Friday, 17 June 2011
Book Review: The Book of Time by Guillaume Prevost
Fourteen year old Sam has had his share of troubles: his mother was killed in a car accident several years ago, they moved from their familiar neighbourhood to a strange and lonely part of town for Sam's dad to open a rare used book store, his father has fallen into a depression and goes on sudden "business trips" so Sam has to live with his grandparents, and the class bully wants to beat him up. However, Sam's father has disappeared for 10 days with no word, even missing Sam's birthday, so Sam goes looking for him at the book store. In the basement, he finds a stone statue that looks like an ancient peanut dispenser, a strange book and a coin with a hole in the middle. He places the coin in statue and is pulled back in time to Scotland in 800 AD. In order to leave he must find another coin to place in the statue, but first he also must survive the Viking attack on the island. This is the first of Sam's time travel adventures in search of his father, which take him to France in WWI, ancient Thebes and 14th century Bulgaria.
I really enjoyed this book and the human story of Sam looking for his father, missing him and feeling confused, trying to fit in at school, missing his mom and their old life, and trying to keep up with his school work. I felt for Sam - he had been through so much and now even his dad was gone!
There is also the adventure part of the book, which weaves in very well with the human story. When Sam time travels he finds himself in situations where he must think fast in order to survive, trying to figure out whole new cultures so that he doesn't draw attention to himself. The author sets up these worlds quite convincingly, and the challenges that Sam faces keep you on the edge of your seat.
While listening to this book, I kept thinking how wonderfully rich the language and description was. I know this is a translation, so the French is probably even better, but I was completely drawn into the vivid worlds created by Guillame Prevost.
The audio book was narrated by Holter Graham, who did an amazing job. He is a dynamic reader who altered his voice for the different characters and even changed his accents to suit the different locations in time. He was fun to listen to.
I loved The Book of Time and can't wait to read the second in the series, Gate of Days. The book ends on a cliffhanger, which left me wanting more. I think this book will appeal to middle grade readers, especially boys, who like adventure stories and are interested in history (though I am sure girls would enjoy this too). I would imagine if you like Percy Jackson type books, you might like this one, with its adventures and glimpses into other cultures.
The middle grade fantasy out there right now is great, does anyone have any favorites?