Maddy, Liam and Sal are teenagers recruited from the past, present and future into a secret organisation with one aim: to 'clean up' the mess made by time travellers. Saved by the mysterious Foster shortly before they were each meant to die, they'll never be missed from their former lives. They now live at a base in New York City that's on a perpetual time loop, so for them it's always September 10th and 11th, 2001. Except, that is, when they're time travelling.
I didn't read the first TimeRiders book before picking up this one, but I'm happy to report that wasn't a problem at all. Alex Scarrow throws just the right amount of backstory into the mix to make sure that readers have all the information they need to follow the action. And when I say action, I mean it! We're talking fast-paced, twisty storytelling full of mindbendy time travel awesomeness. This time round, timerider Liam and support unit Becks (think mega-strong human girl with the mind of a supercomputer) find themselves accidentally propelled to approximately 65 million years B.C. Which means: d-i-n-o-s-a-u-r-s. But while we all know how evolution treated the dinosaurs in our history, the mere presence of Liam and Becks sets a chilling alternative timeline in motion - and it's down to the timeriders to fix it.
Day of The Predator is definitely the kind of book that'll appeal to both male and female readers, thanks to a brilliant cast of characters you'll soon be thinking of as old friends. In this instalment I favoured Liam, an Irish shiphand recruited minutes before he should've died on the Titanic. He's a happy-go-lucky type who takes his time-travelling adventures in his stride. American Maddy is the one running things back at the base, and she sometimes seems to have the weight of the world on her shoulders. Then there's Sal, who we don't get to know as well here, but hopefully she'll feature a little more in other instalments.
In TimeRiders, it's as though author Alex Scarrow is letting us in on a part of our world we never knew existed - it's incredibly convincing, and so exciting that at times I almost wished that it were true. But it's also a dangerous world, where the tiniest intervention from time travellers can have devastating effects on the world's history. Amidst all the excitement, there are a few poignant moments too. Maddy and Liam and Sal may have narrowly escaped death, but they've had to leave their old lives - and their families -behind. Plus, only Maddy knows about the most dangerous side effect of time travel... and she's not sure whether she should tell Liam about it. It's clear to see that this series has some huge storylines in store for its characters, and for us.
Day of the Predator isn't just the kind of book you should pick up: it's the kind of book you should take a running jump into. One for teens and adult readers alike, it's a tasty blend of fantasy, sci-fi and history. I'd recommend TimeRiders to male or female readers looking for a gripping, non-slushy new series to get hooked on.
Out: August 5th 2010, UK
A big thanks to Puffin for providing a review copy of this book.