TimeRiders, by Alex Scarrow, for Timeslip Tuesday

TimeRiders, by Alex Scarrow (Walker, 2010, upper middle grade/YA, 405 pages)

The three of them should have died. Liam was on board the Titanic, Maddie's flight was blown up by terrorists in 2010, and a fire was supposed to claim Sal's life in a future India. But instead, just a the last minute of their lives, they are recruited by a leader of the Time Riders, and given a chance to step outside of time. Their headquarters--a pocket of time in New York City, September 10th and 11th, 2001 (allowing them to watch what happens over and over again). Their mission--to work together to identify the workings of other time travellers, and stop them before history can be unalterably changed. With them will be "Bob," a computer brain inside a human body.

Before they finish their training, they are plunged into a time catastrophe of epic proportions. A deluded genius has gotten control of a time machine, and headed back to Hitler's headquarters. He plans to take over the world himself, and make a better future than the one that actually played out (ours), but his vision is going to lead to an apocalypse. Unless the three teenagers (and Bob) can stop him.

Liam and Bob head off into the past, arriving just as Germany conquers the United States. Back in New York in 2001, civilization has utterly and totally collapsed. All is confusion and disaster, but where there's life, there's hope, even in a New York crawling with cannibalistic mutant humans...

My mind utterly refused to wrap itself around the nested confusions of the time travel portrayed here. As I read, questions kept coming up in my head, distracting me from my reading (why 2001? Why is the TimeRiders organization so poorly organized and staffed? Is there really an organization at all? The guy that recruits them seems to be acting alone--just who the heck is he? Why do things keep noticeably changing in 2001 when the actual changes happened in the past? How many times can time travellers visit JFK's assassination before there's a massive pile up? etc. etc.)

I squashed these doubts as best I could, and was rewarded with sections of interesting story (Liam and Bob's adventures back in the conquered US made for good reading), but I was never able to care all that much (I liked Bob, the not-human character, best). That being said, those who are fans of action and suspense will almost certainly (judging by the positive reviews over at Amazon) like it much more than I did.

The second book in the series, Day of the Predator, involves time travel to the time of the dinosaurs, and I think I'll skip that. However, the third book, The Doomesday Code, takes them back to Sherwood Forest--I might well look for it when it comes out in the US (this is a UK series,with the fifth book coming out there in February, 2012; here's the series website).


  1. I really like the books by his brother, so I really should give him a try.

  2. I was actually able to understand this one, and as much as I normally like time travel, it is sometimes hard. It just depends on so many factors; if it doesn't click, time travel is so hard to understand.

  3. I have been fuzzy minded for the past few days, so quite possibly the fault was (in part) mine!

  4. If you do continue reading the series, I advise to read them in sequence because there is a story arc going here which will span 9 books :)

    The question you ask are actually part of the story arc and having now read the 5th book much is answered :)

    I do feel the series have got better with each book, just thought I pitch in my thoughts to you.


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