Sunday, May 31, 2015

Book Review: Time Snatchers

Back again! This time I will be reviewing Time Snatchers by Richard Ungar, a sci-fi book aimed at middle schoolers. Like many of the books I've read lately, this was a book that caught my eye at my library. To be quite honest, I was searching for a book for a patron in the jfiction section and noticed this book while searching.  I eventually checked it out because it sounded so interesting.

Caleb is living in the year 2061, where he works as a time snatcher. His boss is a man he names, "Uncle." This man took him and all the other orphaned young kids that also work for the organization in as children and took care of them. Caleb mentioned that when he was younger, Uncle was very kind to him but as the kids grew, he became much more harsh and now deals terrible punishments to those that disappoint or cross him. Anyways, under Uncle's orders, Caleb and his teammate Abbie time travel to various different times in history in order to steal precious artifacts and replace them with carefully created fakes. Despite being the best snatcher, not all of Caleb's successful snatches are counted to his total as Frank, another member of the organization, likes to steal his snatches. Often times, Frank will lie and tell Uncle that Caleb would not have been able to complete the snatch had it not been for his interference. Caleb doesn't think much of it until Uncle reveals that he wants to expand the organization, training new recruits and he isn't sure whether he wants Frank or Caleb to lead the new organization with him. However, while Caleb doesn't want Frank to lead, he also doesn't want to lead himself because it turns out that the kids that Uncle is using for his new organization are being snatched from their parents from across different cultures and different time periods in history!

I will admit that this story has somewhat of a slow start. There is a lot of detail that the author tries to get out of the way before he really starts to develop the plot. I wouldn't have minded so much if it weren't for how awkwardly some of these explanations are placed. There will be a paragraph or two that explain all about how time travel works as if Caleb is speaking directly to you and then it goes back to the storyline. There was a lot of "telling" in the first 50 pages or so instead of "showing." Many times, Caleb would also conveniently explain why something worked the way it did although it wasn't truly necessary. These instances in the book irked me because while I liked the information that was been given, I didn't like the way it was presented.

Nevertheless, the world building was truly spectacular. In Caleb's world, China and the United States are the two great super powers of the world and have forged a mutually beneficial friendship. In fact, New York has been renamed as "New Beijing" for a short period of time in order for the U.S. to showcase how much they appreciate their new ally and friend (apparently Beijing had to do the same, renaming their city the Chinese equivalent of "The Big Apple" or something like that). Uncle tests them on a new Chinese word everyday at dinner in order for them to learn more and of course, for the benefit of the organization's customers. This futuristic world was presented in a very believable manner, even explaining how the organization is camouflaged by a supercomputer so that they're not visible to the public eye.

I really liked the character development that Caleb underwent. He became a much stronger person and more sure of himself as the story progressed. He stopped caring about seemingly trivial things and really focused on the type of person he wanted to become. I really liked that the snatchers thought to study speech patterns and dress of the time in history that they were traveling to in order to make sure they didn't stand out. The "time freeze" they undergo each time they time travel was a nice detail as well, as there are bound to be negative side effects to time travel.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It did take some time for me to really get into it, but once the action started it was quite fast paced. A lot was jammed into this one volume but it really felt like a whole story. The ending is super awesome. I for one, quite liked it, as it leaves it open for a sequel (which does exist! It's called Time Trapped) but this volume can also work as a stand-alone book as well~!

Rating: ★.5 stars 

No comments:

Post a Comment