Timeriders (book, Alex Scarrow, 2009)
From SFX 193.
Alex Scarrow/Puffin/401 pages/£6.99
Fast-paced kids adventure wonders what would have happened had Hitler won the war.
Timeriders is thriller writer Alex Scarrow’s first crack at a kids book, and the plot is YA straightforward: three kids from differing parts of history are snatched from their impending deaths and recruited to be time agents, setting to rights wrongs inflicted on the timeline. In their first mission, Hitler gets help from the future and wins WWII.
With its sympathetic characters, varied timelines and quick action Timeriders manages to be a page turner, but only just. Much of it feels plundered from elsewhere, a habit Scarrow cheekily admits to in his prose. The whole set up’s monumentally illogical, its paradoxes and just why in the heck you’d recruit kids to watch over history going unexplained, when both elements could have been turned into smart twists. A further trick is missed in that the times the kids come from are just numbers, there’s no real difference to their social attitudes – Titanic ship’s steward Liam feeling particularly anachronistic.
Naturally, Scarrow’s just using time travel as a vehicle for a ripping yarn, and that’s fair enough, but it’s an approach that lacks any significant depth.
Did you know?
Scarrow’s brother Simon is also a novelist, specialising in historical war adventures in the Imperial Roman and Napoleonic periods.