“Small changes in the past can make enormous changes in the present…” (4 Stars)
Published in August 2010 by Puffin Books (Penguin)
Source- personal copy
Paperback- 433 pages
I thoroughly enjoyed the first TimeRiders book and genuinely couldn’t wait to read the second in the series- though I did try and hold out for a little while!
These are YA books that are a blend of science-fiction/fantasy and history and have such a great premise: three teenagers are plucked from the throes of death by a mysterious man, known only as Foster, and recruited to join an agency that has the ability to travel back and forth through time in order to ‘fix’ broken events in history. Book one’s theme was based around World War II and what would have happened if the Nazi’s had came to power, and explored a crazed man journeying back through time in order to himself take over the Nazi party.
We also met the three main protagonists in book one: Liam (taken from the Titanic just before it sank), Maddy (taken from mid-air right before a plane crash) and Sal (pulled out of a burning building prior to dying in a fire). My advice would be therefore, to read these books in their intended order; not only is it a who’s who and an insight into their circumstances, but lets face it: it would be a shame to miss out on these books right from the beginning!
Things aren’t exactly going great with the three TimeRiders at the moment: Foster has abandoned them and they are struggling to grow a new body for their Artificial Intelligence, whose body was damaged at the end of book one. Whilst Liam is on a mission in the future, Maddy accidentally opens a time window which maroons him 65 million years in the past. Amidst dangerous man-eating predators and in a terrifying new world, can Liam find his way back to the present… without compromising history?
I think as far as escapist reading goes, these books are now firmly placed in my top three YA reads, along with Harry Potter and Michael Grant’s Gone series. They’re fast paced and the world-building is just amazing; I loved the jungle landscape of 65 million BC depicted in this one, as well as the vivid description of the packs of predators. The books are a bit gory in parts too, so I can see why they have warnings about scenes of violence on the back! In this one there are some uber-violent confrontations with a completely undiscovered (and unique) species of dinosaurs. The altercations with them are quite graphically described, in almost cinematic quality, which I really enjoyed.
I liked the fact that there were a lot more secondary characters in this one to get to know, too- the pack of students who accidentally get stranded with Liam in 65million BC, plus their teacher and a lab technician. The first book was predominantly about Maddy, Liam, Sal and Foster, so it was good to have some other characters this time around. I loved dinosaur nerd Franklyn who saw such a time-travelling opportunity as his own personal visit to Jurassic Park. There is also interference from the US government into the TimeRiders agency this time, which added an interesting dimension to the plot, particularly with the appearance of shadowy agent Cartwright who has his own aspersions to be some kind of Doctor Who and was a great pantomime-esque villain. I am keen to see if the government plays a part in future books in the series and what sort of role they will have if they do.
I think the only disappointment about this book was that there was still nothing really divulged about the agency itself- how and where it was formed and other people working for the agency in different places. I’m on absolute tenterhooks wanting to know more about it- much like Maddy, Sal and Liam in fact!
There was something of a cliff-hanger ending at the end of Day of the Predator too, though it was something I suspected might actually be the case from events suggested in the first book, so I’m pleased I was correct in my assumptions! I’m keen to see how this theme is built upon in book three. Are these again more secrets that only Maddy can know? More importantly, what will happen if the others find out exactly what she has been keeping from them?
Again, I’m going to *try* and spread my reading out a little bit more before I move onto book three of the series, I have some other novels sat waiting on my to be read pile that I am going to force myself to read first. I’m already suspecting it won’t be that easy to resist the lure of The Doomsday Code, though.
Other books by Alex Scarrow: