2.5 out of 5 Stars
We were looking for some new “fantasy” books to read and we came across “The Time Travelers” by Linda Buckley-Archer. This is part of the Gideon Trioloy and was marketed as perfect for “kids who love Harry Potter”. We love Harry Potter, but I can’t honestly say the same about this book.
I love historical fiction and the fact that this is historical fiction for kids was really appealing to me. Especially since we were getting ready to do a trip to England to visit my inlaws and I thought it would be fun to have a little history with a twist.
The story starts out in modern times where Peter Schock is dealing with his mom living and working most of the year in America while he and his dad live in London. His dad works all of the time and is more concerned with his job than making time for his son. Peter’s birthday is coming up and his dad promises to spend the day with him but cancels at the last minute due to an unforeseen work issue. This naturally really upsets Peter and he screams at his father that he “hates him”. Peter and his au pair decide to go out to the country to visit a family she used to work for and there are several kids for Peter to hang out with. The father of the family is a scientist and Peter is interested in his studies and also is interested in the farm and the animals. Peter ends up “befriending” a girl called Kate Dyer who is very close in age to him and the two go with her dad and the family dog to his laboratory to see his experiments. Something goes wrong with the dog and the kids get caught up in a machine in another lab, which sends them back in time to 1763. This is quite a shock for them both and they quickly have to figure out what to do and how to survive.
There are rich families who befriend them, robbers on the trail to London, evil doers, hostage situations, meeting royalty, and family in another time trying to bring the kids back. It is a lot of back and forth and when NASA gets involved the story starts feels like a bit of a jumble.
My biggest issues with the book were:
- All in all, I was not a fan of the writing style. It felt very juvenile to me, and while I understand these are books for kids 9-13 years old I read a lot of mid-level and young adult books and this just felt really young to me. I always love a mid-level or young adult novel that challenges kids with words and ideas and I didn’t feel like this book accomplishes that at all.
- There is one person who dies in the book but it isn’t very thrilling or gory. It left me feeling so ‘blah’ frankly. Even the characters in the book weren’t overly upset about the death.
- I wasn’t a big fan of the girls always having or expecting to be saved either. Especially as she was coming from modern times and was quite head strong.
- This was a long book and I struggled getting through it, leaving me to think the main challenge for kids will be getting through all 404 pages also.
- The idea of the story is a good one, but the characters were super whiny and annoying. One was always mad at the other and it was just too much for me on top of the writing.
One thing I really did like were the descriptions of how London was in the 1700s and the every day life stuff was very good. There were a few problem solving things that were kind of fun, but highly unlikely to ever have come to fruition, so we have to just chalk that up to using our imaginations and thinking it might be possible.
I honestly don’t really feel like I want to read the rest of the series due to the things above and this book leaves you will a pretty significant cliff hanger. I will have to have a look though and see what I think. I might be surprised by the characters and what they manage to accomplish.
Disclaimer: As I read this on my own, I will update this with his opinions if he decides to read this one.