Stephen Hawkins wrote, ‘
If time travel is possible, where are the tourists from the future?‘. Realistically we know time travel isn’t feasible—yet, but we love to imagine that it is. At the moment my family is watching the final series of The Agents of Shield, which has the main characters going back through time, and with the release of my second Time Guardians book I have been rather obsessed with reading other books in the genre.
This week I am reviewing two Jodi Taylor novels; one perhaps more adult focussed, but one that YA readers will enjoy. The third isn’t strictly a Time Travel book, but it is a unique look at history and time through the eyes of someone who lived through it
Just One Damned Thing After Another – Jodi Taylor
My perfect job growing up would have been travelling back in time, experiencing history and writing about it. Unfortunately we all grow up and realise our dream jobs are not achievable—or are they. What I attracted me to Just One Damn Thing after Another, apart from the title, was historian Madeleine Maxwell (Max) applying for a job at The St. Mary’s institute, not realising they are actually able to take here into the past so she can see history happen. My dream job!
Not only did Jodi Taylor’s concept excite me, but her characters captured my heart. Max is brave and foolhardy, Leon Farrell is forever practical, and Tim Petersen is dashing and just the person you would want to go on mad-cap adventures wth. They, along with a cast of more than interesting characters, carry a great story line back in history, causing chaos and mayhem wherever they go—but, of course, it’s never their fault. While the team is busy recording history, there is another team bent on destroying St. Mary’s at all costs.
I loved the premise, the characters and the story line of this entire series. Some of the content is best for older YA readers, but if you enjoy a good laugh thrown in with a touch of history, then this is the read for you.
Doing Time by Jodi Taylor
When you have mayhem running through the timeline there is always a risk time could collapse, that is unless you have Time Police. In Jodi Taylor’s universe, the Time Police are almost as bad as the bad guys and are St. Mary’s natural enemies. So you can imagine Madeleine Maxwell is not too happy to find her son has joined them as a cadet.
His St.Mary’s origins make him an outcast. Along with two other recruits with equally unusual backgrounds no one else wants—Jane and Luke, Matthew must help form a team to pass his final test before becoming a Time Policeman. Of course they not only have to over-come their own handicaps, but they must also survive a political situation that is bigger than all of them.
This is a fantastic YA coming of age read in a Time Travel environment which has all of the craziness of the St. Mary’s Chronicles, without the adult content. The three main characters are quirky, and I think most people would find at least one they identify with, but my favourite is Jane. Unassuming, she is the quiet achiever no one should underestimate—she just doesn’t know it yet.
I listened to this book on audible and Zara Ramm as narrator really made the story. Perhaps this is one to consider for your next road trip.
How to Stop Time by Matt Haig
So, straight up, this book isn’t about time travel, but it sort of is. Told in the present, Tom Hazard has returned to London years after having left—many, many, years after, and it has brought back memories from his first visit there after his mother had been drowned … as witch.
Moving back to London has awakened his memories of not only losing his nothing, but the one great love of his life who he was forced to abandon when people began to notice he didn’t age. When he left his wife, he also left his daughter, who he has been searching for ever since.
Tom is one of the long lived. So he may look like any man in his forties, but he is more than 400 years old. Helped by the Albatross Society he has been able to blend in by moving from country to country, meeting some of history’s great and good. They have only one rule—don’t fall in love and don’t make connections. This has been easy to follow until now. Back in London he finds himself slowly connecting again with the world, and this places him in danger.
This book was initially difficult to get get into because of the way it jumped between past and present, but I stuck with it and was rewarded with an amazing read. The concept of a person surviving through centuries of history, but not really living after his twenties was a twist that really made me think about the benefits of long life. When Tom begins to awaken he also begins to question whether survival is enough.
Such a great read, but really for the older YA readers.
Some More Time Travel Offerings
If you are looking for some YA Time Travel Reads, why not have a look at some of these. My book the Swagman the first book in The Guardians of Time Series is included.