Book Review: Insynnium


  • Title: Insynnium
  • Author: Tim Cole
  • Series: None
  • Genre: Sci-Fi, Speculative Fiction, Time-Travel
  • Publishing Date: November 30th, 2018
  • Publishing Co.:
  • Length: 504 pages
  • Format: Kindle, Paperback
  • Acquired: Given free digital copy in exchange for an honest review
  • Amazon LinkInsynnium

Insynnium is the name of a mysterious sleeping pill derived from a tiny seed that only three people know how to germinate. For its users, though, Insynnium stimulates vivid dreams with an emotionally uplifting effect that leaves them with the most restorative rest imaginable. For a population hungry for sleep and a little magic inside their slumbering minds, it is the fix everyone is in search of.
But Insynnium is also a drug with dimensions that seem to know no bounds; a substance that creates its own vortex and pulls the main characters, Duncan, Max, and Rachel apart as they struggle to reassemble what their lives once were and have since become in this dark comedy about the power of secrets and the mutable nature of identity.

Through a twisted chain of events, fate leads Duncan Wisegerber to the heart of Insynnium; a beating core that holds a deep secret guarded by a curse. By outward appearances, Duncan is a magnetic and charismatic drifter who connects easily with others, but inside lurks something dark and mercurial that only he can answer for.
When Max McVista, during a low period in his life, reconnects with old college friend, Duncan Wisegerber, his life takes an unexpected turn. While recovering from alcoholism, Max is tempted to try Insynnium, and falls into an unexplainable coma where he becomes convinced that he has time travelled back in his life for a year. His existence soon becomes a succession of comas and time travel and learning experiences that reach beyond anything he could ever have imagined.

When the beautiful and enchanting, Rachel Redcalf, finds her husband, Max McVista, back on her doorstep after missing for more than a year, she is astonished by his subtle yet incredible transformation. Her love for Max is rekindled, and she begins aligning her psychic abilities with her husband’s puzzling new skills and talents to avert a significant number of accidents and tragedies in and around the city where they live.
A novel that explores the unknown landscapes that exist between people, and how the combination of memories, dreams, and music can lead to unexpected truths; nothing is as it seems in this journey to the center of Insynnium.

From the majestic Canadian prairies and the towering California redwoods to the deserts of Israel and the beaches of Cuba, this shifting third person narrative reveals a tale of three friends connected by love and divided by fear as they piece together their past and present and contemplate their futures under the pervasive tunes of Insynnium.

First Chapter Challenge: 3%

In this first chapter, we meet Max, a man over a century old. Somehow, he began taking this sleep aid called Insynnium, and it allowed him to travel back in time and live out a year of his life without any consequences in the real world. Now, it is a decade later and he still hasn’t told his wife about his time travel exploits.

How does he time travel? Why is he able to do it and others aren’t? What does he do during his travels? This book is definitely off to a great start!

Final Judgment: 3 Stars out of 5

Trigger Warning: Contains adult language, drug abuse, and sexual content

In this mysterious novel by Tim Cole, one of the main characters, Max, is able to time travel after taking a new sleeping aid pill. His time traveling lasts 1 full year and has no consequences in the present time. As we travel through the book and Max’s past, we find that there is an even bigger conspiracy at play here. Duncan and Pierre hide their involvement in the creation of Insynnium, Max’s mom Grace and Duncan hide their relationship, Max and his wife Rachel struggle through rocky times, and new age technology is cropping up in the Middle East. How does all of this connect to Max and Insynnium? Only time will tell!

If they could do it all over again would they live their lives the same way or would they try something new? You know, make the same choices and eat the same food. Would there be more love and less hate and dances with different steps? (Loc 96).

This novel was quite the ride. It was completely unpredictable and I have never come across anything quite like it. One of its quirks is that in every chapter, it highlights one of the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 Singles from that year, with an entire footnote dedicated to a superfluous scene when a character hears that specific song. I have to be honest though, after the first few footnotes, I just skipped right over them, disregarding them completely. It added a bit to the characters and put me in the mood for that specific year (I remember when some of those songs came out!), but it ended up being a bit too much extra effort for me. Cool idea though!

Another quirk (for me at least, being a predominantly American-book reader), was that this book was very Canadian. It takes place mostly in Canada, with a lot of descriptions involving Canadian geography and politics. I definitely enjoyed this aspect of the novel; left me knowing a little bit more about Canada!

There was an aspect of himself that he had discovered; overflowing and miraculous; a human dimension that no longer fit a standard shape or held a conventional mold. He’d passed through the crucible of a bizarre coma and into a new reality, and the journey had taken him from despair to euphoria.

As the world turned, he found himself at its axis. (Loc 994)

The writing style was extremely detailed and contained a lot of eloquent language. I felt as if I was actually in each of the scenes, because they were described so beautifully and concretely. This also came in handy with the characters, as each of them were given rich backgrounds and unique traits stemming from those backgrounds, seen through their various POVs. However, the language ended up being a bit too passive for me, as well as redundant. There was not much active language or even action occurring in the novel, it was more introspective, looking back or looking forward through the eyes of not just one character, but multiple. In this way, I got a feel for different perspectives of the same events, but the perspectives were not different enough to have called for a double, triple, or even occasionally a quadruple retelling of the event. Honestly, I think the book could have been substantially shorter if I hadn’t had to reread the same event over and over again.

Part of I think why it was slightly redundant was that the story came to us readers in piecemeal–which definitely added to the suspense and mystery of the story. At first we get only a glimpse of an event or idea, and then as we move through each chapter, we build upon that event/idea, until finally–20 chapters later–we see the full picture. This was the case with most of the plotline and individual character arcs. So, if you are frustrated with not knowing all the information, just be patient because eventually you’ll understand it all! It just may take you until almost the end of the novel…

Just beyond the kitchen window, she heard the Northern Flicker again, long past its leave date… It occurred to her that maybe its warbling song was giving her a message, a lingering and long overdue reminder to be careful what you ask for, because the wind can blow in unexpected ways. (Loc 5329)

The biggest reason I gave this 3 stars and not more was the fact that I was left wanting with the ending. I felt like the entire novel had been building, building, building to some exciting ending, but it was extremely anticlimactic. It was passive, with no character involvement really, and thus I felt nothing except empty at the end. I wanted emotion! I wanted closure! But alas, we don’t always get what we want. The entire novel just felt like one big anticlimax after another, the ending being the biggest of all. However, the unique idea and unpredictability of the novel, as well as its intricacy and deftness dealing with multiple different character types and detailed plot lines made it worth the read.

Side note: I also don’t understand what the whole point of Rachel having this weird clairvoyance was for. It didn’t seem like it added much to the novel, except for the weird tension between her and Duncan (and regarding that, what was the point of Duncan’s super weird arc???) and it broke the novel from being very realistic (relatively speaking; time travel is not possible, after all).


4 thoughts on “Book Review: Insynnium

Add yours

  1. Wonderful review, Book dragon. 🙂 This seems like a ….. super weird novel with lots of world-building and eloquent writing but to little to show in terms of action. Hopefully, your next read will be great. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

Create your website with
Get started
%d bloggers like this: