Saturday, 3 March 2012

Review: Gates of Rome - Alex Scarrow

Title: Gates of Rome
Author: Alex Scarrow
Series: Timeriders #5
Format: Paperback
Pages: 448
Genre: Adventure, Scifi, YA
Published (UK): 1st February 2012 (Puffin)
Previous Books in Series: TimeRiders, Day of the Predator, The Doomsday Code, The Eternal War

Liam O'Connor should have died at sea in 1912.

Maddy Carter should have died on a plane in 2010.

Sal Vikram should have died in a fire in 2026.

But all three have been given a second chance - to work for an agency that no one knows exists.

Its purpose: to prevent time travel destroying history . . .

Project Exodus - a mission to transport 300 Americans from 2070 to 54AD to overthrow the Roman Empire - has gone catastrophically wrong. Half have arrived seventeen years earlier, during the reign of Caligula.

Liam goes to investigate, but when Maddy and Sal attempt to flee a kill-squad sent to hunt down their field office, all of the TimeRiders become trapped in the Roman past.

Armed with knowledge of the future, Caligula is now more powerful than ever. But with the office unmanned - and under threat - how will the TimeRiders make it back to 2001 and put history right?

Another time wave has Liam travelling back to Roman times to investigate the cause. Meanwhile attack on the remaining TimeRiders, sends Maddy and Sal fleeing - their only escape being to follow Liam and head through the portal. With no one left in the office (except Computer-Bob), they have no means of returning. Nor do they know what might be waiting for them if they ever do manage to get back.

Trapped in a time when Caligula is ruling years after he should have died, knowing that the time blip has caused New York to not exist, Liam, Maddy, Sal and Bob have to figure out how to fix things from where they are - and hope that somehow they'll return home.

Alex Scarrow provides another action-packed, fast-paced and excellently written book, continuing and adding to the previous books in the series. This instalment takes a slightly different angle to the earlier ones, with all three of the TimeRiders being in the past together (usually at least one of them is back in the field office). This leads to a bigger sense of apprehension as not only are they trying to correct the time line, they're also trying to find a way to get home. Previously they've been stuck in all kinds of war zones but this time, Liam describes altered Rome as the worst place he's ever been. There's violence, gangs and an insane Emporer who's becoming more and more powerful. This book really steps up and somewhat pushes the boundaries of Young Adult fiction in terms graphicness and description.

Gates of Rome is the middle book of the TimeRider's series (there's nine planned all together) and as such the overall story arc is becoming more prominent, with more insight into the TimeRider's agency and the future. There's also a message of environmental and ecological concern which plays a part to the story and that's becoming more and more evident as the series continues, although  it doesn't come across as preachy at all.

I can't wait for the next book, City of Shadows, which is due in August 2012.

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