Mark of the Centipede by Cara Brookins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Mark of the Centipede (Time Shifters 1)by Cara Brookins
This is a slightly different time travel novel than I've seen out here. This one requires less thought about historic accuracy and spends more time on the development of characters. It also has a bit of a twist in that there are two compellingly separate protagonists that end up at odds with each other adding a bit of wrinkle to the usual reader empathy factor. It also is written for young adults, but that doesn't stop me from enjoying it.
The story starts with a clever bit about Namor the Time Ranger who is inducted into the Time Rangers at age 12 and is 32 now and the agency has fallen on bad times and now most agents are Rogue agents who chose their own assignments and Namor's assignment is to locate another possible time traveler named Jordan Booker who is responsible for the death of Namor's time traveling parents.
Then the reader is introduced to Jordan Booker; perhaps to see how he became such a despicable person. Jordan and his sister Jada are on their way to Arkansas to live with their Aunt Maggie. They are orphans. And Aunt Maggie is now their guardian and she has used the (estate) money given her to purchase a rundown shack out in the middle of nowhere. Life isn't going to be very easy for these two and perhaps one might think that this and the abusive nature of Maggie might be what drives Jordan to evil straits.
On this secluded property is a crater that’s fenced in and its former owner, Albert, has been mining the crater for artifacts that might be alien in nature. Albert left some notes and artifacts and Jordan and Jada soon discover that there is definitely something strange out in the crater. Jordan eventually discovers that the Chronos (a possibly advanced society of some other time) have sent the time machine here so that he could travel through time and collect some artifacts that would help them save the future world. With that in mind he recklessly activates the time machine and ends up in a prehistoric landscape full of early humans who seem much more intelligent than historians have given them credit for with plenty of dangerous flora and fauna; and Jordan is stuck for 60 days before he can return. Jordan must undergo a severe self taught survival course and find the time machine, which has been moved; Plus he unknowingly is stalked by another time traveler.
So throughout the story we have two possible protagonist/antagonists who will eventually collide if Jordan survives long enough.
The novel is an interesting and surprisingly satisfying introduction to the strange world that Namor and Jordan live in and its interesting past. It also serves as a great medium to introduce the two characters who are destined to some eventual major conflict; but it’s a serial and there are three books: so it might be a while before I find all the answers.
Overall the novel is well written and draws to a satisfactory conclusion, leaving plenty of room for the next two novels. Definitely worth the time to read the well told story and crafted characters.
Good SFF for the Young and Adult and neat little Time Travel yarn though it does tend to stretch the Suspension of Disbelief factor a bit.
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