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Review: Time Riders Day of the Predator by Alex Scarrow

time riders day of the predator scarrow Review: Time Riders   Day of the Predator by Alex Scarrow

Everyone does what they can to extend their lives, whether it be exercise, healthy eating, crystals and quack healers, or a bribe or two slipped to someone in power. Most of us, though, arent ripped out of our personal timeline moments before facing death. Most of us dont find ourselves in the employ of a mysterious organisation working to save the world from the dangers of time travelby using fire to fight fire. For Maddy, Sal, and Liam, however, this strange turn of events is reality. All have been pulled from situations where imminent death threatensthe sinking of the Titanic for Liam, a present day plane crash for Maddy, while in 2029 a fire should have claimed Sals lifeand have been given a second chance as skilled operatives.

Fresh from a vaguely alluded to mission into WWII-era Germany, this motley trio quickly finds themselves mired in all manner of unfortunate mischief. Liam, sent into the future to prevent the assassination of the would-be inventor of time travel, suddenly finds that the notion of two steps forward, one step backward takes on a whole new meaning: without warning, he and all of those around him (a group of nerdy young high schoolers and their nerdier teacher) are swept back to the Cretaceous era, where everything is large, wild, and just a wee bit eerie. While Sal and Maddy use their technological know-how to try to search for their friend, Liam finds that his efforts to send them a message through time are cramped a little by the presence of a highly evolved reptilian species intent on pursuing Liam and his ragtag group of high schoolers. And its with a sense of dejection that Liam finds himself in a 65 million year long race against the clock

My thoughts

It wasnt until a chapter or so into'Day of the Predator that I realised that this was the second in a projected nine-book series. Unfortunately, given that time travel isnt a luxury I can personally claim to make use of (if it were, Id no doubt be able to write my reviews with rather greater frequency), I cant go back and read them in the order intended. Still, theres really no great need to do so, as despite the occasional baffling allusions to past events, and a few hints as to the direction the series will ostensibly take, Day of the Predator functions quite well as a standalone, with Scarrow feeding us (occasionally somewhat ham-fistedly) the information we need to get on top of things.

With its gleaming dinosaur-emblazoned cover and flashy fonts, one of the things that I expected from Day of the Predator was non-stop action, perhaps with some Christopher Pike-esque violence and gore, and I have to admit to being rather surprised at the fact that this doesnt really eventuate. For a book about time travel, vicious dinosaurs, and time travelling nasties, theres a noticeable deficiency of action. This is partly due to the vertiginous slipping between different points in timevery few instances of which actually move the plot forward in any meaningful wayand partly due to the fact that Scarrow early on in the book separates Liam from Maddy and Sal, so while Liam faces seemingly death in the Cretaceous period, the stakes are rather less high for Maddy and Sal, with whom we seem to spend rather an inordinate amount of time. (As an aside, I have to admit that Im a little frustrated by the way this splitting up of the characters affected the gender dynamics of the book: while I was initially delighted to see that the series had two main female characters (or three at a stretch, given that robot Bob appears in his most recent iteration as Becks), I become rather disillusioned by the way that Sal and Maddy are essentially relegated to a peripheral existence that involves little more than thumb-twiddling and concerned expressions.) For a book where the entire future (and/or present) of humanity is apparently compromised, I found myself surprisingly uninterested in the events unfoldingmy main interest, in fact, was in puzzling out time travel-related paradoxes in this book that could have negated some rather large chunks of the plot.

While the awkwardly plotted narrative is partly to blame for this, its Scarrows prose-level approach that is perhaps the downfall of this book. While Liam is given some sense of depth, and the humanoid Becks enough humanity to make her a viable character, the others are all but interchangeable, and I found myself having to cross-reference to check whether I should actually care about the occasional character who found themselves at the mercy of fate (and unfortunately not rushed away by time travelling chappies as their imminent death approached). Scarrows efforts to anthropomorphise a species of intelligent dinosaurs is less than successful, and I felt that far too much time was allotted to these creatures, and to the Cretaceous period stuff in general. The dialogue is flat and over-long, the techno-babble very much as you know, Bob (or Becks, as the case may be) and the exposition is rough and ready, and is bursting with weird run-on sentences (okay, perhaps not as bad as my own, but I dont have an editor, so Im allowed to be indulgent). Perhaps the worst element at this level is the repetitiously redundant pleonastic tautologies (sorry!), which take up so much space that the reader cant help but wonder whether the writer is being paid by the word (hey, it worked for Dickens). If explanations werent reiterated at length at every possible point, Id imagine that this book would be perhaps two thirds of its current length.


While on the surface Day of the Predator bears a rather striking resemblance to Kage Bakers excellent Company series, its unfortunately barely a contender when it comes to zany time travel reads. Given its subject material, it should be an engaging and thought-provoking book, but this is sadly not the case, with the book falling short at just about every mark. Given the plethora of excellent time travel books out there, Id advise readers to spare their eyeballs and give this one a miss.

Rating: star Review: Time Riders   Day of the Predator by Alex Scarrowstar Review: Time Riders   Day of the Predator by Alex Scarrowblankstar Review: Time Riders   Day of the Predator by Alex Scarrowblankstar Review: Time Riders   Day of the Predator by Alex Scarrowblankstar Review: Time Riders   Day of the Predator by Alex Scarrow (not great)

Purchase Time Riders: Day of the Predator from Amazon | Book Depository UK | Book Depository USA

With thanks to Penguin Books Australia for the review copy

Other books by Alex Scarrow

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