Laura K Anile’s Beyond Time is the first book in an action-filled YA series. In this volume, 17 year old Ryder Worthington is on his way to school when he encounters a pair of bullies. One moment he’s in the midst of a fight, but excruciating pain suddenly takes him out, and the next thing he knows he wakes up 112 years in the future – in someone else’s body.
Trapped in the body of Ziron – the young man who has apparently senselessly jeapardised his whole life to change places with the boy from the past – Ryder must keep the secret of his altered identity from everyone but the two scientists behind the experimental time-shifting tecyhnology. This is almost impossible in a future where the world has been all but destroyed by a catalclysmic war, where the chasm between the haves and have-nots is huge and rebellion against the controlling government is boiling over.
Ryder ends up tangled in the rebellion, falling in love with someone who thinks he’s Ziron and developing a strained friendship (when they’re not enemies) with Jet – who is also a rival for Kira’s attentions.
Beyond Time is snappily paced and builds a bleak but believable world. More could be made of it, I think, but the parts we see are distinctive. Ryder’s attempts to blend in and make sense of his new surroundings are understandably full of slips, particularly as he gets drawn deeper and deeper in to a very dangerous situation. The consequences of discovery, he’s told, could be deadly, but since every turn holds a deadly secret and so many lives are at stake, there are plenty of heart-stopping moments for Ryder and the reader alike.
The teenage posturing between Ryder and Jet over Kira’s affections borders on the wearing, but just as it’s getting way too annoying, one or both of them shows a little maturity and real care and respect for Kira, which seems a pretty realistic way of portraying teenage rivals in love slowly learning how to grow up.
Kira is a bit too perfect and, for someone who shows she can handle herself well, a bit passive at times, but the core of a good character is there. The fact that she’s seen through Ryder’s first-person, besotted eyes naturally paints her more as a subject of adoration, and I hope she gets to shine a bit more in upcoming books.
The young boy, Tom, who befriends Ryder/Ziron (after a fractious beginning) is easily the most sympathetic character, and this younger boy is often the voice of reason when Jet and Ryder get too argy-bargy in their rivalry.
All of these relationships and clashes are happening with a backdrop of rebellion against an unfair system, many mysteries around Ryder’s real identity and the motivations of the time-shifted Ziron, Jet’s difficult past, Kira’s concern for her mysteriously vanished father, Dr Tanaka, and the biggest mystery of all – what happens to the people who have won the lottery to get passage out of this failing world and into Paradise.
The story is very readable, though a bit clunky in parts. A tighter edit could help the story along (and a few typos and errors sneak in on occasion) but otherwise the text flows easily, and Anile keeps up a brisk pace. I’m looking forward to the second novel of the series, to see how Ryder’s teetering secrets and the big reveal in the last chapter will affect both the teenagers who are starting to grow up and the harsh world in which they live.
See more at Laura N Anile’s website.
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