Warning: spoilers.Hello again all!
I'm back to book reviews for the time being. My most recent read was Sent By Margaret Peterson Haddix. It's the second in a new series called The Missing. All in all, it was a good book. I'm always impressed when an author can accurately create another time period or in this case an experience with time travel that seems accurate. If I were writing, I'd get all confused with who was supposed to be doing what and how to explain anomalies and the like that it would be an utter mess. This is why I stick with realistic fiction. I can deal with real.
Haddix does a fantastic job of portraying the 1400s. Her use of the characters that are pulled into the 15th century seems realistic. I especially enjoyed the use of what she calls "tracers." This would be what was originally supposed to happen the first time around in history. Since there are now characters who are essentially messing with time, the reader can often see the tracer doing something different. This ranges from lips moving to different words, to hands coming out of the body in a ghost-like fashion, to the whole tracer (A "copy" of the person) doing something totally different. Haddix's descriptions played easily like a movie in my head. I can see this becoming a teen movie in about 5 years. Not only that, but there is a ton of room for more stories.
In the first book, Found, Jonah, his friend, Chip, and various other children discover that they are stolen children from the past. They don't know who they are, but scientists from the future are now trying to send them back to their original time period so that time won't get screwed up. The problem is that they don't know that they are stolen children and aren't really excited about being shoved back into a time period that they know nothing about, especially ones without Ipods and television and indoor plumbing. Book one ends with Jonah, Katherine (Jonah's sister), Chip and another boy named Alex being sent to the 15th century. Apparently, Chip and Alex are Edward V and his brother Richard. Jonah and Katherine are there by accident and are determined to save Chip and Alex from what is most likely a fatal outcome.
I'll skip the details so you can read it without knowing what's going on, but in the end Jonah and the other kids are back home only to be asked to leave to another time period. Jonah accepts the challenge and is sucked back into who knows when. We still don't know who Jonah really is (in history, anyway) and that is a question that lingers in the back of our minds throughout the whole first and second books. Since there are thirty or so kids who were stolen from time in the first novel, I'm hoping that we don't have to see all thirty stories to see who Jonah is.
For a middle grade book, this is fantastic. If, as you read this, you discover that I seem less than enthusiastic, it's not by any means because of the story itself. It is well written, interesting and complex, yet able to be easily read and understood by middle grade kids. I think my tastes in books has been refining a lot lately, and I need to choose higher YA or adult books. The few middle grade books just don't do it for me any more. I'm sure you'll begin to see those changes in my next few reads. In the mean time, if you have a child in the middle grade age range, especially boys, I'm sure they'd love The Missing series.
I'll leave you at last with a question or two:
1. If you could be anyone in history, who would you like to be?
2. If you could go back in time and change anything, what would it be?