Time Salvager – Wesley Chu

A couple of things up front.  I love Wesley Chu’s writing and adore his Tao Series.  I was more than a little excited to get this.  I preordered the audio version assuming Mikael Naramore was narrating it as he did the Tao Series.   I didn’t check in my bouncing anticipation.  – So, this is where I say the experience was not what I expected.  I did like it – once I got over the fact it was narrated by Kevin T. Collins.  He’s not bad, but he was not what I was anticipating.  That, combined with the fact I listened to the first two chapters at 1.25 speed by accident, didn’t help the situation.  The first two chapters did not impress me.  I had new characters.  I grew to love Grace, The Mother of Time, but I was disgusted with her decadent and crass introduction.  I need to reiterate, I did grow to like ‘Time Salvager’, but I stopped listening after the first three chapters.  I had already read one book recently where I had pushed on when I was not in the mood for it.  It did not help that situation and only led to me being unhappy and grumpy about it.  I wasn’t going to make the same mistake with this book.  I waited.

So, it was with much lower expectations, I started to listen to it a couple of weeks later – at the correct speed and no unfair expectations for Collins or Chu.  It was much better.  Time Salvager is basically a Space Opera about a time-traveling, drunk, bounty hunter named James Griffin Mars.  He’s not very old but he’s precocious in becoming a weathered old grouch.  He’s also not really a bounty hunter.  He’s a respectable chronman who travels to the past, with very specific and important rules, to steal power generators and technology moments before it’s to be destroyed.  – All in the pursuit to save humanity.  It’s a losing battle.  The future is not bright and the worst thing about his job is coming back to his present time.  Most Chronmen don’t last very long.  They either die during a job or fly off in a blazing suicide.  Very few can buy out of their contracts and many try to hide in the past.  That creates time ripples, however, so the Auditors must come back for you, kill you, and anything and everything you screwed up to fix the timeline.  It’s not a happy situation.

When James and his best friend (only friend) and handler gets news of a job that can shave years off their contracts they jump – as much as a man like James jumps at anything.  It’s shady, for the Valta Corporation, and his Handler has to keep him sober enough to get through the psychological review for this certain death job.  This job destroys everything in James life.  He will break the time laws he holds sacred, become a traitor to Chronocom, lose his mind, and maybe find a chance for redemption.

Space Opera is not my first love, but I adore time-travel and science fiction.  I say this to give you some context to my opinion.  Chu created a dystopia.  It is dark, but Chu is Chu, so he still laced in humor and characters I grew to love despite their flaws.  What isn’t obvious is the book is about relationships, trust, loyalty, and people allowing themselves to feel emotion – any emotion.  When the future is so dark you stay drunk on really bad whiskey so you can get to the past to drink amazing vintage bottom shelf whiskey this is a challenge.

Chu wrote a good story.  I enjoyed it but he indulged in creating his own futuristic lingo and curses.  I understand why people do it.  I agree that people in the future will say different things than we do and to use current slang will date it, but I hate it.  I hate when anybody does it.  It’s not just Chu.  The rest of his writing is fine.  He uses more profanity, both modern and made up, compared his other books but it was only noticeable in the first couple of chapters.  It is something to be aware of, however, if it bothers you.

I will definitely be reading the second book that is planned.  The story has good bones.   I will also listen to it.  I was not initially impressed with Collins narration but it grew on me.  He established a rhythm and distinguished Chu’s characters.  In the end he won me over.


About Steph

As C. S. Lewis said, “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” I am an indiscriminate reader. I can find a way to enjoy almost all books. I find they are like people – you can find something endearing in almost every one of them. I love to write reviews. I hope you enjoy them and find them useful. View all posts by Steph

8 responses to “Time Salvager – Wesley Chu

  • Tammy

    I’ve always wondered if I’d like a book more or less if I listened to the audio,. I loved this book but I read the print version. I do know what you mean about futuristic swear words though. Sometimes they just seem silly:-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Steph

      I liked the book a lot but I don’t know if I would like it more in print…I think I would have definitely liked the first part better in print…although I really don’t know. I’m glad you understand my frustration with futuristic swear words. It’s nice to know someone else finds them silly too.


  • Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I read this book in print, so I can’t really comment on the audio performance, but I did really enjoy Naramore’s performance on the Tao book I listened to (I think it was the first one)! I had wondered if they would go with him for TS even though by then I already knew it would be pretty unlikely given a different print publisher as well as TS being a darker book in terms of tone and style. I don’t remember if I’ve listened to anything by Collins, I’ll have to listen to a sample, but glad to see after an initially shaky start things got better. I get how the speed could have affected your enjoyment, though. To me it actually sounds more natural at faster speeds so I typically listen to audiobooks on at least 2x (and often even 3x).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Steph

      Should you decide to listen to this one I wouldn’t recommend speeding it up. I have sped up some because I agree with you, it can sound more natural. I don’t know if they are told to specifically speak slow.


  • Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    I really enjoyed this one. I also did the audiobook, but this was the first one of Chu’s books I listened to instead of reading, so I had no expectations one way or the other for narration. Glad you gave it a second chance 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Steph

      I am too. I sometimes have to recognize its not the right time for a book – for me. I really liked it. I saw that it might actually have a tie in to Tao on Goodreads through a comment Chu made. I’m curious. I wasn’t expecting that. I didn’t catch it.


  • MadProfessah

    I’ve never done an audiobook. I read my books the old-fashioned way, on the kindle app on my ipad! I liked Time Salvager also but not as much as the Tao books. I think Chu does a lot of things really well: fighting scenes, star-crossed romance, interesting plots.

    I thought he made the villains in this book a bit too one-note (mostly) and I really didn’t like the way he depicted the “savages” living in the ruins of Boston. However I LOVED Grace. I hope there’s more about her too. I will also read the sequel. I hope it comes out before the movie gets made (did you hear Michael Bay of TRANSFORMERS fame has optioned it?)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Steph

      I hadn’t heard Michael Bay was looking at doing the movie. I’ve got to be honest that makes me nervous. Chu’s nuances are the best part and Bay isn’t great at that. The book got better the longer it went. The way the savages were represented initially bothered me too but I felt it got better as James got to know them – since they weren’t really savages at the end but I’d say that’s the kind of thing that would definitely get missed if Bay did the film. While I liked this one I believe the next book will be better.


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