Book Reviews

The Tourist Book Review

  • The Tourist.
  • Robert Dickinson.
  • 352 pages.
  • Science Fiction / Thriller / Time Travel / Mystery.
  • My rating: 2.5 stars out of 5.


Book Blurb:


It’s expected to be an excursion like any other. There is nothing in the records to indicate that anything out of the ordinary will happen.

A bus will take them to the mall. They will have an hour or so to look around. Perhaps buy something, try their food.

A minor traffic incident on the way back to the resort will provide additional interest – but the tour rep has no reason to expect any trouble.

Until he notices that one of his party is missing.

Most disturbingly, she is a woman who, according to the records, did not go missing.

Now she is a woman whose disappearance could change the world.

Book Review:

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The tourist is a funny book to try to classify as it’s an amalgamation of two different genres, it’s part conspiracy thriller and part science fiction novel with time travel being one of the major elements throughout the book.

The basic premise of the book is that, in the 24th century time travel is now possible and people from that century travel back through time to various different eras and centuries in the past. The 21st century is one of the favourite destinations for these travellers or as the book’s title suggests tourists, which for lack of a better term they are. There is a fixed point between the 24th century and the 21st making travel easy compared to other centuries where there are no fixed travel points.

The 24th treat the 21st as a holiday destination with the tourists travelling with various different travel companies, Tri-Millennium is the company that the tourist of the title uses, the cheapest of the three companies. There’s another reason that the 21st is so popular and that is that sometime later, according to the book around 60 years after the time that the 21st century parts of The Tourist are set a NEE (Near Extinction Event) takes place, destroying most the electronic archives and nearly ending the world. Unfortunately we are never told what the actual NEE is, whether or not the author is saving the cause for future books I don’t know but it would have been nice to have found out what happened to set off the NEE and the resulting consequences.

The other reason that the 21st century is so popular ties into the NEE and is, because it’s the ideal time to stockpile resources and bury them for use in the future 24th century, the stock piles are procured and then left in a designated location. Now, the main reason for tourism in the 21st is as a holiday destination, the travel companies have built self-contained resorts for the tourists to stay and offer excursions and visits out into the real world of the 21st century, shopping malls, nature walks, general holiday activities so that the tourists from the future can see the natives (the term used for people living in the 21st) in their natural environments and interact with them.

Some tourists from the 24th also decide to stay in the 21st and are called extemps but most just stay for a short break and then return to the 24th. The resorts are set up in different locations throughout the world and as the tourists have been coming back to the 21st for some time now the governments have agreements with them in place and the natives are getting used to their presence.

All that sounds very much like science fiction and you could well be asking where the conspiracy thriller part I mentioned at the start comes into the book. Well, during a visit to the shopping mall, Spens (one of the main characters) a travel representative loses one of the tourists who went on the excursion. However when Spens reports her missing he finds out that she didn’t actually go missing as according to the records she never even existed – conspiracy!

The book itself follows two main time-lines and story arcs. Firstly, Spens a holiday rep from Tri-Millennium tracking down the missing client in the 21st century and secondly that of a prisoner being let out and accompanied by another character to track down and find some people in the 24th century.

That’s the explaining about The Tourist done, now onto actually reviewing the book. But first, I shall ask you, are you confused yet dear readers?

Now, did you answer Yes! Well then, if you did then you feel the same way that I felt while reading this book!

The Tourist is a very confusing book and is also at times hard to read and you have trouble trying to understand what is in-fact going on. There’s no distinction at the start of the chapters which of the two main story arc’s you are reading and while it only takes a few sentences for you to figure out which arc it is, it would have been better if the arc’s were clearly labelled at the start of each chapter to avoid any confusion, sadly you are also confused at times during Spens 21st story arc as to who you are reading about as the author jumps between Spens and the tourist at will.

There’s a lot going on in the book and the author doesn’t always explain what has or is happening, as I mentioned earlier in my review with the NEE Dickinson could be holding back information for any subsequent sequels. And, unfortunately he hasn’t quite gotten the balance right between giving you the reader enough to become invested in the characters and their stories and holding back more information for the sequels.

There are thriller aspects to the book to go with it being labelled as a science fiction thriller but to me, it is more of a science fiction book. The thriller aspects are the missing tourist and the fact she isn’t supposed to exist, some conspiracy theories taking place in the 21st and hints at a war in the 24th century. Whereas the Sci-Fi elements while similar in number far outweigh the thriller elements in the book. Time travel, signatures that are personal to each individual tourist, augmentation –  both physical and mental and then we have the 24th century humans. Now, 24th century humans have evolved, different metabolisms, paler skin and they are taller to, usually around 2 metres plus in height, as I said, very Sci-Fi orientated.

On the surface both story arcs at first glance seem to be rather simplistic but that’s not the case. Plot wise, at the very start of The Tourist we are thrown into meeting the prisoner from the 24th century and it takes a long time in the book before we are finally told who they actually are. The prisoner story arc after the prisoner has been released focuses mainly on the journey undertaken from the prison complex to the area where the people they need to find are supposed to be, until they reach the destination and the search begins. During the journey not much happens apart from the prisoner and the accompanying character occasionally talking and the prisoner remembering things from their past. Out of the two, it’s the more simple of the two story arcs. In the 21st century, we follow Spens the travel rep trying to find the missing client though as the storyline progresses goings on in the 21st start to get very convoluted involving extemps, tonin (a 24th century drug) native groups, escalating violence against the tourists, a murder and more.

As the story builds to its conclusion, we get the inevitable merging of the two time-lines for the ending which to me felt rushed and left a lot to be desired. When I read the final page the book just finished and I admit that I sort of thought, oh, is that it, no satisfying conclusion in this book peeps, where was the payoff to the events that took place during the book?

The writing itself apart from the confusing nature of the book isn’t bad and you can tell in places that Dickinson is a talented writer, with a good style and flow. He manages to create an interesting set of different well-developed characters each with their own unique personalities though sadly he doesn’t go as deep as he could with some of their back stories. The dynamics and relationships involved between the main characters, smaller secondary characters, 24th century tourists and the 21st century natives are well detailed to.

Dickinson has put a lot of effort into his story to, it’s very complex with a great concept and is an original idea however his flawed execution is what ultimately lets him and his book down.

I really wanted to like The Tourist, the idea of it really intrigued me and I was looking forward to reading it. At times it really did draw me in and I thought I was going to be in for an engrossing read but at others it left me confused and wondering what was going on.
It has to be wrote that I’m a fantasy fan and as such I’m used to complex plots with various threads and myriad characters so I’m not easily lost when reading.

I didn’t love or hate this book, it actually left me feeling rather ambivalent towards it. I wouldn’t read it again but at the same time I don’t feel like I wasted my time reading it either. However, I do feel that for most this is going to be a love it or hate it book and will divide readers.

I read somewhere that The Tourist is described as being I Am Pilgrim meets Station Eleven. I haven’t read I Am Pilgrim so can’t comment on any similarities to that book but, I have read Station Eleven and I really couldn’t see even any vague similarities between the two books.

Sadly for me, after finishing The Tourist I can’t personally recommend it. However, that’s my opinion and I would say that it’s a book you really need to read for yourself to see what your view on it is.

Purchase links:

Amazon UK  /  Amazon US  /  Book Depository

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27 thoughts on “The Tourist Book Review

    1. My copy was a surprise to. I’ve seen a couple of decent reviews on Goodreads but overall the reviews all seem to be very unfavourable, a shame really as even though the book was a surprise when it arrived, I thought the premise sounded great and looked forward to reading it, a shame it ended up being a let down.


  1. Yes… I did feel like I was getting a massive info dump there for a second with all the characters and happenings and time travel.. however, the story arcs do sound interesting… Pity the execution didn’t work out so well for you…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s definitely an interesting premise, just poorly executed.

      It does make you think though about travelling back to time periods, being a fantasy fan I think I’d like to travel back to medieval times and part of me if it was possible would want to travel back and see the dinosaurs, does that make me weird? Oh well.😂


  2. Wow! So I was originally intrigued by the blurb, but as you continued to discuss the actual plot line I found myself rereading. I was getting a tad frustrated. I am glad you addressed the issue with this right off the bat.

    Execution seems to be a real downfall here though. Sneak.. sneaky. Almost had me until I realized this. Thank you for always keeping it honest! I probably would be banging my head off of the wall with this one. Is that mean to say?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol and no, it’s not mean at all, it is unfortunately just how it is with the book, the execution falls flat and the ending was rather abrupt and poor to. It’s not necessarily a “bad” book and there’ll be some people who really like it, I just wasn’t one of them.


  3. I could not give this story more than 2.5 stars either, I felt it was trying too hard to be clever and needlessly confusing. Fortunately I listened to the audio, narrated by the awesome Peter Kenny, or I may have thrown in the towel early.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not a fan of audio books but agree that it was needlessly confusing, I kept thinking of stopping reading it but then it just sort of ended!😂 It’s a shame really as the idea and concept is really good and just let down by the execution.


  4. Noooooo! I was so intrigued by the book! I should have checked the rating first! Too bad things weren’t handled the right way because the potential is definitely there and this could have been a brilliant story I think. I love the mix of two genres and details you mentioned have me wanting to know more, but our world is already so confused as it is, I don’t need more!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was intrigue by it to.😀 It was surprise book post I didn’t ask for but when I read the blurb it really intrigued me and made me really want to read it, unfortunately the premise didn’t live upto the execution, it had a lot of potential to be a great book, I do think it’s definitely a book some people will like and some won’t though.


  5. I really liked the description, bc it sounds like my kind of book…but then I got lost reading about how YOU got lost. So that’s a BAD sign. Someone needs to take this premise and do it right! Bc that is a promising idea! Too bad it would be plagiarism, but it would be worth it to see this idea executed well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks and those were my thoughts, it wasn’t a book I knew anything about but when I received a copy and looked into it, the premise was really intriguing and made me read it sooner rather than later. Unfortunately it was let down by the execution which is a shame as you could tell the author had thought about the story, etc and it had promise only to end up being confusing and weird.

      It wasn’t a book that I liked but I didn’t dislike it either and I’d still be interested in reading the sequel (if there is one) to see if the author has worked out the problems as I think he’d got a good story.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve just read it. I like it and would recommend it to fans of what, these days, might be called hard SF (it’s not fantasy in space). One just has to accept that is the kind of book that feeds the reader little titbits of information and enjoy the experience of piecing them together (something that I rather like; similar to watching the last 2/3 of a film and trying to work out what’s going on, although this is complete). I’d also note that there’s a lot of uncertainty generated by the general reluctance of all the time travellers to give out information relating to other’s futures and a cold war being fought in the 21st century with both sides manipulating information their citizens see. Certainly the author doesn’t answer all the questions that arise but none of the characters know our even care about some of the things the readers will and I’m OK with that. I liked the ending, very 70s to my mind. It reminded me of Wool by Hugh Howie which I also liked.


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