This book has two things that usually make me stop reading: short chapters and Nazis. They are serious pet peeves of mine because a) I am capable of an attention span greater than 5 minutes, thank you very much, and b) haven't you heard the war is friggin' over???
And yet... TimeRiders was awesome. Awesome in that kind of action-packed, bad-ass, yes-we-may-kill-off-your-favourite-character sort of way. This book felt like a blockbuster movie – but with a superior script. Alex Scarrow writes action scenes with handful of main characters and ten dozen extras zooming across the page without breaking a sweat – a talent I seriously admire.
Scarrow also created some fantastic villains. I read an interview of his where he described his desire to make 3D characters who – one could argue – were merely misguided. He lived up to his claim in TimeRiders, writing a villain with pure intentions that became twisted by circumstance and insanity. A villain who is trying to save the world, just in a somewhat psychopathic way. It is a welcome relief from the typical twirling-moustache villain!
However, I found the main characters a bit flat. Although perfectly enjoyable, they were rather secondary to the plot. So much crap happened to them, but there is very little emotional payoff. I also found a couple of the time-travel sequences rather... convenient. The sequences that took place over two times – but appeared in the book simultaneously – felt somewhat contrived. Just one of the many dangers of time-travel, I guess!
Bottom line? TimeRiders is a fun, action-packed, addictive book. Will likely appeal to teenage boys as well as girls – just don’t expect too much emotional depth. I think Scarrow is saving it all for the sequel.