Thursday, January 13, 2011

On A Dare! Sabotaged by Margaret Peterson Haddix

"I. Don't. Care," Andrea said.

"I know you think your plans and your strategies are important, and it really, really matters to outsmart the man who lied to me--and to protect time, like it's some perfect, priceless jewel. But it isn't. It doesn't matter."

She was getting choked up. She gingerly touched John White's sleeve. "This man came all the way across the ocean to find his family. He risked his life for that. So if I'm one of the people he's looking for--and I am--I'm not going to hide from him. I'm gonna tell him who I am."

But what Andrea wanted to do--that was just reckless. JB would never allow it. So there was no way that JB knew where they were, Jonah thought. Nobody knew where they were.

In the third book in Margaret Peterson's best-selling Missing series, Sabotaged (Missing) (Simon & Schuster, 2010), the author sends brother and sister Jonah and Katherine with their also kidnapped- from-time friend Andrea back into the sixteenth century to "fix time." However, Andrea, the stolen-from-time Virgina Dare, has secretly been approached by a mystery visitor from the future who entices her into reprogramming her Elucidator with the promise that it will enable her to go back one year and prevent the deaths of her twenty-first century "parents" in an accident.

But the three land on an unknown destination, a deserted island seemingly without inhabitants. But they soon stumble upon a crumbling settlement and find a log with the word "CROATOAN" carved into it and realize that they are indeed back in the time in which Andrea's alter ego, Virginia Dare, might have been alive. And when the three see an elderly man struggling in a sinking small boat in the wild surf off the island, they instinctively rescue him, and Andrea soon intuits that the man is John White, her grandfather who left the struggling colony to seek reinforcements and supplies back in England shortly after her "birth" as Virginia Dare, the first English child born in North America.

As in her earlier titles in this series, Found (The Missing, Book 1) and Sent (Missing), the theme again plays upon the time traveler's iconic dilemma, that is, whether it is ethical to right wrongs and do good in the past at the risk of irreparably altering the future in unforeseen and perhaps malevolent ways. Andrea, having lost her second set of "parents," is determined to reveal her identity as Virginia to her grandfather and claim whatever family link she can find in 1600 in the New World. Jonah and Katherine know that such a reckless action can exile them in "broken time," removed from their twenty-first century lives and their yet-to-be-revealed "first" lives sometime in the past, leaving them "out of time" forever.

Haddix, who first ventured into futuristic fiction with her gripping 1997 novel, Running Out of Time, runs into some problems in this third novel of her current best-selling series. Muddled exposition leaves the reader a bit lost in time with her characters, confused as to exactly what their back-in-time mission is. The introduction of "Second," another visitor from the far future at odds with their mentor JB, comes only late in the novel to explain why they are apparently wandering in time and why this all matters. The manipulative "Second" turns out to be a proactive believer in the virtue of changing time for what he determines is best:

"Is it an ending or--just the beginning?" Katherine asked.

"Oh, very good!" Second was beaming. "There are so many possibilities.... With his granddaughter at his side, John White has a reason to live now. And he'll keep drawing pictures. In just seven years, English settlers are going to trying again in Jamestown... What if John White and Virginia Dare go and help out at Jamestown, bringing the gap between the English and the natives? What if there's finally some respect between the two sides?"

"And what if your wonderful time shift ruins everything?" Jonah asked.

It seems the reader must wait for Book Four to find out. With her detailed epilogue which fills her readers in on the true story of the "Lost Colony" on Roanoke Island (in case they, like her character Jonah, were daydreaming through his fifth-grade social studies class that day) and her persistent reminder of the time-travel problem, Haddix does give middle readers a bit of history and plenty to ponder philosophically in this science fiction/historical fiction adventure series.

Margaret Peterson Haddix is also the author of the award-winning near-future science fiction Shadow Children series, as well as the equally engrossing Double Identity and Escape from Memory, both page-turning suspense stories plotted on that border between reality, science fiction, and fantasy.

Labels: , ,


  • Hi GTC,

    What a great're a guru. Which is why I'm getting in touch. Would you be at all inclined to apply your considerable wisdom to a picture book (5-10yr olds) I'm launching this year? It's called 'Skeleton Eater'. Here's a link to a sample.

    Very keen to hear what you think!
    Edwin McRae

    By Blogger Edwin, at 7:50 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home