Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Innovative Online Book Tours: Review of Untimed, by Andy Gavin




Welcome to this stop on the
Untimed Tour,
sponsored by
Innovative Online Book Tours!!




Andy Gavin
Trade Paperback, 325 pages
Mascherato
December 17, 2012
Romance, Science Fiction, Suspense,
Young Adult Fiction


Goodreads Synopsis

 Charlie’s the kind of boy that no one notices. Hell, even his own mother can’t remember his name. And girls? The invisible man gets more dates.

As if that weren’t enough, when a mysterious clockwork man tries to kill him in modern day Philadelphia, and they tumble through a hole into 1725 London, Charlie realizes even the laws of time don’t take him seriously.

Still, this isn’t all bad. In fact, there’s this girl, another time traveler, who not only remembers his name, but might even like him! Unfortunately, Yvaine carries more than her share of baggage: like a baby boy and at least two ex-boyfriends! One’s famous, the other’s murderous, and Charlie doesn’t know who is the bigger problem.


When one kills the other — and the other is nineteen year-old Ben Franklin — things get really crazy. Can their relationship survive? Can the future? Charlie and Yvaine are time travelers, they can fix this — theoretically — but the rules are complicated and the stakes are history as we know it.

And there's one more wrinkle: he can only travel into the past, and she can only travel into the future.




My Review

(Note:  This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.)


Book covers are, for me, an intrinsic part of the pleasure of reading.  A great book cover accompanying a great story is sheer literary bliss!  I must say that's the case here.  Once the reader opens this gorgeous cover, created by the brilliant Clint Langley, s/he will discover that Gavin's quirky time-travel tale is a joy to read, not only because of the highly imaginative plot, but also because he has created characters that are vividly real, and very, very funny. 

Although at times the novel has an almost Disney-like feel to it, this is not really a middle-grade story, in spite of the enchanting illustrations sprinkled throughout the text.  (They're the work of the equally brilliant Dave Phillips.) I would classify this book as a young adult novel, with a touch of mature sensuality.



The plot is fiendishly full of unexpected twists and turns, and very suspenseful, as well.  It turns out that time travelers, in the world created by Gavin, are born; that is, they have 'the time travel gene'.  They never quite fit in anywhere, being nomads in time, and so, are not very memorable, which is why the 'normals' can never remember their names.  Charlie, his father, and paternal aunt are born time travelers, but his mother is not, as Charlie finds out one apparently ordinary afternoon, when a weird clockwork man attempts to kill him.  After the chase of his life, Charlie decides to follow the strange mechanical man into a hole that suddenly opens up in the ground....and is transported to London, England, in the year 1725.  This is where he meets Yvaine, a fellow traveler from medieval Scotland, and the as-yet-unknown Benjamin Franklin, who has a very interesting connection to Yvaine. 

Thus begin Charlie's adventures in time.  Throughout the book, he and Yvaine find themselves hurtling through time (although, to them, it seems like mere minutes) in order to set right the changes to history that they have unwittingly set in motion through their actions in 1725 London.  Along the way, they meet quite a cast of colorful characters, human and mechanical alike.  

Donnie, who happens to be Yvaine's current romantic partner, is the leader of a small gang of thieves very much reminiscent of those in Dickens's Oliver Twist.  Also known as 'Dancer', he is a totally unscrupulous character, and not above giving Yvaine a sound beating when he deems it necessary.  Charlie takes an instant dislike to him, since he yearns to win Yvaine's love himself, and wants to take her to live with him in his own timeline -- the year 2011.  Carrot is a skinny, amiable contortionist whose unusual talent comes in very handy when it's a matter of squeezing out of tight spots.   Stump has only one arm, but is very skilled with a pistol in spite of that.  Ben Franklin, the future American statesman, is no more than a printer's apprentice in this novel.  His importance here hinges on whether he will survive to become one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America....or not. 

The strange clockwork men, known as "Tick Tocks", are the creepy, and very frightening, members of some sort of unusual "Time Police".  They try very hard to keep history intact, yet are not above manipulating time themselves.  Charlie coins nicknames for two of them -- 'Rapier' and 'Longshot' -- based on their choice of weapons: a sword for one, a rifle for the other. The "Tick Tocks", although able to make decisions and adjustments, are cold, lifeless mechanisms, with not a hint of compassion.  They will kill a time traveler at the drop of a hat. 

Sophie, Charlie's aunt, is another memorable character.  She seems to care more about her nephew than his own father does, and she joins in his time adventures with courage and gusto, helping him defeat the bad guys so he can then save Yvaine. 

I didn't much like Charlie's father, nicknamed 'Fink' by
Sophie, for most of the novel.  He appears to be somewhat aloof and uninterested in having his family reunited, in the correct present timeline.  Then, all of a sudden, Gavin has him step in out of nowhere at a desperate point in the novel, and he literally saves the day.  That's when if becomes obvious that he does, indeed, care about his son, even though he might not show it outwardly.  

The stars of the novel, Charlie and Yvaine, make up one of the best couples I've yet come across in YA fiction.  Their romance blooms in the midst of all the time-hopping, and it's so sweet to watch!  Charlie is noble, kind, and daring to a fault, while Yvaine is a rather jaded young girl who hasn't experienced much in the way of kindness from men.  Until Charlie, that is.  With him, she slowly begins to emerge from her cynical little shell, and becomes the tender, loving girl she's always been, down deep.  She's no wimp, though.  Indeed, she's just as courageous as Charlie, just as stubborn, and very affectionate once she does fall for him.  Although from different centuries, they're clearly meant for each other. 

This novel is full of great dialogues, too, especially the parts where characters speak in some sort of English Cockney dialect.  Yvaine and her fellow thieves use all manner of slang expressions that make it hard at times to understand what they're saying, while coming across as very funny. 

I would certainly recommend these wacky adventures and lovable time-traveling pair to anyone who enjoys science fiction spiced with lots of humor, as well as nonstop, edge-of-your seat action.  This is sheer fun, although the story's background science and paradoxical time twists are indeed thought-provoking, thus making it even more appealing! 

Thanks to a very surprising cliffhanger, the reader is rendered helpless to do anything else but wonder when the sequel will be out.  And I'm happy to report that I'm one of these readers!  I want to read many more of Yvaine and Charlie's journeys through time.  Bring on the next great time-traveling adventure, Mr. Gavin! 




MY RATING:






Purchase Links



Andy Gavin
Author Bio
Andy Gavin is a serial creative, polymath,
novelist, entrepreneur, computer programmer, author, foodie, and video game creator. 
He co-founded video game developer
Naughty Dog, and co-created Crash Bandicoot
and Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy
He started numerous companies, has been
lead programmer on video games that
have sold more than forty million copies,
and has written two novels, including
Untimed and The Darkening Dream,
a dark historical fantasy
that puts the bite back in vampires.


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5 comments:

  1. This sounds like a great YA title and one I will keep an eye out for. The cover does look spectacular.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi, Arabella!

    Oh, you definitely MUST read this one!! And I love this cover so much, I featured in one of my previous "Shelf Candy Saturday" posts!

    Thanks for commenting!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks Maria for the great review! I'm glad you liked it and you clearly got what I was striving for in writing it (which is always gratifying). There will be a sequel too (I'm in the middle of writing it). :-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi, Andy!

    Oh, you're more than welcome!! This was truly a very entertaining story, with some fascinating concepts about time thrown in for good measure! You certainly deserve any accolades that might come your way!!!

    From the way this novel ended, I gathered that there would be a sequel. YAY!! I definitely want more of Charlie and Yvaine!! Keep me posted on the sequel, and thanks for the lovely comment!! : )

    ReplyDelete

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