May 15, 2023

Joshua David Bellin: "Myriad" (ARC Review)

Title: Myriad [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Joshua David Bellin [Twitter | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-Fi, Thriller
Year: 2023
Age: 18+ (but it can be read by mature teens)
Stars: 5/5
Pros: Mind-blowing variation on the time-travel trope, full of twists and turns - but also heart. Well-crafted, compelling main character.
Cons: At least one of the protagonist's actions is based on a leap of logic. At least one of the rules of time travel is unclear.
WARNING! Blood and other bodily fluids. Gun violence. Abuse (off page). Parent with Alzheimer syndrome. Suicide.
Will appeal to: Those who love the intricacies of a complex time-travel mystery. Those who crave a deeply human angle to it.

Blurb: Agent Miriam Randle works for LifeTime, a private law enforcement agency that undertakes short-term time travel to erase crimes before they occur. Haunted by the memory of her twin brother’s unsolved murder at the age of six, Miriam thinks of herself as Myriad - an incarnation of the many lives she’s lived in her journeys to rearrange the past. When a routine assignment goes wrong and Miriam commits a murder she was meant to avert, she is thrown into the midst of a conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of LifeTime. Along with her partner Vax, Miriam flees into the past in an attempt to unravel the truth before LifeTime agents catch up with her. But then her brother’s killer reappears, twenty years to the day since he first struck. And he’s not through with the twin who survived, not by a long shot. (Amazon)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I requested this title on Edelweiss. Thanks to Angry Robot for providing a temporary ecopy. This didn't influence my review in any way.


As a fan of all things wibbly wobbly timey wimey, I expected to get a kick out of Myriad, with its promise of changed timelines and temporal displacements - not to mention the dead sibling angle, whether the protagonist was supposed to try and save her brother in the past, or to fail to do that and continue to deal with her loss in the present/future. But after deceptively portraying time travel in a way that felt familiar for a while, Myriad ramped up the madness and let the unexpected take the wheel, with a series of wild twists and turns, up to the last, jaw-drop-inducing reveal...and beyond. I'll be honest - I picked up one of the clues early on, so there was at least one thing that I more or less expected...but you could say that the surprises in this book are as many as the timestreams Miriam enters, and I was floored by every single one of them after that first one (despite my being a seasoned reader and watcher of everything time travel). [...]


Entertaining/unforeseen time travel alone wouldn't be enough to sustain a book, though - and make no mistakes, Bellin succeeds in balancing (or more like, intertwining) the sci-fi/mystery/action angle with the human one. Miriam is an imperfect heroine - and a damaged one in more than a way - but one whose feelings and choices you can get behind (though I found her change of heart about a certain character a little abrupt, and also "Men crying is never a good look"???!!!). Her trauma/survivor guilt about the brother who died in front of her at the age of six and her tenderness toward her Alzheimer-affected mother feel authentic, and so does her inner monologue (though occasionally I was reminded of the fact that the author is a man). I can't tell you more about Miriam without spoiling the story for you - and believe me, I've tried so many times, and probably created multiple timelines in the process, in at least one of which I never finished this review (or, well, I wrote a mini review for lack of words). But suffice to say, under the time-travel-thriller facade, Myriad is first and uppermost a story about love, grief, forgiveness, sacrifice, courage; about making the right choice even when it hurts, and maybe, just maybe, becoming the best version of yourself. A heartbreaking story at that, but ultimately, one full of hope.


I have but a couple of small quibbles about Myriad that didn't affect my reading pleasure, but that I wanted to address in case someone feels like discussing the book with me. There was at least one instance where it seemed to me that Miriam's speculations - and her consequent actions - were based on a leap of logic. Also, one of the effects of time travel felt inconsistent (if going back and messing with the past erases your previous self, why doesn't it happen every time? I have theories about that, though). Regardless, I found Myriad to be a gorgeously written and mind-blowing take on time travel with a lot of heart, and as much as I love rereading, I wish my mind could travel to the past to experience it for the first time again 🙂.

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  1. 5 out of 5! How wonderful. I seem to be a very forgiving reader because I don't seem to care if I have to suspend disbelief or it's a bit illogical as long as I am entertained. Glad to see this was a winner for you

    1. Well, I do point out small flaws, but even I can overlook them if the book is good enough 😉.

  2. Ah it's here ! THE REVIEW. Ha

    Fleeing into the past never gets old for me lol. Love that. And the fact that it managed to floor you in spite of being a seasoned time travel reader. There's nothing better for me than a time travel tale with heart.

    1. LOL, first full review of the year, too 😮 (though not the first one I wrote - that one will post in July).

      Are you considering trying this one? I can see you liking it...

    2. Yeah this is a must read for me

  3. I wish I had requested this, it sounds like a book I'd love. Sometimes timey wimey loses me, but from your review I think this would work. Excellent review, Roberta!

    1. Thanks! I struggled a lot with it, so it feels great to be validated (especially by a reviewer of your caliber 🙂).

      I can't believe you missed this one! Even if time travel isn't always your thing.

  4. Time travel doesn't usually work for me but I'm considering giving it a go on audio. As I've mentioned, I seem to be able to handle books I usually dislike on there. Especially weird or angsty one (The Honey's, The Walls Around Us, for example).

    Karen @For What It's Worth

    1. You're slowly turning into my reading twin LOL.

  5. I can read some time travel stories as long as there isn't a lot of skipping back and forth that will confuse me. But this sound really good.

    1. I get it - some of us prefer more straightforward stories...This one is of the skipping kind though LOL. I loved it, but I don't think it would be your cup of tea.


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