Second Lives | Scott K. Andrews | 2016 | Hodder & Stoughton | 368p | Review copy | Buy the book
Second Lives continues the excellent time travel adventure begun with TimeBomb. You wouldn’t want to read one without reading the other and so this review assumes that you’ve read TimeBomb.
Jana, Dora and Kaz are back. These three young time travellers from our future, past and present continue to find themselves pulled back by some force in time to the laboratories under Sweetclover Hall in Cornwall. A quantum bubble draws them in like a magnet but it also keeps time out, giving them a temporary respite. They have escaped the mysterious, malign Quil but she continues to pursue them as they must also continue to pursue her. Each holds the other responsible for catastrophes in the future, on colonised Mars and on Earth. The time bomb is ticking. One would have thought that time is something that our young heroes have plenty of but they are discovering that it is running out. They can’t stay in the bubble forever, they have to go out there, throw themselves into the frontline, and try and change time.
I thoroughly enjoyed TimeBomb but Second Lives definitely takes a step up as we follow Jana, Dora and Kaz into the recent past (Beirut in 2010) and off planet in the future to Mars in 2158. In both cases there is an event to prevent, one of which is deeply personal to one of our three, and the team is about to learn just what happens when you try to meddle with time. There are more time paradoxes here than you can shake a cat at and, while it certainly becomes extremely complicated in places, it’s all done with a touch of humour. The solution is just to go where we’re taken and not to worry about what’s going on as strands of the story become increasingly entangled and characters meet themselves time after time, leaving enigmatic clues.
There’s a lot going on here that isn’t explained. We know more about Jana and Dora but there’s still much that’s being hidden for the next book. Likewise, Quil is more intriguing that ever and responsible for some of my favourite sections of the novel.
There are more shocks and emotional upset here than I was expecting and I liked that. There are a couple of moments when I had to ask myself if I really had just read that. Our three heroes are young people but they’re fast learning the consequences of deadly force and the potential tragedy of life. But despite some gloomy realism, Second Lives is such a fun novel to read. There’s plenty of humour, interesting character development (particularly between Jana and Kaz) and an abundance of puzzles – just enough to make your head spin.
This is such an entertaining series, utterly confusing (in a good way) and full of fun and teenage troubles. The series might be intended for a younger readership but I definitely think there is so much here for all ages to enjoy, especially if you like a good old flux in the space time continuum.