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TimeRiders by Alex Scarrow
Cover Artist: Photo: Neil Spense
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Walker Books for Young Readers Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780802721723
Date: 31 August 2010 List Price $16.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Blog / Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Three teens are recruited by a special agency just moments before their death. Their mission is to protect the current time line. Liam O'Connor was checking the lower decks of the Titanic, when he discovers that he is trapped. Maddy Carter was on a plane, nervous about flying, when a stranger approaches her. Sal Vikram is young and trapped by a fire. Each is facing death and is offered a chance to escape, but to live they must sacrifice their freedom and limit their choices for the rest of their lives.

In the future, time travel has been made possible, but the risks are recognized. The inventor attempts to put the genie back in the bottle, but we know how well that works. Nations agree to stop all research related to time travel. Unfortunately, once people know it is possible, some will attempt to exploit the possibilities. The agency that recruits the three teens, fears the possibility and has created watchers to track and fix any discrepancies.

Liam is the team member who will do most of the time traveling. Each trip takes a toll, thus limiting how long a person can time travel. This is the one fact that isn't shared with Liam by his handler and mentor Mr. Foster. The first test for the gang is to detect a time shift and then fix history. Everything during the test goes off without a hitch. A synthetic clone named Bob is added to assist and track the events during missions.

The team is based in New York City in bubble that relives a momentous period in 2001. Foster plans to bring them up to speed carefully so that they don't repeat the errors of the last team. Unfortunately there isn't more time to train. Paul Kramer has seen the world deteriorate through overpopulation, poor planning, and wasted resources. Paul travels back to 1941, where he can change the course of the world. His knowledge of time travel makes him sensitive to any plans to counter his plans. Thus Liam and his assistant Bob are thrust into a dire situation long before the team is fully trained.

Time Riders is the first book in a new young adult series. The plot is not new and ground breaking, it is standard time travel. That being said, it is still well written and face paced. There is also a nod to the problems of absolute power and its effect on people. Alex Scarrow handles the basics of time travel intelligently, but in a way that doesn't bog the reader down in details. He stays consistent in his rules throughout. Although dissimilar in plot, the writing is comparable to Rick Riordan's young adult work.

This novel was originally published in the U.K. The second novel Time Riders: Day of the Predator has already released in the U.K. The third novel in the series is in progress as well. Based on the opening novel, there is a long and fun filled future developing. Fans of Scarrow's writing may also want to take a look at his thriller Afterlight.

The author also maintains a website dedicated to this new series. The website includes some educational materials for teachers. In addition, Alex Scarrow maintains a forum with his brother Simon where fans can see information related to other series, upcoming books, or just ask questions of the authors. The Scarrow brothers are very good at keeping up with the forum.

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