This is the first Diana Wynne Jones book I ever read. Having just heard that Diana Wynne Jones has passed away, I've come back to press myself harder to say exactly how her book changed my life. At Christmas and birthdays he'd send carefully selected hardcovers that were clearly serious books: children's Literature, with a cosmopolitan capital "L." Each year after A Tale of Time City brought another Diana Wynne Jones hardcover, until either I grew up, or he developed Alzheimer's at a startlingly young age -- I'm not sure which event happened first. There's a lot of time traveling through different ages (Bronze, Iron, etc.) and cool details like the special suits and desserts of Time City. A Tale of Time City was the first book I read that amazed me completely. But even this horror that's reality couldn't defeat me completely; Diana Wynne Jones had revealed that there was a refuge, a respite, a place outside time. I know it's super corny to say, but as long as people read her books, Diana Wynne Jones will remain, in some vital senses, alive.
As usual, Diana Wynne Jones' imagination runs rampant, giving us a fun adventure with lots of amazing ideas packed in.
A Tale of Time City is many things: utterly confusing, fantastically imaginative, highly intelligent and unexpectedly complex. This book precedes the Harry Potter series, but while reading it you really wonder if JK Rowling was perhaps a Diana Wynne Jones fan.
I honestly don't know what my issue is with this book. Nothing was explained in detail -- from the science and politics to the setting and items they used (I got so lost so many times.) The prose felt messy and jumbled (and not just because of the many misplaced commas and periods -- I don't know who's to blame for those, but they pulled me out several times.) There were definitely some interesting ideas in this book -- I loved the time ghosts -- but reading it was a slog.
First, children are not adults. Time City I felt did a great job of showing adults who were just as concerned about the time crisis as the kids, but because of factors like their age, values, and responsibilities had a different view of what was important and thereby wound up hindering the children rather than joining with them.
With nowhere else to go, Vivian goes along with Jonathan and Sam to try and find the real Time Lady, A Tale of Time City has a lot of great ideas but wasn't quite what I wanted it to be - this book had so many things going for and against it, that I feel rather conflicted. I like complex and overlapping plotlines, but I found this book confusing to the point that I had a hard time visualising most of what was going on. Time City seems a blend of different timelines but as everything is seen through Vivian's eyes, many things that we know in our present are new to her. While I loved Vivian, I was less impressed with Jonathan and Sam. I guess Sam was alright, I just didn't really care for him and I felt his personality was limited to the fact that he liked to eat and breathed heavily. Like with most of Diana Wynne Jones' books, there is a lot going on leaving no space for any boring moments. We don't get enough information about the Time Lady and the choices she has made, we don't really get to see what happens to Vivian at the end of the book and there are just so many loose ends and things I would have wanted to know about. So as a conclusion, A Tale of Time City has a brilliant main character in Vivian, has several unique ideas and is anything but boring. Jonathan also needed more space and time to develop into a more likeable character he was showing signs of towards the end.
As fabulous as that book is, though, Stiefvater acknowledged that she was inspired by Diana Wynne Jones' A Tale of Time City. And with the unraveling of Time City, history is unraveling as well. As such, Vivian, Jonathan, and Sam embark on a series of adventures to rescue time, eating the oh-so-delicious butter pies from 42 Century and trying to figure out who is causing history's major issues. Yes, the ending is a bit confusing, but that pales in comparison to the sheer scintillating superiority of the rest of the book.
FINAL I finished it but it wasn't an easy read.
I love stories about time travel, and I absolutely adore Diana Wynne Joness writing, so I suppose I was pretty much fated to enjoy A Tale of Time City. I would give A Tale of Time City high recommendations, especially to those who love a good fantasy and to those who are intrigued by the idea of time itselfbecause its just fascinating, isnt it?
Jones started writing during the mid-1960s "mostly to keep my sanity", when the youngest of her three children was about two years old and the family lived in a house owned by an Oxford college. Beside the children, she felt harried by the crises of adults in the household: a sick husband, a mother-in-law, a sister, and a friend with daughter. The Harry Potter books are frequently compared to the works of Diana Wynne Jones. Many of her earlier children's books were out of print in recent years, but have now been re-issued for the young audience whose interest in fantasy and reading was spurred by Harry Potter. For Charmed Life, the first Chrestomanci novel, Jones won the 1978 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, a once-in-a-lifetime award by The Guardian newspaper that is judged by a panel of children's writers.