TimeRiders – by Alex Scarrow
So, someday I plan to write a book involving time travel that makes sense and actually works. Probably, I will end up discovering that it’s really hard and that’s why it’s so rare, but I get so frustrated with all of the flaws in time travel books. Don’t get me wrong, TimeRiders was lots of fun and I absolutely enjoyed it, but the time travel mechanics just made less and less sense as time went on.
Liam is on board the sinking Titanic, just moments from death, when a strange man named Foster appears and offers him a way out: become a Time Rider and live outside of time, stopping errant time travelers from messing with history. Maddy and Sal are facing similar situations in different time periods. The three teens are brought together to become a team, and soon enough they are faced with a serious mission – someone has changed the outcome of World War II and the present day is radically different. They will have to work together to figure out where and when the change happened and find a way to stop it.
Like I said, this is all kinds of fun, and I really like the idea of taking people out of their lives moments before their deaths, particularly in situations where their bodies are unlikely to be missed, so you’re not really interfering with history. That’s great, but after that…. There are lots of little things, most of which I can get past, and I can’t go into much detail without spoiling anything, but my biggest issue comes during a training session when Foster takes Liam to a particular spot in history to change a major event so that the girls back in the future can practice pinpointing the moment of timeline disruption. Foster says he likes to use this spot for training because this particular event course-corrects itself automatically. So, why would there be any visible change in the future if history corrects itself? Also, if he uses it all the time for training, why aren’t there hordes of time travelers there at once, all trying to accomplish the same task? The whole scenario just really doesn’t work for me.
I do have one more non-time-travel-related issue to bring up though, and that is the lack of impact leaving their old lives behind seems to have on the three teens. The book largely skims over their weeks spent in training, which is fine, but there’s not really any discussion of any of them feeling homesick or sad because they’ve had to leave their families and friends, and that bothers me. I never felt completely in touch with the characters, and this might be one of the reasons why. They were all likeable enough, but there was just something missing and I think it would have helped a lot to have them show some grief.