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Timeriders by Alex Scarrow

The Blurb On The Back:

LIAM O’CONNOR should have died at sea in 1912.

MADDY CARTER should have died on a plane in 2010.

SAL VIKRAM should have died in a fire in 2026.

Yet moments before death someone mysteriously appeared and said, “Take my hand ...”

But Liam, Maddy and Sal aren’t rescued. They are recruited by an agency that no one knows exists, with only one person – to fix broken history. Because time travel is here, and there are those who would go back in time and change the past.

That’s why the TIMERIDERS exist to protect us. To stop time travel from destroying the world ...

Liam O’Connor, Maddy Carter and Sal Vikram should all be dead. Liam should have died when the Titanic sank in 1912, Maddy should have been on a plane that exploded in a terrorist attack sometime in 2010 and Sal should have died in a fire in 2026. Instead an old man met with them minutes before they were scheduled to die and offered them the chance to come with him to start a new life as a TimeRider.

But there’s a catch.

Timeriders exist in a time bubble in New York – specifically 10th and 11th September 2001. They won’t interact with anyone other than themselves and no one will know that they exist. Their work is to preserve history because time travel has been possible since 2029 but in 2051 a law was passed preventing the construction of new machines and so stop people from changing the past.

Helped by Foster and Bob – a computer implanted in a bodybuilder’s body – the team’s first mission is an urgent one. Someone’s gone back in time to change the outcome of World War II and the consequences aren’t pretty. The team has to put history back, or the present will never exist.

A fast-paced science fiction thriller, this is the type of story that will appeal to boys and reluctant readers with plenty of action and gruesomeness.

The characters tend towards caricature, e.g. Liam is Oirish and constantly bewildered by modern references while Sal’s ethnicity is emphasised by adding “jahully” to her dialogue. Maddy is the most interesting character, mainly because as the team’s analyst and leader she comes to learn secrets that the others can’t be told (and which will no doubt form part of later books in the series).

Chapters are very short – frustratingly so at times as it’s an artificial way to maintain tension. Bob is a shout-out to THE TERMINATOR that seems rather dated. The baddies are also two-dimensional and it would have been good to know more about Kramer and his motivation.

However the alternate futures are a lot of fun – particularly the post-nuclear dystopia with mutant zombies and Scarrow packs in some genuine shocks. There’s also some interesting background information that promises to shape up into some good future storylines.

All in all, while it’s not fantastic it is an entertaining read that keeps you turning the page until the end. I’d definitely want to check out the sequel.

The Verdict:

It’s an entertaining, fast-paced science fiction thriller. Don’t expect anything deep in terms of characterisation, but there are some nice background set-ups that promise good things in the future books.

Cross-posted to cool_teen_reads and yalitlovers.

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