So I just read Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi and…
I really enjoyed it. With a unique story, it’s own time travel rules that (kind of) make sense and a beautiful set of characters I think this book is one every book lover should check out!
Before the Coffee Gets Cold is about a small cafe in Tokyo that allows its customers to travel backwards and forwards in time but there’s many strict rules. Customers must sit in a particular seat, they can not leave the cafe and, most importantly, they must return before the coffee gets cold. On top of this nothing you do in the past will change what happens in the future.
I did love this book so much. It really made me think about what I would do in that position as well as consider the people around me and my relationship with them. Time travel often focuses so much on making sure you don’t change the past because of things it’ll do to the future but this book makes time travel fully selfish, nothing you do will affect the lives of anyone but you.
The book is split into 4 chapters; the lovers, husband and wife, sisters and mother and child. Each chapter is interdependent but they all interact in different ways, characters being introduced in the chapter before. Because of this as the chapters go on you find yourself getting more and more emotionally attached, the first chapter being a good introduction to how the system works while the last chapter was an emotional rollercoaster.
I really like how this is written, it allows you to become comfortable with the system without being too distracted by the characters who’ll later become more important.
They also do a good job at helping you understand how the system of magic works even if it’s full of plot holes. The reason I say this is because of the fact that everything you do in the past will not affect the future. In the book they do explain this slightly, using the example of if you go back in time and shoot someone that person will be saved no matter what but my issue with this is this person will still have been shot. This will affect the way they live their life. I think this causes so many plot holes! What about if you go back and blow up the cafe? What about if you cut someone’s head off? What if you go back and tell someone something life changing? These things will change the future no matter how much you try and stop it.
Another thing I didn’t like much is that the rules are there but the consequences are never explained. If you get your tea get cold or stand up from your chair you know this is bad but what will happen is a mystery. I love when a book leaves you guess, hell I love Lemony Snicket and he’s the master of this but for these books I feel like it would add more to know the consequence. When people are running out of time with the coffee you don’t feel like there’s a threat.This is something I would have changed.
All in all I did love this book, it was really interesting and funny and sweet but it’s the kind of book you need to read mindlessly. I get that maybe I’m reading too much into this but surely a system an author writes needs to make sense and not have huge holes.
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