It all starts with a little lab rat named ‘Buddy’. And this little rat appears in very unusual places, including a few pages of Jay Hosking‘s debut novel Three Years with the Rat. But what’s shocking about this rat is the fact that he disappears for a few weeks at a time, but then appears again, unharmed, in the exact same location he was last seen: a little wooden box with mirrors on the inside. Is it a miracle? No, nothing as foolish as that. It’s time travel!
What does this young writer know about time travel, and is it enough to make this story believable? Yes, yes it is. Jay Hosking has a Ph.D. in neuroscience, which he obtained while he completed an M.F.A. in creative writing at THE SAME TIME. From my uneducated point of view, I think time travel is the only logical explanation for how he could have done both of these things simultaneously. Hosking is one smart guy, but what’s crazy about this is the fact that he’s delving into both the artistic and scientific parts of life, two things that are usually seen as opposites.
The story is told in a very interesting way. It begins in 2008, switches to 2007, and then to 2006. And then the second part of the book begins in the same way: 2008, to 2007 then back to 2006. This happens six times in total. Although it sounds confusing, it really isn’t because each section is clearly marked, and the situations that the characters are in make it clear which year they are in.
The narrative is based on a young man whose older sister goes missing, and then her boyfriend goes missingabout a year later. Something I didn’t realize until I started writing this review is that we are never actually given a name for the narrator, he’s simply ‘the brother’ or ‘trouble’ as his friends nickname him. I’m curious what Hosking’s reason for doing this is, perhaps it’s a comment on how insignificant this man really is? He’s ultimately just chasing after other people, and he’s constantly comparing himself to his genius older sister Grace when he’s not fighting with his girlfriend Nicole so we only ever learn things about him in reference to other people. It’s also important to note that characters disappear quite frequently in this book, not just physically, but memories of them as well.
I’m struggling to give an overall opinion of this book because I did enjoy it, but I was hoping for a better resolution in the end. I won’t give away any spoilers, but the ending fell a bit flat for me. Hosking did such a great job of building up the suspense that I wanted more from the ending. But what do I know? I’m no scientist.