137. The Time Travelers (The Gideon Trilogy #1) by Linda Buckley-Archer
Publication: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (September 11, 2007), originally published 2006, Paperback, 416pp / ISBN 1416915265
Genre: YA Sci-fi, Historical Fiction
Read: October 31, 2011
Summary from Amazon:
Gideon Seymour, thief and gentleman, hides from the villainous Tar Man. Suddenly the sky peels away like fabric and from the gaping hole fall two curious-looking children. Peter Schock and Kate Dyer have fallen straight from the twenty-first century, thanks to an experiment with an antigravity machine. Before Gideon and the children have a chance to gather their wits, the Tar Man takes off with the machine — and Peter and Kate’s only chance of getting home. Soon Gideon, Peter, and Kate are swept into a journey through eighteenth-century London and form a bond that, they hope, will stand strong in the face of unfathomable treachery.
For some reason, whenever I think about this book I can only remember the abysmal beginning, which is slow and boring and nearly caused me to get rid of The Time Travelers before I gave it a proper chance. I don’t know what it is about that beginning, but it throws a cloud over the rest of the book, which is MUCH better than that beginning would make it seem.
So, okay. Bad beginning. But after that bad beginning there is much joy to be found, and most of that joy is found in the characters. Though they were occasionally annoying and impotent, I thought that Peter and Kate were excellent kid leads. They had real kid emotions! Including crying! They didn’t have all the answers and they couldn’t fix things all by themselves. They had to connect with people and ask for help, and that’s kind of unusual in a YA action book, don’t you think?
Besides them, there were some really nice secondary characters. One of them, Gideon, is almost another protagonist1, but his contributions to the POV are somewhat sparse so I’m not counting him as one. Still, he plays a vital role in the story and in the two kids’ character developments. I think he might count as a woobie, too, which…is somewhat dangerous to someone who collects woobies like they’re teddy bears or something.
Gideon also acts as a lens through which the kids (and thus the reader) learn about what life was like back in 1763. Basically? It sucked. Basically ALL times sucked before, like 1970 or something. One of the most poignant parts of the story comes when Gideon gets put in jail, and the conditions are so freakin’ horrible that, if you really start to think about it too much, makes you want to cry. Not just for Gideon, who is in the jail waiting to die. But for everyone else in there, too.
Besides the characters, the plot was (eventually) exciting. There’s intrigue, and chase scenes, and conspiracies and weird science stuff! NASA shows up! (I love NASA.) Most of this book is about getting Peter and Kate back to their own time period, but there are some things that I think were set up so they could be carried over into the next book. For instance, there’s an issue with who one of the baddies, the Tar Man, actually is. He’s presented as this horrific figure who was a victim of injustice (and who then became twisted and relatively evil) BUT at the end there’s a hint that he may be someone slightly more than that…and he has layers! I love baddies with layers.
If you like time travel stories, or historical fiction stories, I’m sure you’d like The Time Travelers. It’s fun, exciting, and somewhat depressing, and it ends on a cliffhanger that’ll make you want to scream. The characters could have maybe changed a bit more over the course of the book, but they’re so multi-faceted anyway (relatively, I mean, for a YA book) that it almost doesn’t matter. I enjoyed reading this one enough that I’ll definitely read the next one. I just hope it has a better beginning than this one did!
It’s a pretty good romp! Just ignore the beginning.
Charlotte’s Library: “Excellent time traveling here. The author makes clear the overwhelming different-ness of the past (bringing in all five senses very nicely) without drowning the narrative in Lots of Detail. She offers a generous dollop of social history, without the book becoming at all didactic. And most importantly, her time travel strikes just the right balance with regard to plot.”
The Time Travelers is called Gideon the Cutpurse in the UK! And I’m pretty sure the US version has been Americanized in some places…which is just weird, because most of it takes place in late 1700s England! So, like. Ugh.
Author’s photo is from the author’s website. It’s not mine!
- and the series is named after him ↩