usually the tension isn’t high enough because at some point you go back to before you broke a time line and just fix it. But there are always exceptions to this and I have really enjoyed Peter Clines other works so I was determined to read it even if it includes time travel.

I will give Clines props on his imagination. He did give the whole idea of how people time traveled and why a brand new spin. This is a bit like a mash up of National Treasure/Back to the Future with Matrixx elements. I did like the idea of all of it for the most part.
“So the whole American Revolution happened because of an Egyptian god?” “Such a silly idea, I know,” said Harry. “If it was true, there’d be giant obelisks in the nation’s capital, pyramids on the currency, noticeable things like that.”

While I really enjoy most of Clines works because of the way he weaves pop culture and humor into a story that has elements that always remind me a little of the Twilight Zone and anything JJ Abrams has done this one missed the mark for me just a little.

Mostly it has to do with the Time Travel. I’m already not a huge fan of that idea but then the rest was a lot to do with cars and history. I don’t mind either but it was just missing some of the pop that I really enjoyed from his other books.

Still it isn’t a bad story, for the most part I enjoyed a lot of it. There is Eli who lives in a town that pretty much is stuck in the 80s. Harry or Harriette has shown up in his life a few times throughout the years and it has made an impression on him. So much that he is just sure that the next time she blows into town he’ll run off with her. So he waits…and waits…and waits. It doesn’t go quite like he expected. It didn’t go like I expected either but eventually we all end up on the road.
What little Eli knew about being on the run was from half-remembered movies and less-remembered childhood novels about teen investigators. He didn’t think either source could be thought of as reliable. He also didn’t have much else to go on.

There are some great moments in this book. I loved the idea of the town Hourglass. I sort of time travelers resort that you can only go to 3 times in your life because while you are at one bar in the town another you is just down the street at a different bar.

Also winning are the bad guy singular and the bad guys plural. The faceless men are all very strange and creepy. In a small way they completely reminded me of the Agents in the Matrixx. Some parts of this were so strange and unique that Clines again gets mad props for being so creative.

The biggest draw back to the story is that some of the stuff is just breezed over. Specifically how time travel works. I mean yes to some extent just because you ride in a plane doesn’t mean that you understand the physics of the plane to explain to someone else but I still wanted someone in this book to understand it and explain it a little to me. My last super small complaint was the lack of romance, I wanted a little more of that for our two MCs although I'm not even sure if I wanted it between the two MCs.

Not my favorite of Clines works. If you have never read him I’d totally suggest reading 14 or Ex-Heroes as both are a lot of fun. Still if you like history and classic cars then this could be your favorite of his stories.

Audio Note: Ray Porter did a great job narrating this book. He is one of my favorite narrators and his voice is a pleasure to listen to.
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
2,919 reviews10.6k followers
November 2, 2017
Eli Teague lives in Sanders, Maine, the town that time forgot. A chance encounter with a Model A Ford and its driver when he was a kid sets Eli on a collision course with all of America's history. That is, if the faceless men don't get him first...

Peter Clines impressed the shit out of me with The Fold and 14 so it was a no-brainer when Crown came knocking with an ARC of Paradox Bound.

Time travel stories are something that's hard to do well. Peter Clines takes an admirable stab at it in Paradox Bound. Instead of traveling through all of time and space, Eli and the searchers travel through American history, searching for the missing American dream.

Feeling more like a road book than a standard time travel story, Paradox Bound has a lot of innovative things about it. The faceless men, generic feds with no faces, protect the American dream until it is stolen and lost to history. Scores of people scour history looking for the American dream and the power to shape the country. Eli and Harry are just two such searchers, tooling around in a Model A and trying not to die.

The book maintains a pretty gripping pace. While I knew Eli wouldn't die, I wasn't sure about Harry or any of the other characters. Peter Clines did a great job with time paradoxes and keeping the proceedings logical while still being outlandish.

While I enjoyed this book, I didn't love it. I think Clines set the bar a little too high in 14 and The Fold. It had a less serious tone than either of those books. However, that wasn't the part that really rubbed me the wrong way. Eli makes a couple leaps in logic in the last 20% of the book that really didn't sit well with me. I can buy time, sorry, history travel, but I couldn't buy the conclusions Eli jumped to.

Paradox Bound is a fun book but I didn't think it was nearly as good as his previous two outings. Three out of five stars.
Profile Image for Sinisa Mikasinovic.
136 reviews26 followers
November 30, 2018
Disappointed, if I had to sum it all up in one word.
Seriously disappointed, if I could use two.

I thought about this review for a very long time. Don't know how to start.

A couple of friends of mine read the book before me and have reviewed it here already. With one of them, I agree 100%. Instead of writing my own review here, I will just shamelessly steal hers in full and paste it here. Seriously, there is no point in trying to write something original - it will just be a copy of her own anyway. We both know the writer and the narrator very well by now.

So, if I give due credits, is it considered stealing? 🤣

I'm 42% sure that Jane, the most amazing Canadian I got to know in my life, won't sue me but I'm prepared to bribe my way through if need be. As already established, I have no shame 😅

Also, isn't imitation the sincerest form of flattery? I think this is a huge compliment.

Here we go, copy/paste:


3 stars for the Audible version narrated by Ray Porter.

Sigh. I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that I *want* to like Peter Clines' books more than I actually *do* like them.

I first read 14 without really knowing what the genre was (I'm not sure if anyone actually does know), and was thoroughly charmed by the characters to the point that I was fully engrossed in the story and didn't mind too much when the plot went places that are usually just not my thing. Reading The Fold was similar (although at least I sorta knew what to expect from his work by then); the characters were engaging and that made it worth putting up with the bits of plot that left me cold.

But omigoodness, Paradox Bound just took way toooooooo long for me to care much about the characters to be able to get at all invested in this very odd and American-centric story. I eventually warmed up to main character Eli and enjoyed the interactions he had with Harry. In fact, if I could choose a plot more to my liking I'd be thrilled to follow these characters on another adventure. That said, I found it really hard to care very much about anything that happened in this story. By the time I cared about the characters, the book was nearly over.

This would have been a 1.5 or 2-star book, but it gets bumped up a bit for the eventual character development and the (as always) awesome narration work by Ray Porter. If time travel is your jam, maybe you'll like this more, but otherwise I'd give this one a pass.


Jane's review ends here. I can only see one difference between our opinions here - I don't think the book has such a high redeeming factor at the end.

It pissed me off too much already in the first 10 hours of it to be able to pull through in the last 2. So that's what it gets - 2.


Paradox Bound
by Peter Clines (Author), Ray Porter (Narrator)

Verdict     No matter how much you love Ray, don't.
Runtime     12:30
Profile Image for Jane.
385 reviews606 followers
March 3, 2018
3 stars for the Audible version narrated by Ray Porter.

Sigh. I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that I *want* to like Peter Clines' books more than I actually *do* like them.

I first read 14 without really knowing what the genre was (I'm not sure if anyone actually does know), and was thoroughly charmed by the characters to the point that I was fully engrossed in the story and didn't mind too much when the plot went places that are usually just not my thing. Reading The Fold was similar (although at least I sorta knew what to expect from his work by then); the characters were engaging and that made it worth putting up with the bits of plot that left me cold.

But omigoodness, Paradox Bound just took way toooooooo long for me to care much about the characters to be able to get at all invested in this very odd and American-centric story. I eventually warmed up to main character Eli and enjoyed the interactions he had with Harry. In fact, if I could choose a plot more to my liking I'd be thrilled to follow these characters on another adventure. That said, I found it really hard to care very much about anything that happened in this story. By the time I cared about the characters, the book was nearly over.

This would have been a 1.5 or 2-star book, but it gets bumped up a bit for the eventual character development and the (as always) awesome narration work by Ray Porter. If time travel is your jam, maybe you'll like this more, but otherwise I'd give this one a pass.
Profile Image for Gavin.
861 reviews392 followers
December 18, 2017
I thought Paradox Bound was another decent Peter Clines sci-fi adventure story. It was not as awesome as his Ex-Heroes series or quite as fun as 14 or The Fold but it will still a mostly enjoyable read.

Nothing eventful ever happens in Eli Teague's back water town of Sanders and the only thing keeping him there is his obsession with a mysterious stranger Eli has met twice in his life. Once when he was 8 and then again when he was 13. Both times Harry, the mysterious stranger, drove an old car, wore clothes that went out of fashion 100 years ago, and was being chased by the sort of guys that gave young Eli nightmares for years. When Eli meets Harry again at the age of 29 it is no surprise to see Harry still driving the same old car and wearing the same old clothes. What is a surprise is the fact that she looks exactly the same as she did when he met her the first few times! Before Eli knows what is happening he finds himself swept up in an adventure that will see him quest across all of American History while trying to evade Harry's mysterious enemies!

I usually love time travel tales and while some of this one was quite fun I felt like Clines method of time travel was a bit to vague and ill-defined for my liking. It meant that while I loved the characters and a lot of the fun cameos of people from American History I was never quite as happy with the plot in Paradox Bound as I was with the plot in Clines other stories. I did like the characters. The villains were fun and the time travelling duo of Eli and Harry were very easy to like. They made a good team and I enjoyed their witty banter as they made their way through time in search of the ever elusive American Dream!

Strangely Paradox Bound was the opposite of Clines other sci-fantasy/horror books 14 and The Fold in that they both started well before suffering a bit at the end while this one struggled a bit in the early parts of the story before wrapping things up in a quite satisfactory fashion.

All in all I felt like this was a solid enjoyable read. Not Clines best work but still well worth reading. Clines remains on my must buy list as he always delivers a decent story!

Note: Not book related but I did want to mention I enjoyed the tiny afterword at the end by Peter Clines. It helped clear up a few mysteries and helped inform me of a few of the cameos I had missed while reading the story.

Rating: 3.5 stars.

Audio Note: Ray Porter did a decent job with the audio.
Profile Image for Char.
1,634 reviews1,487 followers
May 6, 2019
PARADOX BOUND is not my usual fare, but I just adore Ray Porter, the narrator, so I picked it up over at Audible.

This was an enjoyable time travel, (or as one character would insist, history travel), novel. Based on the premise that certain spots are "slippery" and one can use those spots to travel. Most of those making use of the slippery spots are called "searchers" and they're looking for the American Dream, which is a little bit hokey and nostalgic, but there it is.

Coming after the searchers are the "faceless men", (nothing like the faceless men in Game of Thrones), but scary dudes nonetheless.

I had fun listening to this tale and the surprises the main characters encountered along the way. If there is ever a sequel, count me in!

*I bought this audio with my hard earned cash. *
Profile Image for Carole (Carole's Random Life).
1,717 reviews462 followers
November 22, 2017
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

This book was seriously fun! I knew that I wanted to read this book as soon as I saw it described as a time-travel thriller. I was completely entertained by the story from the first page. When I wasn't actually reading the book, I was thinking about how this kind of time travel would work. I am so glad that I made the decision to read this exciting story.

This book is told from Eli's point of view. We first meet Eli as a child and see him as he first encounters Harry. As a teenager, he comes across this same individual with her Model A Ford once again. After their third meet when Eli is an adult, he decides to find Harry so that he can warn her that she may be in danger. That is when Eli's life take a dramatic turn as he learns about people traveling through history.

I loved the time travel, or history travel, described in this book. There are two groups of people traveling through time. One group is searching for the American Dream while the other group is trying to stop them. The skip through time just by finding specific slick spots in the road that lead to a specific time period. Some towns are stuck in time while others have slick spots leading to many periods. The faceless men were also very interesting. The whole idea of their certainty gave me something to ponder as I went through my day. Who need eyes, a nose, a mouth, or a face when you have certainty? I was very glad that we were able to get a bit of perspective from this unique group.

The biggest strength of this book was that it was just a lot of fun. There were a lot of exciting scenes and enough mystery to keep me guessing. I thought that the whole concept of the story was well thought out and incredibly original. I also really appreciated the fact that the characters didn't get sidetracked with romance. Eli and Harry are simply working together to find the lost Dream.

I would highly recommend this book to others. I found this to be a really fun and exciting read filled with great characters. This is the kind of story that almost feels like it should be made into a movie or television show. I look forward to reading more from Peter Clines soon.

I received a review copy of this book from Crown Publishing via Blogging for Books and NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
This was great! I found this story to be very entertaining and it kept me guessing the whole time. I found myself really thinking about how this would work anytime I wasn't actually reading the book.
Profile Image for Choko.
1,196 reviews2,583 followers
December 15, 2017
*** 3.33 ***

A buddy read with my family @ BB&B! Because we are always ready to check out something new:):):)

When Eli meets Harry starts a bit earlier in life for the comics-loving precocious little guy Eli, who is only eight years old but thinks of himself as a very mature and grown up man. Their first meeting takes only several minutes, just enough to learn each-others' names and to spark a life-long interest in history and cars into his very nerdy soul:):) Their second encounter was when he was a very uncomfortable 13 year old, and this cements Eli's belief that in the perpetually dull town of Sanders, Maine, girls called Harry with a car 1929 Model A coupe and a tricorn hat are anything but normal. And he is fed up with normal. The anomalies call to him and Eli wants to find Harry and her cool car more than anything, or he has to accept the gray, dull daily grind in the fallen off the wave of progress small town America...

Eventually, just like in the movie of Harry and Sally, they end up traveling together, only with less romance and more traveling. And by traveling I am talking time-traveling, or as the author is very insistent on letting us know, so we are aware of our parameters, it is traveling in History, the United States history.

"... “So the whole American Revolution happened because of an Egyptian god?”
“Such a silly idea, I know,” said Harry. “If it was true, there’d be giant obelisks in the nation’s capital, pyramids on the currency, noticeable things like that.”
Eli opened his mouth to respond, then shut it.”..."

So, there isn't infinite time that could be revisited, but even in the several hundred years of the States history, there are infinite combinations of times and places you could go to... There are hundreds of people who call themselves Searchers, who are capable of doing this History Travel, and all of them are searching for the American Dream. Yes, the one all the people on our planet have made legendary, the one with promises of happiness and justice, and even the freedom to be all you can be if you only put your back into it, have some luck, or are born into it, of course... Only, in this version, Mr. P. Clines will have us believe that the American Dream is an actual physical object, created around the American Revolution petitioned for by the Founding Fathers by a G-d and infused with some magic through a sacred right the founding fathers had performed in a ritual... And this is what the foundation of the American Dream is based on, so to preserve it, they had also created an army of Faceless Men whose only purpose in life is to protect and preserve that dream. The Dream object has created somehow those "slick spots" in History, which allow the travelers to ride through time and revisit specific events. It also influences some places in the American continent and causes them to get stuck in certain time period, stalling progress and creating a cultural time-loop, in a way...

"... ““Look,” Eli said, “you told me slick spots form when a lot of people think everything’s perfect. The dream works on them wanting things to stay the same, right?”
“Correct,” said Harry.
“Believe me, nobody thinks that in Sanders.”..."

I would have been much happier with the book, if the author had put a bit more thought into the mechanics of the History Travel and was less vague with it than just the obvious homage to "Back to the Future" and left it to the reader to fill in the gaps... I am cool with that usually, but here there were too many logistic holes and my brain rebelled a bit. In my opinion, in order to have a solid world which doesn't leave the reader feeling like they are floundering and lost, you have to have well established rules and magic laws. Everything less makes the reader doubt and the world looses credibility. What I did love was how easily the author creates two very likable and believable main characters and the funny and pleasant banter between them and all the secondary players. This author obviously has a way of telling the story, only in this case the foundation was a bit shaky...

"... “Have you ever heard stories of children lost in the woods? When it takes days to find them, how often are they right near where they first vanished? No one can find them because they’re in the last place most people think to look.”
Eli looked at the houses and cars as they flew past. “Isn’t everything in the last place you look, technically?”..."

Overall, I loved Eli and Harry, I only think they deserved a better structured story. The dialogue was very pleasing and I enjoyed the whole thing, just not as much as I could have. However, I am intrigued enough to definitely look the other works of this author as well:):):)

"... ““I’m afraid not. Others have tried. They were killed.” She sighed. “That’s just the way of the search. Sooner or later, almost all of us catch a bullet in the head, like they did to Theo. It’s how Roscoe died. And Phoebe.”..."

Now I wish you all Happy Reading and may you always find what you need in the pages of a good Book!!!
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,028 reviews2,605 followers
October 12, 2017
3 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2017/10/12/...

Despite my love for time travel stories, sometimes they can be hard to wrap my head around. I think that might be why I struggled a little with this one, even though I’m a huge fan of Peter Clines and look forward to every new novel of his that comes along. They’re always so unique and original, and yes, a lot of the time, they can be quite strange as well. Paradox Bound turned out to be one of these books, and while I enjoyed it overall, there were admittedly parts of it that grew out of control and tested my patience.

Our protagonist Eli Teague was just a young boy when he first met Harry. Dressed in a Revolutionary War outfit while stranded on the side of the road with her broken-down hundred-year-old car, she had stuck out like a sore thumb in a small town like Sanders, Maine—where nothing ever changes and nothing interesting ever happens. But soon after Eli stopped to help, he noticed a second strange vehicle speeding towards them, and what he saw behind the wheel was so disturbing, and so impossible, that the sight made him lose control of his bladder. Upon noticing the other car’s rumbling approach, Harry’s response was also panicked and immediate, and a split second later the two cars were off in a cacophony of screeching tires and gunfire before Eli could even register what had happened.

In the decades after this event, Eli would meet Harry several more times—but each time, even though Eli would be older, Harry would look just as she did the day of their first encounter. Each time, Eli would also become more and more obsessed about this bizarre pretty woman whose random appearances in his life seem to be tied to his fate. Who is she? And where did she come from? Eli wants answers, but what he ends up getting is much more than he expected. It turns out Harry is part of a shadowy group known as The Chain, whose members can travel back and forth through history, and in aiding her in the search for an artifact called the “American Dream”, Eli has inadvertently managed to get himself targeted by the same nefarious enemies who are hunting her. Now the country’s past, present, and future are on the line, as Eli and Harry must use all their wits to survive an adventurous cat-and-mouse chase across time.

Sometimes, it can take a lot of head-scratching for me to figure out why a book is not working as well as it should, but in the case of Paradox Bound, I knew almost right away. Firstly, despite the novel’s entertaining and punchy premise, it took a long time for the story to build and for the main conflict to reveal itself. As interesting as it was to read about Eli and Harry’s mysterious early encounters, I found I had a hard time caring about them without the necessary context, though to his credit, I think Clines did his best to provide it wherever he could. Still, time travel stories can be tricky, and this one might be trickier than most, involving a lot of complicated ideas and moving parts. In many of these cases, the concepts surrounding the time traveling aspect itself becomes so unwieldy and hard to manage that they end up crowding out everything else, and in order to get everything across to the overwhelmed and confused reader, other areas like character development must be sacrificed as a result.

That said, the story did have its brilliant moments. This is, after all, Peter Clines. While Paradox Bound may lack the breathless urgency which made his previous novel The Fold so addictive, the author clearly has a knack for action and suspense, so he knows exactly what makes a crowd-pleaser. The complex themes in it notwithstanding, there’s no doubt this book contains immense commercial appeal, and I believe readers will delight in getting to visit several iconic periods in American history as well as the chance to meet some famous historical figures, both real and fictional. The adventurous elements also gave this story an overall sensational, almost pulpy tone that I thought was slickly done.

And yet, I think these strengths only managed to counteract some of the weaknesses to an extent. Thing is, Paradox Bound is now the eighth novel I’ve read by Mr. Clines (told you I was a big fan), and having seen the incredible storytelling and character development he’s capable of, I just can’t say this was his best. Still, he’s certainly been setting a high bar for himself in the past few years, so my expectations going into this were admittedly high—perhaps a little too high, if I’m to be completely honest. Regardless, this small disappointment will not prevent me from picking up more of his future work, and I’m glad he’s continuing to push the boundaries of speculative fiction.
Profile Image for Sarah.
634 reviews143 followers
November 15, 2017
I’d really like to give this 3.5 stars. Looking at the caliber of books on my 4 Star shelf this year I rounded down because I just didn’t feel like I could put it up there with them.

It was a fun read, and my issues with this book were personal ones, not really anything at all to do with the book itself or the writing. Paradox Bound is about a guy named Eli, who meets a history traveling woman named Harry when he is 8. She appears two more times, once when he is a teen, and again as an adult. When a man with seemingly sinister intentions shows up at his job asking questions, he decides to warn her and hits the road. He gets a lot more than he bargained for.

The setting was fun. We get to travel back to 1850 New Orleans, 1853 Independence, MO. A small town in 60’s NV. We meet some figures through history, like James Dean and John Henry. My only complaint is that in our blaze through history and these tiny towns was that we didn’t really get to savor the feel of them. The author takes us to all these places without giving the reader a chance to settle in and enjoy the setting.

Harry was a fun character and I really enjoyed her personality. I found her very relatable as she is relatively closed off but still very caring to her friends. Eli... well. He’s not bad. He was sort of an odd duck. It’s mentioned a couple times in the beginning of the book that though he might of been an awkward child he grew into a handsome man. But because of his love for Harry it’s like he’s a handsome man who’s awkward and clumsy around girls. He’s also supposed to be very smart, but a lot of the questions he asked just make him seem naive.

Which leads me to my next point, that this reads like YA. You see, many times I had understood perfectly the points the author was conveying, but then it was like he didn’t trust himself to get the point across, or his readers to understand, so Eli poses a question about said point, and Harry answers it. If that wasn’t enough, there is another character whose storyline parallels Eli’s, and he will ask the same exact questions to his mentor. So every bit of time traveling science in this book is explained to you three times. It was redundant.

The last half of the book, once the stage is set, was a blast and I flew through he last 150 pages or so. There were a few twists and turns I did not see coming and they kept me turning the page.

All in all a fun time travel book.

I won this in a giveaway so thank you to the publisher and GoodReads!
Profile Image for Stewart Tame.
2,303 reviews89 followers
November 10, 2017
For the record, I won a free ARC of this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

I liked this quite a bit, actually. Two young people go on a road trip in search of the American Dream. But this is science fiction, not Kerouac.

Eli Teague grew up in Sanders, a small town in Maine so backward it still has a video store. As a child, he has a chance encounter with a mysterious stranger driving a Model A that appears to run on water. He encounters her again as a young man, though she appears not to have aged a day. Soon after that, the man with no face shows up at his job asking questions ... and Eli is off on the adventure of a lifetime.

Time travel can be difficult to handle, and Clines does a bang-up job of it, handling paradox and crossing paths with a deft touch. The book is quite a page-turner, with a few cameos from historic personages. There's even a Dr. Who reference for those geeky enough to pick up on it (I certainly did anyway. ) This was a decent light read with fun characters and a setup for a quest through American history that had me grinning from ear to ear. Definitely worth checking out!
4,862 reviews53 followers
October 9, 2017
I won this book in a goodreads drawing.

A young man stays in the village he was born in, where nothing ever changes, because he is in love with a girl who drives an antique car. Turns out the car is a time travel machine. They search through history for the American Dream, while a faceless group of policemen try to stop them.

A little sentimental, but overall, pretty good.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,962 followers
October 15, 2022
I really didn't know what to expect with this one other than the fact it was a Clines novel and it seemed to be SF. When I started reading it, it felt kinda hokey and it kinda devolved into a roadtrip novel with faceless government men in suits chasing them and I almost groaned as I got into it.

BUT. It turned out pretty fun. It evolved into something pretty clever and the time-travel hijinx managed to rise above the normal and by the end I had a really good time.

Viva la American Dream, lol.

Don't worry if you know what I mean. It's an inside joke. Not too bad, either.
Profile Image for Carlos.
588 reviews289 followers
December 19, 2017
What fun I had reading this book, it felt like Doctor Who mixed in with Sherlock and a little bit of Supernatural all together , if you love these shows then this book is for you . It is an adventure through American history in pursuit of the American Dream (yep cannot get more literal than that) , faceless men (literally faceless) in hot pursuit of the main characters and their friends. It is such a fast read that you will finish it before you get bored . If you like the description of this book, I would highly recommend it .
Profile Image for Jeff Raymond.
3,092 reviews180 followers
September 26, 2017
I'm a sucker for time-travel. I was a sucker for Peter Clines's last effort, which did interdimensional portaling right, and when I saw he had a time travel book? Alrighty, cool, I'm on board.

The end result is just okay.

As a child, Eli meets a strange woman. She reappears a couple more times, the final time is when he heads off to some time-traveling adventures with what can best be described as American time-traveling hobos seeking the literal American Dream. The premise brings us around to some weird wheeling and dealing, some interesting characters, and a conceit in and of itself that is really strange out of context but works in the story.

The big problem, though, is that it's just very difficult to care about what happens. The book gets very bogged down in its own premise, and ultimately took me out of the story more than I hoped it would. The great spots - and there are plenty of them - are too often overshadowed by the problem ones, and that's what keeps a good book from being great.

Overall? A fine story, but not something that needs to be at the top of your list.
Profile Image for Karen’s Library.
1,062 reviews163 followers
May 31, 2018
I thought Paradox Bound was a really fun and quirky take on time travel and really enjoyed it! It’s not actually referred to as “time travel”, however. In this book it’s “history travel” which even the MC has a problem remembering. Ha!

The beginning was a bit slow but eventually I got to the point where I fell in love with Eli and Harriet (Harry) and didn’t want this book to end.

I have to admit that the “faceless men” did scare the bejeebies out of me in the beginning. Listening to Ray Porter describe them in the audiobook gave me the creeps and I was worried I’d have nightmares.

And speaking of Ray Porter!! Wow! Amazing amazing performance! As usual! He made this book a 5 Star read for me!

I’m looking forward to seeing what Peter Clines comes up with next. I read The Fold a few months ago, but liked this one more! Now I need to go check out his other books. I heard 14 was really good.
Profile Image for Cobwebby Eldritch Reading Reindeer .
5,124 reviews271 followers
October 18, 2017
Review of PARADOX BOUND by Peter Clines

Author Peter Clines unfailingly delivers a vastly imaginative landscape, in every single novel. In 14, in FOLD, and in PARADOX BOUND, he gives readers an unparalleled reading experience: escapism, but not only that. He also stretches our intellects and ignites our imaginations. In short, he molds us into individuals enlarged and improved for having read his work.

In PARADOX BOUND, he introduces us to the concept of "history travel," as feckless but well-intentioned protagonist {and hero} Eli Teague of tiny Sanders, Maine, discovers that yes, Virginia, time travel exists, and you can do it while driving. The Founding Fathers of the United States had a lot more metaphysical grasp than is taught in history books and classrooms. They arranged the creation of an actual, physical, American Dream, which inspires citizens to expand and excel and to live their dreams (just as this novel inspires readers). But the Dream disappeared in 1963, and searchers travel throughout and across U. S. history, hunting it, while the ranks of "faceless men" track the searchers.
Profile Image for FanFiAddict.
548 reviews133 followers
September 25, 2017
First off, I would like to thank the great people over at Crown for the early copy of Paradox Bound and the opportunity to review it.

Paradox Bound is a fast-paced, thrilling, and imaginative read that shovels the American Dream onto your plate with a side of freedom fries.

Eli Teague is just a normal kid; well, he was before he met Harry. Clad in Revolutionary War attire and driving a vehicle that predates the Great Depression, Harry definitely stands out from the crowd in the 20th Century. As their conversation begins, a loud rumble is heard in the distance and Harry becomes rushed to get the show back on the road. Eli looks to where the sound is coming from and sees a vehicle zooming towards them, a hand reaching out the driver's side window and a gun in its grip. He looks to Harry, but the car is already around the corner. Both vehicles are gone and Eli is left to his bike and meager lunch. Similar appearances are made by Harry, both while Teague is older, and Eli has made it his purpose to find out more about this mysterious stranger; especially considering Harry hasn't aged a bit since that fateful day. What happens next is a rickroll of an adventure across the United States, chock-full of history, myths, legends, and faceless men bound to stop them at whatever cost.

I have been a fan of Clines since I picked up The Fold a couple of years ago. He has a way with storytelling that tends to always click in the right moment, tension always building up and then changing direction on a whim. The characters are likable and you always find yourself rooting for them until the very end, even if some of their decisions leave you scratching your head. The writing is simplistic and easy to pick up, and it is one that you can put down without forgetting everything you previously read. Clines also does a superb job of leaving little hints and clues along the way that all intertwine and come together to form a wonderful ending.

All in all, PB was a really fun read and is a book for everyone, especially for those who like a little history with their thrilling action.

Profile Image for Kitten Kisser.
433 reviews17 followers
July 31, 2017
NO Spoilers - I hate them.

I'm not even sure where to begin with this stupid book. I guess I'll start with the lame characters. The main character is a young man named Eli. Who cares. He is utterly uninteresting. Yet this dull dude who hardly ever leaves his town of Sanders Maine is able to figure out all sorts of stuff in days whereas it has either taken other much more experienced folks weeks, months, or years (or in many situations never) to figure it out. By the way Eli is super smart. How do I know that? Because other characters in the book say so. Woo Hoo! The second main character is a woman called Harry, short for Harriet. She is somewhat more interesting. But still not interesting enough to care much about her. The rest of the characters most certainly could have, should have been interesting, but instead they just floundered in mediocrity.

The premise of the book is different, but alas, I found myself constantly frustrated. Too many times I would find myself muttering that a certain situation would never fly the way it was presented. No way would folks overlook someones manner of dressing or speaking so easily or the type of vehicle they use.

Then we have the bad guys who are also the good guys. They are 'certain' so therefore there you go. If you don't understand, don't worry because Harry doesn't understand either & according her "No one knows." It's a common theme. I guess Clines was overly lazy & couldn't really come up with a 'why' so he just left the reader with the completely & utterly unsatisfying answer of, "No one knows."

As the back of the book states, "America's past, present, and future are at stake". When we get to the end & learn just what happens or doesn't happen to the dear ol' US of A, all I could think was, This? This!?! Is the grand finale?

I have to say I didn't realize just how much I loathed this book until I sat down & started to write this review. I was going to give it three stars, but oh my, no. Just no.
Profile Image for ash | spaceyreads.
346 reviews204 followers
January 4, 2018
Fun, quirky, sci-fi themed adventure.

In true Clines’ style, Paradox Bound is a movie-level entertaining adventure that will make you nostalgic for Back To The Future, Doctor Who, and Supernatural, and any other of such shows you might have watched. We follow a time-traveller and an unassuming sidekick (true to his stereotype, Eli is a bumbling, faltering apprentice and a self-declared loser who makes mistakes that literally gets people killed) on their adventures all around America, but, like, in the past. It’s a wild road trip meeting all sorts of quirky characters. It’s a treasure hunt passed down through generations with an explanation for it conveniently waved away because paradoxes. You have to go through with the action because if you don’t, you create a paradox sort of thing.

I found it fun and the plot unique, but I put down the book feeling like I just watched a cheap movie on TV. It was entertaining while you’re at it, but you take away nothing. I admit I was a bit disappointed because I was expecting the plot to have more to do with paradoxes, as the title claimed, but it was only mentioned briefly in the story. It was probably my own biases.

Clines’ is however, undeniable good at keeping you glued to the book, even if it felt like he applied all the right formulae at the right places, like the cheap movie on TV I was talking about. The point is he done it really well and I was sucked in. I finished it in a few hours – it felt like I was part of the duo racing around time and space too, and I cheered for their victories. 3.5 stars for that
Profile Image for Kristi.
62 reviews2 followers
August 30, 2017
I've read 14 and The Fold; both which are by Peter Clines. I enjoyed reading both of them so when I found out that he had a new book coming out, I was intrigued by the synopsis. of Paradox Bound. While it involves time travelling, it is rather referred to 'history traveling'. The faceless men reminded me of the movie 'The Adjustment Bureau' because of them trying to stop Harry and Eli on their journey. I liked that aspect of the story and how they were depicted. While this book wasn't as enthralling as the other 2 I've read, I did enjoy parts of the book. I did find myself also getting confused with certain parts of the book because of the "travelling through history". After finishing the book, I was kind of disappointed because I felt like the story was pointless.

**Thank you Net Galley for my advanced copy in exchange for an honest review**
Profile Image for Denise.
125 reviews
July 18, 2017
I won an uncorrected proof in a Goodreads giveaway.

Eli met Harry three times. When he was 8, 13, and again at 29. His hometown is boring and she is the most interesting thing to happen there. One of the faceless men in government showed up looking for Harry and Eli, thinking he's helping her, goes on a trek across the country to warn her.

When he finds her (yes, Harry is a woman), all hell breaks loose. He is forced to join her quest for the American dream or be killed by those faceless men. In their search, they crisscross the country and much to Eli's surprise, through history as well.

With everything going on in the book, I was impressed with how the author used what seemed like minute descriptive details in parts of the book and looped them back to create an aha moment.

This is the first book that I have read by Peter Clines. Will I read another book by this author? In a heartbeat.
Profile Image for Yashima.
Author 2 books5 followers
January 8, 2018
This read like „The Matrix Goes Back to The Future - an American Roadtrip“ with Adam Sandler and Kirsten Dunst. And I don’t particularly like road movies...

The pacing at the beginning made it a little difficult to get into the book and the somewhat boring protagonist with his creepy/stalkery behavior didn’t help.
Except for the slight twist of the setting is contemporary/historical US. I don’t know my US history well enough to know the references. So those are likely lost on me for the most part. The old-car-theme is not something that speaks to me either and so it took me two thirds of the book to get to the fun parts, where the plot picks up and a few interesting world-building bits show up. I wish the story would have spent more time with exploring the titular paradoxes... I expected some interesting twists and the book delivered those in the final third. Admittedly, these things need set-up. But somehow at the end I was left wanting more of that and less of the set-up itself.

I’d recommend this for someone with an interest in US history, a love for contemporary settings with a slight twist and for old American cars.
Profile Image for David.
Author 18 books337 followers
March 29, 2018
Peter Clines writes fairly lightweight popcorn sci-fi, showing his versatility more in terms of story and plot than characterization, dialog, or writing. Not to say any of that is bad, but he's not a craftsman and his books are not deep. He is creative and from his post-apocalyptic zombie/superhero mash-ups to his Lovecraftian conspiracy novels, I have always found him entertaining enough to keep reading his work. And then six months later I will look at one of his books and know that I read it, but I can barely remember anything about it.

That will probably be the case of Paradox Bound. It's fun, cute, and has some neat gimmicks, but it's basically about a guy, and a girl, who go on a time traveling road trip in search of the American Dream, being chased by Faceless Men, and all the characters are pretty stock archetypes and mostly Clines is taking his turn at a time travel story to spin his own explanation for Grandfather Paradoxes and Meeting Yourself in the Future and so on.

The main character, Eli Teague, is the sort of Everyman schmuck I kind of hate. I mean, I don't need all main characters to be heroic, let alone Heinleinian autodidacts. A protagonist who is kind of ordinary and flawed is fine. But the protagonist who spends most of the book whining, getting beaten up, and pushed around by both the villains and the feisty female love interest just annoys me. Eli isn't completely spineless, but he's kind of a wimp (we have the obligatory childhood story of being a fat nerd who was bullied, and of course his bully ends up growing up to become one of the bad guys), and when he meets Harriet (aka "Harry") their banter has all the sexual tension of an episode of The Big Bang Theory.

Harry is a time traveler in a Model A Ford, which keeps being referred to as "steampunk" because it's got a futuristic engine that runs on water. And because Harriet wears a tricorne hat. Look, people, just because you mix some historical anachronisms with advanced technology does not make your story "steampunk"!

Anyway, in this story, all the time travelers are searching for the actual, literal, physical embodiment of the American Dream, which exists because of something something Founding Fathers Masons Egyptian gods mumble mumble. They are chased by the Faceless Men who are like Lawful Evil Terminators.

Put it all together and you've got a good if not memorable yarn, which is about what I expect from Peter Clines. I would have to agree with the other reviewers that this isn't his best work (in his afterword, he joins the Trump Despair Train of authors complaining about how the 2016 election affected his writing), but it still satisfied me enough that I'll still listen to a Peter Clines novel just on the strength of his name alone.
Profile Image for Tim Hicks.
1,493 reviews116 followers
January 3, 2018
"Unsatisfying" is the word I am left with.

Probably because if you divided SF/F into two sides, Clines would be on one and I'd be on another.
Clearly the author is writing quite-successful books that appeal to his side.

How do the sides differ? Well, I think I read that Clines worked in TV and movies, and is a comics fan. This book feels in line with the visual approach thereof. A bit of "never mind the details, silly, let's get on with the story!" There's a McGuffin, clearly defined Bad Guys and Good Guys, and the setup allows the entire book to be a chase. What's not to like?

Perhaps there were a few too many (ideas from/tributes to) other authors (the psychic paper from Doctor Who being just one).

I'm not sure the book needed John Henry and James Dean (and no doubt others I missed).

And the unanswered questions! Let's look at a few:

The slick places - only searchers and Faceless are affected by them? Why are there no stories of semi-trailers full of fidget spinners skidding into 1936? Why don't the travelers ever end up in a head-on collision in the new time?

The unnoticed trains - casually dismissed with haha, we get a few reports of "ghost trains." Somehow they manage to use tracks that are always empty, and no one in the train system ever notices them, despite all the sensors in use for decades now. And in the pre-automation days, somehow all the required switches get switched.

WHY are the bad guys faceless? As far as I can see, it's just to make them scarier. But surgery?
And there may have been a suggestion that they have become ageless. I reckon people who can do all that stuff don't really need to be chasing people around. They'd have better methods.

What's with the people at the last stop who feel that they have found the dream (or their dream, anyway)?

I recognize the careful effort at (the special place) to avoid paradoxes. Good.

And I really didn't care for the near-the-end part where Perhaps what I don't like about it is what other reviewers mentioned: that unsophisticated Eli (who of course represents the reader) is consistently smarter than everyone else at figgerin' things out at key points-- even though the rest of the book presents him as actually being rather dim and unperceptive.

And don't even get me started on the Dream. I've never seen such handwaving in the thousands of SF/F books I've read. It's a thingy that Stop asking questions!

Anyway, this book seems to fall into the class of book where neither author nor reader feels the need for careful working out of details. For example, long ago I enjoyed several Larry Niven stories that used stepping discs to get around, and then enjoyed even more an essay in which he explained all the problems that would arise if stepping discs actually existed -- because I realized that he had worked that out BEFORE using the stepping discs in stories, and made sure he avoided the problems (or most of them, anyway).

ALL that said, it was a moderately entertaining book anyway, and could be read quickly.
If you thought Back to the Future was good fun, you could well enjoy this.
Profile Image for E..
278 reviews40 followers
October 28, 2017
This wasn't my favorite of Clines', (that would be "14")but it was kinda fun.

The feeling that so much of it could be referring to 2017 America, and the crappy direction this nation has turned, got me kinda wishing it could be this fun and easy to find that elusive American dream...
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