Action packed and atmospheric (4 stars)
Source- Personal Copy
Published by Puffin- February 2011
Paperback edition-448 pages
After really enjoying books one and two in the TimeRiders series, I was a bit hesitant about reading the third novel when I saw that it had a focus on the middle ages. I sometimes struggle with books set during the crusades, finding them a bit dry or tedious- or at least I have done in the past. I should have known better than to judge so quickly- this is TimeRiders after all! The Doomsday Code was another fun, pacey read in a series that I am really growing to love.
To offer some background to date, the TimeRiders series is a winning combination of science-fiction and history, showing the potential of what can happen when history as we know it, is interfered with. We have three teenagers, who were themselves taken from the throes of death to become the TimeRiders, working for a mysterious agency that nobody knows exists, purely to stop people trying to tamper with time and destroy history. Book one saw Liam, Maddy and Sal plucked from impending doom and facing down a maniac who decides to travel back to Nazi Germany and create his own outcome for the ending of WWII. Book two saw Liam accidentally trapped in the times of the dinosaurs. Fun sounding books, huh?
The Doomsday Code begins in 1993 and sees a British computer hacker uncover his name in a coded manuscript that is almost one thousand years old. How did the hackers name get in there, and for what purpose? In untangling the mystery, Liam, Maddy and Sal discover that the origins of the document lie in Sherwood Forest in 1193. When a strange hooded man appears interested in the same thing however, they must contemplate what threat this cryptic link poses for the future…
This was another atmospheric read with some really great ideas and a lot of action. I loved the spin it provided on the whole ‘Robin Hood’ legend too, as well as Richard the Lionheart. The intricacies of time travel still really confuse me, but no matter, I just go along for the journey, a journey that I’m really enjoying so far.
Character-wise, the TimeRiders books have a lot of depth and I like getting to know more about the protagonists as the stories progress. My favourite characters are definitely Bob and Becks- uber-strong AI’s who are both insistent on defending TimeRider Liam to the death, touchingly so in some cases. As the series progresses they are slowly picking up more human characteristics and foibles too, which is entertaining to read about. Becks in particular showed a great deal of insight in this book.
These stories are pretty violent and gory on occaision as well; there are severed arms and sword fights galore in this one! It doesn’t bother me personally, but for YA books I do feel the need to offer a bit of caution: they can be a bit gruesome at times. If I had a young child I’m not so sure if I would want them picking these up without me flicking through the content and assessing them first- despite the warning on the back we all know how kids can be!
I suppose the only aspects of this book that I didn’t enjoy quite so much was the fact that this book was yet another Liam and Maddy-centric read. I want to know more about Sal! She feels a bit like she is becoming sidelined as a character, which is a shame. Some little facets about her and the future in which she was taken from have been divulged over the last couple of books and I personally feel the need to know more about her. I don’t feel as emotionally connected to her as I do to Liam or Maddy yet.
The Doomsday Code was nonetheless an excellent addition to a YA series that is quickly provoking more questions than answers for me as a reader. Sigh. I love the potential that these stories have; they do an excellent job in not only imparting historical information about real events, but also explore what can happen if history as ‘we’ know it is turned on its head. As far as time travel stories go, these are definitely some of my favourite books to date. My advice would be to read these novels in their intended order too, purely as it would be a shame to miss anything out. This book ends on something of a cliff-hanger too, which has definitely whetted my appetite to read book four.
Other books by Alex Scarrow: