A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this fast-paced adventure takes the idea of time traveling to a different level, and is a hard book to put down. The first of four books (with more to follow), it centers on three time-riding agents whose mission is to save the world from the interference of other time-traveling manipulators. It does contain quite a bit of violence, and the three protagonists are endangered by evil characters and cannibalistic mutants. But overall, good triumphs over evil and the three protagonists grapple with some important issues and hard choices. The Time Rider website also offers interactive missions to play.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Three teens are plucked from the edge of death and given the choice to become time riders, whose mission is to move back and forth in time, protecting the world from potential alterations by other time travelers. Liam was about to go down with the Titanic in 1912, Maddy was on an airplane that was about to be blown-up by a terrorist's bomb in 2010, and Sal was caught in a fire in Mumbai in 2026. Based on the premise that meddling with time can have disastrous results, their job is to keep a look out, find meddlers, and make sure that true history remains unchanged. Using a time bubble centered on the 9/11 attacks as their headquarters, they hide their identity as agents, and under the tutelage of an older time rider and Bob the robot, they begin an adventure that includes war, Nazis, carnage of all sorts, missed rendezvous, a doomsday machine, cannibalistic mutants, and some very hard choices.
Is it any good?
This book's idea is creative, the writing engaging, the adventures fast-paced, and the main characters seem like people you might like to know. On the other hand, some characters, like Kramer and his neo-Nazis, seem like comic book heroes, and there is more violence than necessary.
Many sci-fi time-traveling books deal with the idea that messing with time is a bad idea that usually makes things worse than they are. This book takes that one step further by creating an agency of time riders to make sure that does not happen.
In spite of all the high-tech talk about why things work and why they should be monitored, the story seems grounded in reality, and a complicated idea comes across clearly. Subheadings that give the time and place help the reader track the story threads, and intense moments sprinkled with philosophy and a bit of humor make this a very enjoyable and readable book. Most readers, especially sci-fi enthusiasts, will look forward to the other books in this series: Time Riders: Day of the Predators, Time Riders: The Doomsday Code, and Time Riders: The Eternal War. They may also enjoy the interactive missions offered on the Time Rider website.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the mission of the time riders. Do you think it would be better to leave history alone, or would you try to change it to avoid disaster? If you were part of an agency that monitored time travel and history, which role would you take? Would you be an observer, analyst or operative? Do you think there is a way to change history without causing a tidal wave of destruction?
The time riders have to live in New York City in a time bubble that spans 48 hours from Sept. 10 through 11, 2001. What is the purpose of the time bubble, and why are they situated then and there? How does it help them discover their mission? How does Maddy react to using 9/11 as the time bubble? Do you think it is a good choice? How do you think other readers might feel about it?
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