March 21, 2015

Robert Schell: "The Foster Children of Time"

Title: The Foster Children of Time  [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Temporal Affairs (1st of 3 books)
Author: Robert Schell [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-Fi, Time Travel, Fantasy, Comedy
Year: 2014
Age: 12 +
Stars: 3/5
Pros: Well written and well researched. The time travel aspect is fresh and interesting. Fantasy and science blend nicely.
Cons: Could have gone deeper with main characters and given a better sense of their friendship. Also, some things seem to happen a bit too hurriedly.
Will appeal to: Those who like time travel aimed at the past. Those who are in for a mix of historical and fantasy.

Blurb: One day while on a family outing at the beach, Texas teen Tony Marco happens upon a group of time tourists from the year 2088. Unsure of what to do, Tony reconnects with his more adventurous, estranged childhood friend Caroline Montano, who impulsively crashes the tour, dragging Tony along with her. Tony and Caroline soon find themselves on a black hole-powered portal to various exotic eras in Earth’s past, where they encounter Stephen Gaudet, an independent time scout who promises to take them home, free from the oversight of the time travel governing authority, Temporal Affairs. Instead, Gaudet kidnaps Tony and Caroline and transports them to a twisted fantasy kingdom in the 11th Century A.D., where they encounter a quirky cast of characters. Relying only upon their own wits and with help from their newfound friends, Tony and Caroline discover that one does not have to be a legendary monster slayer or great warrior to face off against Giants and Dragons. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review. As a matter of fact, I connected with him via the Young Adult Fiction for Adults group on Goodreads, and asked for the chance to read his book. This didn't influence my rating in any way.
The first thing you need to know about TFCOT is that it's a self-published book. The second is that it's a well written self-published book.
This needs to be emphasized, for no other reason that the cruel stigma attached to indie/self-pub books: bad editing, worse delivery. Which may be true sometimes, maybe even most of the times, but not necessarily true.
I did notice a handful of typos in this book...but they were genuine typos, like missing quotation marks or a name with a different letter. I also noticed that "anyways" was used freely, but only in informal speech. All the rest was, I think, flawless writing, the type that shuns lazy words without going for pretentious ones. It was refreshing to be reminded of the many alternatives to the unimaginative "she said, he said" :).
Tony and Caroline find themselves in the middle of a bizarre, peculiar adventure. Instead of merely ending up in the past (though they indeed do that), the two friends are cast into a twisted version of it, which still retains/relies on elements of our present, like computers and genetics. Those are revealed a little at a time, or mostly uncovered by the duo (especially by Tony, who apparently has a curious, enquiring mind). History is woven into the tapestry of their adventure, but there are other forces at play, like what appears to be a touch of real magic. The historical events are thoroughly researched (the notes at the end of the book testify just that), but at the same time, profitably used as a background to a fun fantasy ride. [...]

Are you afraid time travel is going to mess with your head? Not the case here. Logical explanations about the ins and outs of it are given early in the book, though not all the cards are on the table by then. There's a lot that Tony and Caroline aren't told, or that is deliberately hidden from them. Some of the answers are given at the end of the book, and of course - this being the first chapter of a trilogy - some aren't given at all. We make an exciting discovery about Tony and his link to the time travel bus, which only sets the background for the next installment and leaves us wanting more.
My biggest problem with TFCOT was in the character department. While both Tony and Caroline are relatable and easy to like, I felt they could have fleshed out more. Same goes for their friendship, since we don't get a real sense of it till Ch. 19, and even then I couldn't help feeling like we had barely scratched the surface. Hopefully, the sequel(s) will make amends for that :).
Also, both friends are apparently well-versed in a lot of stuff (Tony in particular) and noticeably smart, which doesn't seem very believable, coming from two 15 y.o. kids (no offence meant to the youngsters, but the two things together aren't often seen IRL, are they?). On the other hand, there probably would be no story if they weren't, and it would be a pity, so I'll let that pass :).
I'm not a huge fan of fantasy, which may have detracted a little enjoyment from me while reading this story - but I still appreciated it, and if you're a fan of the genre, you will devour this book like candy. Also, I'm confident that Book 2 and 3 can only get better. You see, I took a bus to the future...

For my "The Mariner King" review (second installment in the series) click here.

For more Sci-Fi books click here.

2 comments:

  1. I don't know if this book is for me, but I think it's awesome that you not only enjoyed a self-published book, but that you took a chance in the first place! I've read several over the years (some really bad, but some really, really good). I don't do it as much anymore just because I have so many books on my shelves, but good stories are everywhere. I love that self-publishing is popular, and for sure, there will be duds, but overall I just don't think there can ever be enough books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've learned that, more often than not, writers turn to self-pub because traditional presses are unwilling to take chances with different material. But we so need it, it's not even funny. Yay for different writers - who know how to write of course! ;)

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