It’s hard to find a good time travelling series that sends your mind into a downward spiral. Sometimes you can get so caught up with the nitty-gritty scientific and logical explanations that it can over shadow the fun of the story. And while TimeRiders by Alex Scarrow won’t win any prizes for the best thought out mechanics for a time-travelling series, he certainly gives a compelling start. The series spans nine books and, while I take issue with some of the later books, the first book was certainly a huge part of my early teen days.
The plot of TimeRiders revolves around a group of three main protagonists; Liam, Sal and Maddy are all recruited from a time-travelling organisation known as ‘The Agency’. Foster, a mysterious spokesperson for The Agency, saves each of them from their respective timelines right before death and takes them back to a strange base located under the Williamsburg Bridge in New York City.
The base is stuck in an endless time-loop of the tenth
and eleventh of September 2001. And that date has been chosen for an obviously specific reason. Sal, one of the new recruits, is trained to spot time waves (that is, discreet or major alterations of the timeline). To do that, she must repeatedly watch the horrific events of the eleventh of September and wait for any changes in the events.
Liam, Sal and Maddy are tasked with saving the world’s timelines from those in the future who wish to alter it. The first book in the series, simply named Time Riders, focuses on Nazi Germany. The team must stop a man from the future from altering history so that the Allied Forces lost the war and put the world under the rule of the Third Reich.
Part of what makes the books so enjoyable is the characters. Each of them are tasked with individual roles, with various pasts in interesting points of history.
Maddy Carter is the team leader and the most relatable character, since she comes from the “present” day, of 2010. She was saved by Foster from a terrorist attack. She appears to be privy to the most knowledge given to her by Foster, with an interesting secret keeping the two of them bonded.
Liam O’Connor is the team’s field agent, and travels to the various timelines along with a genetically engineered unit, named Bob. He was saved from the Titanic, moments before it sunk. Liam probably acts like most of us placed in his situation. He is most affected, since he time-travels more frequently than the others and this causes him to age far faster than normal.
Sal Vikram is responsible for noticing the slightest of shifts caused by time waves that might mean someone is altering with time. She was saved from a collapsing skyscraper in the future of 2026.
Along with the main three in the first book, the support unit called Bob makes for some great comic-relief. He also contributes to some touching moments between himself and Liam throughout their adventures. It is their relationship which the best developed in the book. The interactions of all the characters make for some compelling story-telling, which can be light-hearted when it has to be. Their friendships are perfectly balanced. It is easy to become invested in their insane family-like unit as they adjust to their new life together.
Time-Travel, A Terrifying Creation
This book is perfect for lovers of history. The plot sees no bounds with regards to where it will travel to. To witness events through the perspectives of Liam, Maddy and Sal, who have their own unique perspectives from their own times, ensures that no stone is left unturned.
Admittedly, I have not finished the entire book series, stopping at around book four. Purely because of a plot-twist which annoyed me hugely. Looking back on it now, I should not have been so hasty in putting the series down.
Their adventures are so exciting with great attention to historical detail. The author, Alex Scarrow is best known for writing in the “alternative history” genres.
TimeRiders won’t blow minds, but it will certainly keep you entertained long enough to see the series through. Writing this Re-Read, I’m tempted to go back and finish the series. I recommend you should pick up the series. That is, if you’re not yet ready to turn your back on Young Adult novels just yet!