As a pebble tossed in a river makes ripples of ever-widening circles, so changing an event in the past via time travel has far-reaching implications, according to Time Riders, by Alex Scarrow, (2010, 405 pages). It might even create a New York City populated by ghoulish mutated humans that survive by eating their own kind.
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 purpose—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…
I loved how Scarrow had Foster, a seasoned time traveler from the distant future when time travel is possible, gather together a young person from the past, one from the relative present, and a one from the future to form a team. They each have unique perspectives based on the era from which they’ve come. Given the length 0f the book, though, I think the characters’ personalities could have been better developed. There is an additional critical member of the team, Bob. Bob’s a “meat robot”. He appears basically human but has super human strength. I think the author got Bob’s newly come to life voice just right. It was fun reading how the other team members tried to teach him to talk more like a regular dude.
The team’s mission is huge. Another time traveler from the distant future has gone back in time and teamed up with Hitler to win WW II. This action has altered the world from the one we know, producing a post-apocolyptic wasteland. In order to fix the world, the team has to go back and stop the time traveler before he gets to Hitler. The team’s home base is New York City and it was fun to read how the city changed, depending upon which time ripple was affecting it at the time.
The chapters are short, some only a couple pages. This is a plus in my book( 🙂 ) because I believe it contributes greatly to its readability. The chapters alternate in time and locale, but the plot is pretty easy to follow. Despite being hooked by the premise, I’ll admit for most of the book I wasn’t loving it because of its dreary tone. I prefer books with more humor and/or uplifting moments. But the masterly plot unfolds to build such a fantastic level of suspense, that by the end of the story I was on the edge of my seat. There are plenty of gunfights in Time Riders, but nothing terribly graphic. The aspect of the book I found most disturbing was the “mutant” people that roamed NYC for part of the book.
…a creature emerged several dozen yards in front of her. It stopped and stared at her with deep, dark. soulless eyes set in a pallid ash grey bald head… It stared at her motionless. Its mouth finally opened to reveal bloody gums and one or two ragged teeth. And it screamed.
I liked imagining these very creepy creatures, but this is also what might most make me hesitate to suggest this to younger readers. Amazon.com recommends it for kids age 12 and up. Time Riders is the first in a series of eight books, with the eighth due to come out soon.