My usual reading habit is to pick up books where I dont have to pay a lot of attention to every minute detail hidden in every line. Instead, I prefer books that give me a general or pattern driven message that I can grasp through a mix of fast and slow reading. Slow reading for passages where I want to pay extra attention to a significant minutiae and skimming through the supporting text.
This habit has served me well over the years as it has helped me to increase my reading capacity. I can read as many as 2-3 books simultaneously and with Audible in the mix, I have added one more. I find this strength of mine, incredible.
However, it also came at a cost. I had to let go of good fiction books. Good fiction writers use strong prose writing and are high on literary content. This requires dedicated reading sessions with full concentration on the book in hand. Many a times, I have struggled to make this kind of commitment.
But few days back, I came across a science-fiction series named ‘The Time-Turner, James Turner Series‘. This book is about a young boy and his adventures in a fictional but believable world.
The book starts with the boy living with his grandmother in Florida. While the teenage boy is still coming to terms with his usual day to day struggles after the loss of his parents, he also learns that he actually belongs to a secret society that is dabbling into radical innovation of the world.
The story then moves to Boston. He moves here along with his friend’s family and grandmother. This leads to a series of discoveries. Thanks to a time machine invented by his father, he learns about his latent abilities but also gets to know that he has a secret twin sister. The story then further goes deeply into a complex situation of three secretive but warring societies, to culminate into multiple revelations in the book ending. I am not going to spill the beans of the whole plot here.
What really amazed me is the level of detail provided by the author in describing his surroundings page after page. The author, Halbert Gladwyn, stitches the whole world with every sentence as if you are standing next to the protagonist boy Turner. The writing is visually very stimulating. The tone is maintained of a youngster laced with curiosity, amazement, remorse when talking about his dead parents and occasionally rebellious to highlight the growing anxiety of youngsters of that age.
The other aspect that the book scores really well is the ease with which the author handles all the complex technological concepts with ease. From holography to detailing the time machine, to discussing concepts of artificial intelligence and even some medical sciences. The author has firm grip on the topic that he has set out to capture the reader’s imagination with. The level of research he may have done is truly remarkable. As I see, while many authors make many assumptions about their audience, Halbert uses the teenage charm of the lead protagonist to give a quick byte into the meaning of the tech he is referring too. He really knows his audience.
I was very much amazed by the imagination of the author about the voice assistants, their snooping nature and the ability to deal with them throughout the book as a whole character. Its actually two characters of voice assistants. A very well handled complexity in the book. In fact, Terra’s, the lady voice assistant, character is handled so well that at multiple occasions you sway from liking an every helpful Terra to fearing her in-built snooping nature.
The book takes a slow start in the beginning. One really needs to concentrate in the first couple of chapters to understand all the series of events that unfold. The pace is just too fast. At least, I felt so. But it could also be due to the handicap I mentioned above. I had to reread this part multiple times.
In the later chapters the pace of events is to my comfort. However, once in a while I felt that the author strayed from the situation into describing the teenage mindset and the dilemmas they face. This got prolonged at times especially when the protagonist engaged in three way discussions with his best friend and his secret twin. But one doesnt get bored and is merely distracted. It takes time to come back to the situation.
The ending came both as a surprise and a bit abrupt. I guess its purposeful to ensure that one gets to see the next one in the series.
The biggest surprise I got is when I learned that the book is written by a Class /Grade X teenager. I usually keep the preface and acknowledgment of the book for the end, just to avoid any kind of bias in my reading of the book. The author says that he started writing it while he was in Class/Grade 8th. I wouldnt have trusted it, like Shahid Afridi’s International Cricket debut age, had I not known the author personally 🙂
Remarkable work for the age indeed.
I would highly recommend reading this book. It certainly will take you to another world and in with the help of the time machine, in another time.