Max has been having very vivid dreams about battles in ancient Britain, fighting alongside the grandfather he’s met only briefly. When his grandfather falls ill and the family move to be with him, Max suddenly finds that the dreams are memories. He’s a time traveller, just like his grandfather! Catapulted into a race against evil forces, Max must remember how to use his powers and figure out how to destroy the artefacts that could let Roger Bacon open the gates of hell. Assisted by family, friends and the mysterious Time Research Department, fourteen year-old Max is in for a wild ride through time, facing demons, warriors and his own deepest fears in his quest to save the world. Can he defeat Bacon or will the world as we know it cease to exist? Keep your fingers crossed and wish Max luck, because even a time traveller can run out of time…
‘The Multiverse Of Max Tovey’ is a young adult book by Alastair Swinnerton. It is a fast-paced and, at times, frantic ride through time with a good blend of fantasy, Science Fiction and historical elements. I should probably put a disclaimer here before I start, I’m in my thirties and not my teens, so I’m probably not the primary audience for this book, although I maintain that a great YA book should be enjoyed by people of all ages, so perhaps that shouldn’t matter.
I found this book to be a bit of a mixed bag in all honesty. There were things I really liked and things I found immensely frustrating, which were all tied up together so that it’s hard to separate them. For instance, I found the characters confusing. Max starts off as a troubled teen, plagued with nightmares that turn out to be memories of past travels in time with his grandfather. His parents are reserved and concerned about Max. All fine so far. However, when Max starts travelling, he switches to a different timeline, so his parents turn into totally different people and suddenly Max, who should be the same person, is also wildly different and wholly accepting of this new family. There’s no mourning the parents he was raised by, just an immediate hurrah that everyone’s suddenly much more light-hearted and they all go off on time travelling adventures. I don’t know about you but if my folks suddenly changed into alternate timeline versions of themselves I think I’d be at least slightly upset! I’m afraid I just didn’t find these people very believable.
Then there’s the story itself. This is split into sections and within a section things rattle along at a pretty fast pace. Sometimes I think the pace is too fast but mostly it’s good page-turning stuff, with loads of action to keep readers, young and old, interested. A dash of Celtic mythology and British history are added in to provide some nice world building elements and overall this works well. However, each section seems to end rather abruptly and then we start all over again in the next section with what feels like a totally new quest, so when put together the sections feel a bit disjointed. The final ending also followed this pattern, too, and while I know there are further books planned for this series, it did leave things feeling somewhat unfinished and unsatisfying.
I suspect that many younger readers – this is aimed at around the 10+ age group – would be more forgiving of these points than I am, which is why I thought I’d put the little disclaimer in at the start about my age. However, I do think that with a bit of editing there’s a great story in there, so I was frustrated at the lack of coherence between sections and the confusing nature of the characters. Having said that, some of the time travel elements were great and I am curious to see how this will pan out over the next two books. As far as I’m concerned, this book wasn’t a complete success, but the potential is there, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed and see what happens in book two.
(pub: European Geeks Publishing, 2015. 252 page ebook. £ 3.79 (UK). ASIN: B013PZQGCM)
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