The Time Trials by Jon McConnell and Dayna McConnell is the first book in a YA sci-fi series featuring a a group of four teenagers who compete in a secret time travel competition. I received this as an ARC through NetGalley but it was actually released last year. The second book is being released in September and the first book was put on Read Now on NetGalley.
I had a great time with this really unique book and look forward to picking up the second book.
After the deaths of his parents in a horrific car accident — one that he considers his own fault — Walkman-toting, guitar-playing Finn Mallory would do anything to turn back time…to press “rewind.” When he’s admitted on full scholarship to an elite boarding school, things get more complicated: he becomes an “Unfortunate” in a sea of rich kids whose shoes cost more than his late parents made in a week. An invitation to a boring-sounding history club changes everything, as this team does much more than research and field trips.
Well….they do take field trips. Just not the kind you’re thinking. For Finn, the present was already enough to deal with, but now he finds that he also must reckon with the past, in more ways than one.
I had a lot of fun reading this book and plan to pick up the next one. This world and the whole idea is just so interesting. It’s like The Hunger Games meets The Firebird Trilogy with a hint of contemporary YA boarding school. I love all of those things and this blend was great.
The idea of the time travel competition and this secret society was really fascinating. It left an air of mystery but that really worked given the reader knows everything the main characters know and you learn along with them. The various rules and equipment were well explained without getting boring and I really enjoyed the parts where the team was having fun with the wetsuits and otherwise joking around. I would have liked to see a little more of some of the places they visited (particularly the first challenge) but it kept the pace going so maybe a good choice anyway.
The four main characters are such a ragtag little team and I really liked their dynamic. I liked various parts of each of them although no real standout favorites. I would have liked to get to know Edison and Valerie more, I thought they were both interesting and I liked their dynamic but I think they only had one section each where it was their point of view. I think either no sections or more were needed but either way, I want to know more about them.
There are parts of this story that are really fast paced and interesting. The end totally flew by. The initial build up was a little slow until they finally were time traveling but there was interesting stuff and I was glad to have gotten to know the characters.
My only slight complaint on this one was the points of view and voice of the book. The sections changed the point of view fairly often and sometimes I forgot who was talking as they didn’t have distinct voices and there were no cues about who the narrator was. There were definitely some missed opportunities to make these characters sound unique, like I found it hard to believe that Finn and Everly both described Everly’s shoes as Prada Mary Janes. It also seemed off for Finn to describe a dance and talk about chiavari chairs. A few tweaks to their voices and maybe limiting to only two or even three narrators could have made this flow a lot better for me.
Overall, this was a really fun YA sci-fi story and I look forward to the next one.
* I received a free copy of this title through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.