The Book of Time
In this action-adventure fantasy novel, 14-year-old Sam Faulkner — whose father has just gone mysteriously missing, and not for the first time — discovers a magical stone and book which allow him to travel through time. Assuming that his father is trapped somewhere in history, Sam sets out to try to rescue him, visiting several historical locales in the process and finding himself caught up in personal and historical conflicts.
This book reads primarily as a set-up for the sequel, a trait which I found a bit annoying since it is, after all, the first book of a trilogy. At the end of the book Sam has come no closer to rescuing his father and knows nothing more about his situation than he did near the beginning. Maybe some of the adventures which Sam experiences in Volume I will have important repercussions later in the series, but I kind of doubt it. Of course, the book is primarily a time-travel adventure novel geared toward pre-teen and young teen boys, and in that regard, I should have expected it to be low on plot and high on action. Still, I could have done with a bit of character, plot, and milieu development…or at least one of the above. Prévost doesn’t take much advantage of the remarkable opportunity to create colorful settings for Sam’s time-travel adventures, leaving the whole book feeling a bit dull in spite of the non-stop action. (He also indulges in some cop-out explanations of time-travel and the absence of linguistic difficulties, not to mention a rather blatant deus ex machina effect at the end of the book.)
Morally, the book is also rather vacant of quality. It’s not particularly horrible, but like most action novels, it doesn’t have a whole lot to recommend it, either. The worst trait was probably the positive slant on Sam’s tendency to lie regularly. He lies to get information and to get out of difficult situations — not just when he absolutely has to in order to preserve his or someone else’s life or cover, but pretty much all the time. I know it’s really common in kids’ books to have characters who lie without sufficient cause or consequence, but it still bothers me, since I don’t really think this is a trait that we should be encouraging in young readers…