Second Lives: The TimeBomb Trilogy: Book 2 - Scott K. Andrews

Second Lives: The TimeBomb Trilogy: Book 2 - Scott K. Andrews *****

** Review may contain spoilers for Book 1 **

Scott K. Andrews' ambitious and hugely enjoyable jaunt through the paradoxes of time travel continue impressively in the second book of his Young Adult TimeBomb Trilogy, Second Lives. Having established the main characters and shown something of the nature of their ability to move through time in the first book TimeBomb - if not exactly giving away all the answers just yet - the matter of timelines becomes, as you might expect, a little more complicated.

The author's winning idea in the first book was to bring together three young people from very different backgrounds and periods of history. 17 year-old Jana is plucked form New York in the year 2141 along with 18 year-old Polish-born Kaz from the present in 2014 and Dora, a 14 year old maid from Cornwall in the year 1645. Without quite knowing how or why they have been brought together, it's clear they have a destiny to play some part in attempting to prevent an apocalyptic event that is going to take place/has already taken place in the year 2158.

Quite what role they have to play was never entirely clear, nor was their ability to affect any change apparent in TimeBomb. The three teenagers found themselves up against a deadly masked adversary called Quil, who also seems to have the power to jump through time and whose plans seem to be geared towards power and destruction of the world as we know it, or think we know it at any given stage in time. The importance of the other three time travellers however is recognised as important by Quil who is much more interested in capturing them and subjecting them to mind probes than removing their ability to hinder her plans.

There may be a reason for this, and it seems to be that none of the team's efforts to change events has succeeded so far, suggesting that what has already happened has happened despite or perhaps because of their intervention. A mysterious figure known as Steve, who has helped them escape from the clutches of Quil, makes himself known in the second part of the trilogy, and aims to test just how much Dora, Kaz and Jana can influence events in the past and in the future. There may be a 'loophole' that allows events to be changed, but the risks of creating a time paradox are obviously unknown. They are however likely to be potentially catastrophic on a universal level, so they're going to have to tread very carefully indeed.

Whereas the main events of the previous book took place mostly in Sweetclover Hall in Cornwall in the year 1645, in an attempt to get right back and influence events long before they can have any effect in the future, Second Lives takes place mostly on Mars in the year 2158, the year of the terrible event that they are try to stop taking place. There are however several leaps to other significant dates, and in between books both Dora and Kaz have had further adventures that have developed their skills to a considerable degree, but Scott Andrews' managing and control over the timelines - even those where they run into other versions of themselves - is impressive and always clear.

Second Lives has a good futuristic setting that makes it rather more exciting- not that TimeBomb was in any way lacking in invention and adventure - but what really impresses in the second book of the trilogy is how the author continues to remain consistent to the world and the scientific principles that he has gone with. More than that even, he takes into account the philosophical and moral considerations that such manipulation of time would involve, and he makes it clear and thought-provoking. As well as being a thrilling and well-developed SF adventure, the characterisation is as multi-dimensional as the time-travel plot, with even the 'villains' having motivations beyond just being purely 'evil'.

By the end of Second Lives, we've seen some significant developments and one or two twists, but there are critical issues relating to time travel and the ability to alter events that still remain undetermined. All of which gives plenty of reason to make plans to purchase the third book in the trilogy. Without the benefit of time-travel, that could be a long and frustrating wait.


Second Lives: The TimeBomb Trilogy: Book 2 by Scott K. Andrews is published by Hodder & Stoughton on 19th May 2016

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