Sixteen-year-old Ethan Roberts has more to worry about than his lackluster grades. As one of the Named, he is charged with secretly protecting history from the Order of Chaos--an evil group that seeks to alter the past to achieve ultimate power in the present. Ethan is given orders to train his first apprentice, 15-year-old Isabel Becket, in a few short weeks as his growing nightmares soon make it apparent that trouble is brewing on a cosmic scale. The two are helped by Arkarain--Ethan's violet-eyed, blue-haired, 600-year-old mentor--and their secret powers. Isabel is a healer. Ethan is a master of illusion. Their stories evolve in rotating chapters, each told in a similar first-person point of view that makes chapter transitions disorienting at times. But The Named is at its strongest when school and parents fade. Its imagined settings are a pleasure, from the booby-trapped catacombs that house the Prophecy that was written before time to the Citadel--a way-station to the past--with its wildly decorated rooms. Ethan and Isabel's missions to Medieval England and colonial America are also a thrill, indicating that the adventures detailed in this book are just the beginning for this duo.
I picked up this book largely for two reasons - the cover was pretty and it was a new book in the library. I don't think I actually even read the back until I got home. Sounds like all the makings of a big mistake ... except it wasn't! The Named surprised me by being really good!
Ethan is a Guardian of Time and has been since he was a small child. Basically the Guardians are responsible for making sure certain events in history happen as they should, fighting against the Order of Chaos who are set to change the past and well, pretty much cause chaos. Guardians all have their own powers - Ethan can create illusions with his mind - but most don't get them until a later age than Ethan. Isabel is just getting hers - healing - and Ethan is promoted to be her trainer. Not only does he only have two weeks to get her ready for her first mission, there's also the matter of her previously having a crush on him and him having been friends with her brother until they fell out over a girl.
The Named is told from the points of view of both Ethan and Isabel, switching between the two for each chapter. I really liked this because it meant I really got to know both of them as themselves, not just how the other one saw them. The story is full of action, following both Isabel's training - which helps us understand what the Guardians are all about - and their adventures back in time with the obligatory massive battle towards the end. There's also a bigger plot with a prophecy that I imagine spans the whole trilogy. In this first book we are introduced to it and each of the characters named in it, although even by the end of the book, it's not completely obvious who's who in the prophecy.
One bit that confused me slightly was tying to work out where the story was set because it didn't seem quite British or American. Although it was never stated in the story (I don't think anyway) I eventually googled the authors name and with her being Australian, I guess that was the setting - which makes sense when I thought back to the bits that confused me lol. Not that it particularly mattered for the story but I like to know these things.
The Named is an enjoyable read with likeable main characters and an interesting group of secondary characters. There's action, time-travel and fantasy elements so it covers a lot of bases and therefore should appeal to a lot of different readers.