“It gives me a headache…but I think I’m beginning to get the hang of it now.” (4.5 stars)
Source- Personal Copy
Published by Puffin
Paperback edition- 438 pages
It seems only fitting that the 100th blog post (wow!) on Mygoodbookshelf should be a review of a novel in a series that I enjoy so much. I was admittedly pretty late to the party when it came to beginning the TimeRiders series, but every story that I have read so far I have really enjoyed and needless to say, The Eternal War proved to be no exception. In terms of subject matter, it may actually be my favourite book to date. This is a smart YA time travel series and is really addictive reading- it also isn’t just for kids to savour, believe me!
So here’s the thing: the concept of time travel blatantly confuses me at times- whether in TV shows or in books, you name it. It always has done. All that talk of alternate dimensions and whatnot sometimes means I really have to concentrate on what I’m reading about. How can certain characters go backwards in time and interact with a younger version of themselves for example, without impacting on their older future self and yet still have their older future self exist at the same time? It makes my head spin just thinking about it. The fact that it’s science fiction makes no difference and sometimes I just have to accept IT IS ONLY A STORY and go along for the ride. These books are certainly one heck of a ride- full of adventure, tension and drama, not to mention some excellent world-building.
Liam, Maddy and Sal are three kids rescued from the brink of death and given a second chance. Recruited to work for a mysterious agency, they become the TimeRiders, their sole purpose to prevent time travel destroying history as we know it. After previous brushes with Nazi’s, dinosaurs and Richard the Lionheart, they now face their gravest challenge yet: what if Abraham Lincoln had never been president and the American Civil War had never ended?
It’s 2001 New York and after a time ripple changes history, the TimeRiders find themselves in an America embroiled in an eternal war. Abraham Lincoln is also pulled into the present and is horrified to see the destroyed wasteland that his country has become. Can the TimeRiders go back and fix history before an even worse time wave arrives?
The pace of this story is fast, which is all the more surprising that the level of detail remains so strong throughout. I love the small details and descriptions of the sights and settings and how vivid they become. The characters are very well-written (possibly with the exception of Sal who still remains quite weak) and I really enjoyed how Abraham Lincoln was portrayed here- a loud mouthed grump. He added some much needed humour into what was actually a pretty dark storyline. The characters faced a lot of peril and he lifted it, his sourness much welcome when there was quite a lot of focus on war and death.
There were some brilliant concepts introduced into this book: a lot of exploration of new technologies, eugenics (fascinating stuff) and elements of steam punk fantasy- sky ships and the like and genetically created human warriors. I found those aspects really riveting and it made me want to read on. There were poignant moments too, which kept it all from being completely adventure-based.
I suppose my only complaint with this book is that a few little cryptic hints were dropped about certain characters and their backgrounds, but then not really picked up on. I’m trying to keep this a spoiler-free review so I won’t belabour the point, but I did find it frustrating that these weren’t expanded upon. I’m hoping these are explored to their full potential in book five.
As ever, this book had a heck of a cliff-hanger ending, so I can’t wait to read book five. I’m curious to learn more about Sal (the one character who still remains something of a mystery) and about the little titbits of information that have been divulged.
You don’t have to read the TimeRiders books in their intended order either, though it seems a shame not to, particularly as some earlier plot threads are alluded to in these later books, as well as a mention of other prominent characters from the series. Why miss out?!
Other books in the TimeRiders series: