“Time Travel is fun until you try it . . . ” Tom Oakley is 11. He can travel through time into the past. To save the world he must sacrifice his family—a good enough hook for any teenage reader I think!
Tom is an ordinary boy who has ordinary problems (if you can call being bullied at school and worrying about a best friend, ordinary) But he has a nightmare on his birthday—and then the not-so-ordinary stuff starts. He experiences déjà vu-type moments when time seems to get muddled, then things get more complicated when he meets Septimus Mason and learns the truth about these historical flashbacks into times past. He must make a choice between normality or power and responsibility, while travelling to different eras in time, from the Zulu Wars to the Great Fire of London.
The time travel aspect of this excellent story is well thought out and very believable, as is Tom himself and the main characters; the reader is uncertain, in places, just who are the good guys and who are the baddies—and on occasion a bit of both—just as in real life. There is a lot of adventure here to satisfy any 10+ teen reader, especially the boys, and snippets of historical action will fit many a school curriculum with just enough history to gain interest, but not so much to be too daunting. This is a book to go on every school library shelf, I think.
My only comment (being pedantic) would be that maybe the opening couple of chapters could be a little faster paced, but this is from an adult perspective; I don’t think teenagers will agree. This is the first in the Hourglass Institute Series and I look forward to reading more.