Borrowed Time

Borrowed Time

Read Time: 3 Minutes

This was an odd one, but ultimately a good read. “Borrowed Time” by John Nolte explores themes of immortality, morality, and the fragility of human existence, wrapped up in a suspenseful and somewhat philosophical look at what it would be like to live forever.

Born many millennia ago, before the Aztecs and Olmecs, Joshua Mason has wandered the earth. He doesn’t grow any older, but he can die. When he does, he is reborn again in the shadow of a Joshua tree in the middle of nowhere.

The books flits between his current life where he lives in a motel with Doreen, a woman he has fell in love with, and her mentally stunted grandson, Charlie. Charlie is trapped with the abilities of a seven-year-old in the body of a thirty-something. The disconnect here is kind of weird; when we get the story as told from Charlie’s POV he’s obviously intelligent and cunning, but his interactions with the world are anything but. Slow, stuttering, and generally incapable of doing anything correctly.

Joshua’s story is of him trying not to get noticed in a world that is increasingly hard to hide in. Until recently, he could get away with lies and swapping identities, but with DNA, fingerprinting, and other tracking abilities of the modern world, he is always moments away from being discovered.

There’s a lot of murder in this book, both people and animals, so be warned if that’s a trigger. Charlie is a budding psychopath, lashing out at the world in the only way he can find control in his life.

Joshua starts the story with him volunteering to be murdered by a bunch of “rich pricks”, for fun. They, in turn, want to make sure nothing tracks back to them so they’re trying to murder everyone Joshua knows. Fortunately for Joshua, death doesn’t stick. He even uses it as a kind of fast travel at times, to immediately get from one side of the country to the other.

We get a lot of backstories for the main characters, and even some of the supporting characters, which added depth to the story. We also get a look into the future of Joshua’s world; one where the government is controlling the citizens through fear tactics.

The ending left me a little… “meh” if I had to put a word to it. The overall story in general was good, but it felt as if the writer had run out of ideas or wasn’t sure about how to finish it. Without going in with spoilers, the timespan which must be over billions of years just didn’t work for me.

The narration by Jim Seybert was good, though I did make notes about background noises throughout and some re-takes that were more obvious than others.

Will I give it another listen? Probably, but not for a while. It’s one of those books I can see myself coming back to at some point, but likely once I’ve forgotten most everything about it.


Speculative Fiction, Character-driven, Science Fiction, Dystopian, Suspense, Immortality, Thriller, Male Narrator, Dark Themes, Serial Killer
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