Saint John Don Bosco:

"Never read books you aren't sure about . . . even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?"

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Nick of Time by Ted Bell

Is it an adventure story? Historical fiction? Science fiction? It’s super-story, transcending genres with a a single bound.

Nick McIver lives in a lighthouse on an English island. It’s the perfect location from which to track the movement of German subs right before the war. Nick’s father helps the war effort in this nascent stage of battle, and it inevitably involves Nick.

This isn’t even the beginning of the adventure. Nick runs into an evil pirate who wants the time-travel device that has “fallen” into Nick’s hands.

By the time of the rising action, Nick’s back in time fighting for his life on an English ship up against Captain Blood who has kidnapped women and children, terrorized parents and sailors, and is after the time machine invented by Leonardo and held by Nick and friends. Back in our present time, his sister, cared for by the top security officer of England, is being involuntarily “hosted” by Nazis on their top-secret submarine and about to be executed. Nick dodges bullets, rescues children, tosses dueling adults his weapon, all in the nick of time back in time while his sister simultaneously outwits the Nazis with excellent acting and help from sharks, electric fences and her dear friend, Hobbes.

Are you breathless yet?

What drew me in was the character. How not to like Nick? He is a boy who wants to be brave and learns that comes with mastering fear. He puts his little sister’s safety first even when it interferes with his adventures. He’s an admirable little role-model. Pirates and knives and time travel and Nazis make him an appealing one.

Despite my admiration for the story and characters, I found that I sometimes had to push myself to get through the book as opposed to consistently being caught up in the story. I hope you will find this to be more a flaw of mine than the book’s.

The menace of the bad guys should not pose a problem for all but the most sensitive readers. It’s more blood than guts and all appropriate to battle. While it is light on the violence, it’s not without death. The shot between the eyes of a bad guy in the water, for example, was self-defense but might indicate an audience of older tweens.



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