Kereesa's Reviews > Time Snatchers

Time Snatchers by Richard Ungar
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Mar 09, 12

bookshelves: first-reads, arcs, 2012, science-fiction, young-adult, friendship, teenage-romance, time-travel, we-are-never-getting-back-together
Recommended for: 13-16 year olds. Mature content and violence
Read from February 11 to March 03, 2012, read count: 1

***A big thank you to the Goodreads First Reads program for sending me an arc copy!***

Before I begin this review, I should let you know I've been a big fan of the Artemis Fowl series for pretty much the entirety of my teenager years. (Seriously, I remember buying the first three books in paperback from Scholastic-Remember those flyers?!) And if you know anything about Artemis Fowl (Fairies+scifi elements+criminal activity=MG awesomeness), you can see why I was excited to get my hands on Time Snatchers.

Time traveling thieves? Oh, yeah, I am so there!

But, sadly, as you've probably guessed from my rating, the book wasn't to my taste.

So Time Snatchers is about an organization of thieves, Timeless Treasures, mostly young adults, who's main job is to steal random (and mostly mundane-eg first 'Frisbee' invented, oh yes the bragging rights :P) 'treasures' from the past in order to sell them to a filthy rich clientele, all under the thumb of the evil 'Uncle'. Caleb, our MC, is one of many (well like 5) thieves, who's developing love for his partner Abbie, his rivalry with his fellow thief Frank (who Abbie seems to like), and an uncontrollable urge to find a family of his own are getting him into more than his fair share of trouble. Add in a bit of rule-breaking, the friendship of a five year old who continually mispronounces his name, and some mafia-style threats and punishments, and you've got the majority of Time Snatchers.

Concept alone, Time Snatchers was definitely intriguing. Time traveling thieves? Again, so there. And for a good portion of the novel, the author did something that is absolutely necessary to do time travel well: he made rules. And I'm actually going to talk about this, because it highlights one of the major problems I had with the book. So in Time Snatchers, there's this concept called "Time Fog," a kind of phenomenon that exists when an individual is in a time period not his own for too long, (the average time is cited as about 50 minutes), and essentially puts the time traveler in a confused state until they return to their correct time. Which I thought was pretty clever since it prevented anyone from just traveling to 14th century Vienna and living there for the rest of their lives, or at least not being able to do so without facing some problems.

That is until I got to a certain point in the novel where Uncle decides to expand his organization by abducting children from DIFFERENT TIME PERIODS.

Do you see the problem here? I definitely did. How can he steal children from different time periods if they become under the influence of a confusing, mind numbing time fog, AND expect them to FUNCTION in this time period? In a previous chapter, Caleb is unable to even remember who he is almost due to the time fog, and is seriously lacking in some motor skills.

Now, there are two possibilities that can explain why such an obvious discrepancy exists:

1a. (and this isn't very plausible in my opinion) I read/misread the novel. Doubtful, but I'll put it out there. Maybe the author explained this, and I somehow skipped over that info-dumping moment. (Please let me know if I did!)

1b. This is an ARC copy and subject to some changes from the final version. Again, I find this a doubtful explanation, because it's such a large part of the novel.

2. The abducted children, after a certain exposure, forget their previous lives, and adjust to their time period. (Or alternatively at a certain age, the time fog doesn't affect them-not really reasonable IMO, but it's there) There is, however, IMO a counterpoint to this claim (which I'm going to put in spoilers, so please don't read it unless you would like the novel entirely spoiled for you) (view spoiler)

Another discrepancy I found within the novel was the use of memory (loss) pills. Cited as being able to make you forget up to a certain period/time, the pills are kind of unpredictable IMO, and aren't explained very well. The best example is at the end of the novel: (view spoiler)

In terms of overall plot, I found the novel interesting, but a bit cliché and slightly predictable. I knew a lot of the outcomes and twists that occurred, and wasn't thrilled with certain events (view spoiler) that were meant only to drive the suspense factor of the piece.

Caleb's relationship with Abbie, and his distrust of her was especially annoying, because it fell into that protagonist-acting-too-stupid-for-audience-to-care category that grates on my nerves (He kind of fell into that category throughout the book TBH). I wasn't a fan either of Caleb's attraction to Abbie, either, not because of their relationship or anything, but because the language used was a bit too sophisticated (and sexualized) for a 13 year old boy in my opinion. Don't worry, it's nothing to the extreme, but it's a bit much, I think, for a younger middle school audience. (Hence my suggestion for 13+)

The black and white categorization of the various villains/heroes was also something that frequently urked me, as did the various threats, punishments, and violence dealt by the villains to make them undeniably evil without any redeeming qualities. Even the more morally gray characters, Phoebe and Nassim really, are still generally good/evil, or, in Phoebe's case, without true human emotion and essentially manipulable.

The writing isn't anything to write home about, and fits into the generic 1st person, middle school/YA name-dropping style you see in abundance throughout both genres. While there are some novels I find that pull this kind of style off well, The Lightning Thief and the series in general come to mind, Time Snatchers didn't do much for me.

All in all, Time Snatchers was okay. The world, some of the plot, and a bit of characters were fascinating, but in the end none of that could rectify the problems I saw with continuity, discrepancies, and obvious villain/hero statuses. While I recommend this for MG/YA audiences, this is a borrow not a buy, and maybe even a read first before giving to your kids for the more mature content and violence. 2.5/5
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Reading Progress

02/19/2012 page 186
48.0% "I'm blatantly ignoring some of the problems I'm seeing in this novel. It's fulfilling my inner child that loves Artemis Fowl, and all things fun. INNER CHILD PEOPLE-IT'S VERY IMPORTANT!"

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