’23 Minutes’ introduces the concept of time travel but only in short 23 minutes bursts, and there’s very little control of the outcome. When Zoe happens to witness a bank robbery she has to decide how to use her time manipulation powers to save people and catch the robber, with many different aspects of time travel fighting against her.
I give this book 3.5 stars (out of five). I really liked this book, it has interesting and engaging characters, comedy, action and drama. The main character, a fifteen year old girl named Zoe, lives in a group home and has the curse/gift of being able to turn back time by 23 minutes. Her power is kind of complicated so let me explain, she can turn back time but only in 23 minute bursts, within the 23 minutes if she wants to restart from the time she originally traveled back to she can playback to that time but she only gets ten tries or she can’t go back again. She remembers each playback or try but no one else does.
To activate her power she has to wrap her arms around herself and say “playback” (she also refers to each try as a playback). Her powers don’t work if other people are touching her and she can’t take anything back in time with her, when she goes back everything resets again. Now, Zoe actually doesn’t use this power often, it complicates everything and lots of the time what ends up happening after she plays it back is worse than the original outcome.
The story starts as Zoe is out in the street holding some important file (that we don’t find out about until later), it suddenly starts raining very hard and Zoe runs into the bank (the nearest place where she can get inside). She’s very obviously out of place, a young teenager with blue hair in a bank. So, she has to pretend she belongs there and make up fake business to get out of the rain, the bank security guard is especially suspicious of her. While just inside the bank a bank robbery takes place. One of the bank customers seemingly randomly pulls out a gun and starts robbing the bank; Zoe also happens to be the closest to him by the tellers, so she’s right in the middle of everything. And the robber, the security guard and the handsome older man who was talking to and helping Zoe end up in a standoff. With the boy Zoe labeled Jacket since he had an expensive jacket and she didn’t get his name, in the robber’s choke hold and the guard aiming his gun at the robber. Jacket tells the guard to take the shot and he does but at the same time, the robber fires his gun and both the robber and Jacket die, right in front of Zoe.
Once Zoe recovers enough from the shock, she play-backs time and ends up outside again before the rain started, and she has to try and make things right, minimize the deaths and stop the robber. These are the first few things she tries [big spoiler warning, if you don’t want spoilers skip to the last paragraph]; calling the police in advance (resulting in more people dying in a shootout), telling the guard in advance (he doesn’t believe her), going back to the bank and only slightly changing things (she ends up getting shot), keeping the Jacket guy (who’s named Daniel) away from the Bank -he dies in most play-backs and she thinks he might know the robber, so she thinks keeping him away might stop the robber from killing anyone-(more people die and the robber gets away). (More spoilers coming) So while she is busy keeping Daniel away from the bank she tells him about her play-back powers and the bank robbery, he believes her because they are close to the bank and they witnessed it (in that timeline). She gets him to give her a code word so that next time she can easily gain his trust and so in the next play-back she rushes to find him as soon as possible and tell him the story and get him to help.
Anyway, I’m not giving away anymore of the story because I basically just summarized it above but I will tell you the ending is very well written and I really like it. In conclusion, this is a really cool book about the concept of time travel. I love how it shows all the consequences that your seemingly unimportant actions can have and I think it gives a great perspective on moral dilemmas because even though Zoe could’ve just avoided the bank all together, she kept trying to save others.