Author: James Dashner
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Length: 192 pages
Scholastic's next multi-platform mega-event begins here! History is broken, and three kids must travel back in time to set it right!
When best friends Dak Smyth and Sera Froste stumble upon the secret of time travel -- a hand-held device known as the Infinity Ring -- they're swept up in a centuries-long secret war for the fate of mankind.
Recruited by the Hystorians, a secret society that dates back to Aristotle, the kids learn that history has gone disastrously off course.Now it's up to Dak, Sera, and teenage Hystorian-in-training Riq to travel back in time to fix the Great Breaks . . . and to save Dak's missing parents while they're at it. First stop: Spain, 1492, where a sailor named Christopher Columbus is about to be thrown overboard in a deadly mutiny!
Protagonists: Dak and Sera are the best of friends and geniuses in their own unique way. Dak is a history buff, with the ability to tell you where and when important events occurred around the world, while Sera is a scientist at heart and an instrumental part in the fine tuning of the Infinity Ring. Together they get enlisted into a secret organizations intent on fixing the various rifts in history, joined by Riq; a young Hystorian, a polyglot, and the oldest of the three they set out through time to fix the various breaks in history. Now I wasn't all too impressed with these character seeing as they all know way more than I do and at half my age no less. It's a bit unrealistic, but then I had to realize that this is a Middle-Grade story which are always about fantastic characters who usually know more than the adults and get to go on these crazy adventures and save the world. So by the end of the book I got off my high horse and actually enjoyed the characters and how they grow, ever so slightly, over the course of this story.
World-Building: Set in a dystopian version of our present day, where significant events have been changed and all hell has broken loose under the tyrannical control of the SQ. While some decide that life under SQ rule is a necessary evil, there are those, like Dak's parents who decide to do something about it. Dak's parents have invented the Infinity Ring, later perfected by Dak's friend Sera, a device that allows the user to travel through time. This very dangerous-in-the-wrong-hands device can be used to set right the world's Big Breaks, events in time that didn't go how they should have. This first book find our heroes saving Christopher Columbus from a mutiny aboard one of his ships sailing for "the West Indies" or in reality what will eventually come to be know as the New World. Now I'm not going to go into the whole "Christopher Columbus was a terrible human being that would have deserved a mutiny" thing because that would take too long, but I will say that it is touched upon, though not entirely as much as I would have liked, but enough that I didn't want to start ranting at the book.
Predictability: Honestly since this book was so short and was intended for a much younger audience, I'm just not sure if there wasn't enough foreshadowing or if there really wasn't anything someone as old as me could predict, but the story felt very straight and narrow. The story moves along much like I had expected it would and doesn't really take any sort of twist or turn, except for a few rare moments when I was genuinely surprised, but that surprise was more how things unfolded and less about if they would unfold.
Ending: The ending came very quickly and was very fast paced. A lot of things happen in only a span of a few pages, but as far as Middle-Grade action goes, this was pretty darn good. Not too violent, but still has the feel of let's say a Pirates of the Caribbean movie in terms of action. As for the very end it ends in a bit of a cliffhanger though even if the next book wasn't out the end is still resolved, or I guess continued in the online game.
Corresponding Game: With this being a multi-platform title, not only does it mean that each book is written by a different author, but that the story continues in online adventures that correspond with the end of the books. In this case the game finds our heroes on another journey to fix one of history's Great Breaks. While the game was fun, your basic RPG style format, it didn't really add much of anything to the story other than what happened after the end of the first book and it didn't even do that very well. There was no character or even world development as I'm still in the dark as to the very huge cliffhanger at the end of this first book. I think with a bit more storytelling this game could have been a real asset to the story of this world.
With this being my first multi-platform series I was actually pretty impressed. Obviously I'm going to have to give it a few more books to see if the series can stand with so many authors underneath, but aside from a few too many Middle-Grade tropes I found that I really liked the story and am excited to continue. I'd recommend this series for children 10 and under.