Timeless: Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Timeless: Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic Book Poster Image
Fab art and cool new world as time periods collide.

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Historical time periods are melded together after something called a Time Collision. We see traditional dress and customs of the Victorian era and the near-present and dinosaurs on land and in the ocean -- many types of dinosaurs named and illustrated. A brief mention of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the U.S. Civil War. A whole lot of tinkering and problem-solving to run cities and technology without electricity, and talk about why electricity won't work anymore -- wonky magnetics at the poles after the Time Collision. Also, the use of sextants and an astrolabe for map making and the use of depth sound over sonar and radar. Some real history about the Sears Tower and the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.

Positive Messages

A call for peace over warfare and examples of how developing the best weapons and being the strongest force don't make the world more peaceful. Building a better quality of life for people and contributing to their happiness both help build peace. The team motto of the captain of the John Curtis is that we shall live and die by each other's actions. A jab at the wastefulness of the Mid-Timers (us) before the Time Collision and how important it is to preserve resources.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Diego is a teen who wants to do things his own way. This is an asset when he's tinkering with machinery and coming up with creative fixes, potentially saving lives. It's a problem when he needs to take direction from others: He disobeys family and the captain more than once and gets in trouble for it. Characters are diverse: Diego is half-Filipino and his father speaks Tagalog and Spanish. His fellow Ranger Paige is African-American. A crew member of the John Curtis is a former slave who fought for his freedom in the U.S. Civil War.

Violence

Two loved ones are kidnapped. Two fallen comrades during battle and many other casualties of battles and skirmishes. All kinds of weapons and machines used in battles: war ships, bomber planes, robots, torpedoes, guns mounted on ships, and handguns, swords, fists. Dozens of full-color illustrations highlight the battles. No gore shown, but guns are fired at close range. Dinosaurs attack, a boy is trapped under a falling machine and rescued, a near-drowning at sea. Talk of a character's brother murdered, the loss of children, and the loss of millions of people during the Time Collision and the war that followed.

Sex

A kiss and some flirting and hand-holding.

Language

"S--t" in French: merde. "Bastard," "damn," and "hell" and "bloody hell" are infrequent and the worst it gets in English. One "son of a..." not finished. "Colored" used once in place of "black."

Consumerism

Everything mentioned or worn is retro after the Time Collision. Diego wears an Atari shirt and listens to a Sony Walkman. He fixes up an old Bentley. Paige wears a Clash T-shirt. Diego listens to the Replacements and U2.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The Rangers -- all early teens -- are given a small amount of wine for a toast. Young teens who are set on beating up Diego smoke cigarettes. The captain is found in his cabin drunk on vodka.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Timeless: Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic is the first book written and illustrated by Armand Baltazar, an artist who's worked with major animation studios including Pixar. More than 150 full-color illustrations augment this 600-plus page adventure story. They draw the reader into this world of mixed-up, melded time periods. You'll find giant robots, old steamships, and dinosaurs occupying the same frame. You'll also find weapons new and old in the many battle scenes. Loved ones are kidnapped, and there are two fallen comrades and many other casualties. There's no gore shown in the illustrations or described in the text, but guns are fired at close range. Language stays pretty mild with "bastard" and "bloody hell" being the worst. The young teens are given a small amount of wine for a toast, some baddie teens smoke, and the captain gets drunk in his cabin. Romance doesn't go beyond flirting and one kiss. Characters are diverse. Diego is half-Filipino and his fellow Ranger Paige is black. Despite the Rangers' fighting spirit, there's a call for peace and a discussion about the best path toward peace.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMarie K. May 8, 2018

Fast paced

This book has amazing illustrations and a quick paced. I definitely liked the character traits that were shown of loyalty, perseverance, and creativity. Though... Continue reading

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What's the story?

In TIMELESS: DIEGO AND THE RANGERS OF THE VASTLANTIC, Diego has a disturbing dream right before waking up on his 13th birthday. He gets an amazing floating gravity board from his father, Santiago, the great inventor and engineer of New Chicago, but then he watches time stop, people panic, and his whole world end. Time is already fractured in Diego's world after a Time Collision that melds different times together: dinosaurs roam the earth and people from the Victorian, Mid-Time (now), and the 23rd century intermingle in the cities, but not always peaceably. Things start out better than Diego's dream when he does get a gravity board from his father. But the good day doesn't last. When Diego meets Santiago at the harbor after school to impress a new engineer, George Emerson, with his robot-handling skills, a fighting force kidnaps Santiago and the engineer. And worse, Diego finds out the government won't go after the captives themselves. They're sending pirates instead and paying them with a giant robot Diego made. A little on purpose and a lot by accident, Diego, his friend Petey, George Emerson's daughter, Lucy, and Lucy's friend Paige end up stowing away in a compartment of the robot. When the pirate captain finds them aboard his ship, he's furious. Either they learn some seafaring skills in a week or he's throwing them overboard.

Is it any good?

Major kudos to a new writer who knows how to play to his strengths, with 150 pages of full-color art that more than make up for some hiccups in the adventure storytelling. Armand Baltazar, a seasoned Disney and Pixar illustrator, populates his post-Time Collision world with giant robots and dinosaurs wading through a harbor full of tall sailing ships. His main character, Diego, takes a mini-submarine to school and swoops over a jungle island on a gravity board. Baltazar's art pulls this curious sci-fi world together beautifully, but not seamlessly. He often relies too heavily on the art to move the action scenes and makes the beginner mistake of not carefully orienting the reader in a scene, especially when the action gets high. This makes the big battle finale more confusing than exciting. Also, in the middle of the story, as the main characters prepare for their jobs at sea, the primary objective feels lost. Urgency to rescue the prisoners should have been foremost on their minds, rather than whether Diego can fix a robot or stop making a fool of himself in front of Lucy.

It takes time, patience, and attention to detail to build a world both visually and through the written word. Once this talented artist balances the two skills, this series will soar like one of Diego's cool gravity boards.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the illustrations in Timeless: Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic. How do they add to the world building in the story? How do they convey the action? Would you know what was going on without the illustrations?

  • What would you do without electricity? What would you miss most? How does this world after the Time Collision work without electricity? What inventions is Diego's father responsible for?

  • Are you looking forward to another adventure? What do you think will happen to all the Rangers next?

Book details

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For kids who love adventure and science fiction

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