‘TimeRiders’ by Alex Scarrow

This as an alright book with a good enough idea. The story is just a bit all over the place and parts of it get boring. It tells you about history, what the future could be and what we might not know. It can get a bit weird at times.   It shows what humanity could make of itself and become. I found parts of this book full of interesting ideas; other bits could have been left out. I recommend it to older readers because of the violent and gory parts (if it was a film it might be over 18s!).

The basics of the storyline (and it’s messed up and hard to explain) are that in 2044 a time machine has been invented. It’s not used now. It’s banned and time travel is illegal because of catastrophic effects to the future it causes. It has three main characters. A teenage Liam O’Connor from 1912, Maddy Carter from 2010 and Sal Vikram from 2026. Moments before their deaths, they are all saved by a man called Foster. They have all been brought to 2001, to a small office, a place underneath an archway of the Williamsburg Bridge in New York City. It’s called the Agency. The Agency stops people from destroying the world with time travel. It tries to maintain time lines.

The Agency is in a two day ‘time bubble’ which keeps repeating on the 10th and 11th of September. The Agency also works with things called support units which are robots who are incredibly human-like. The original robot is called Bob and they use him all the time.

They are all assigned certain roles by Foster. Liam is the field agent who goes with Bob through time, Maddy is the team leader and Sal is the observer who notices shifts in time (changes in time). For a training exercise, Foster takes Liam and Bob into the past to change something and the girls, Maddy and Sal, have to figure out what it was. The Boys go back to 22nd of November 1963 in Dallas, Texas, where they stop Lee Harvey Oswald from killing John F. Kennedy. The girls figure out what it was that was changed. They tell the boys when they come back and then the boys go back again to restore the time.

Not long after, the time line is altered by a Dr Paul Krammer and a group of men lead by Karl Hass. They have travelled from 2066 to Germany on April 15th 1941. They did it using the first time machine made by a guy called Roald Waldstein. They launch an attack on Hitler’s base. Once inside, they strike a deal with Hitler and help him win the war using knowledge and technology from the future. When the war is over, Krammer takes over from Hitler.

In 2001, Sal notices the time shift and quickly tells the team. Bob and Liam are sent back  to the exact time the Americans surrendered to the German forces, After gathering information, they manage to miss their two time windows to get back. Liam gets transported to a prison camp and Bob decides (instead of going back home with the information) to save him.

The book doesn’t stay with the German storyline. It seeks jumping around. This gets a bit annoying and hard to understand. Like, also in 2001, another time shift happens where New York is turned into a wasteland with little mutant cannibal creatures who roam around in huge packs. This seems to make no sense when you are reading the book.

At this point, the rest of the team are trying to get Liam and Bib back but their time travel generator run out of diesel and they need to get more. They obviously get more. Meanwhile, back in 1941 Germany, Bob has started raiding prison camps to find Liam. Prisoners have joined with him, indirectly starting a small resistance. After six whole months (time in the past isn’t the same as the present), Bob finds Liam and frees him.

This couldn’t happen quick enough, as Krammer has gone insane and built a bomb connected to the time machine he used to get there. It has the power to end humanity. He detonates it a week after its built (Liam and Bob have gotten back to 2001 by now). How are they going to save the world? Liam remembers writing in a guest book when he visited the national history museum while in New York and comes up with the idea of putting a message in it for the team to read in 2001. So he sneaks in with Bob and sets up a bunch of hidden clues to get to the message he’s written in the book.

In 2001, Foster coincidentally (yes, it gets a bit far-fetched, but this is a book about time travel!) remembers the guest book as well and finds the message which has the coordinates for a time window. On the way back, they walk into a trap set by the mutant creatures and Sal is taken and presumably killed, but then Foster assures Maddy that she’ll come back if they restore the time. When they get back, they start charging up the generator for a time window for the set coordinates, but unfortunately the mutant creatures break into the office through weak points.

Luckily (yes, again!), Bob and Liam turn up just in time to save Foster and Maddy. They inform Foster of what happened in the past and they are sent back to the time where Krammer got into Germany and they stop him – they do this pretty violently.

Back in 2001, when the timeline has been restored, Sal appears back with no memory of what happened and Foster bids them farewell because he is dying and he just walks out of the time bubble. There are lots of bits like this which aren’t really explained.

Overall, this is an exciting book with an ok storyline but it gets boring at times. It is trying to fit too much in. It’s overly complicated and some bits are coincidental to the point of being silly. This could have been a better book.

Review by 12 year old Finn Buck.

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