From School Library Journal
Grade 5–8—This fantasy by Irish author McNamee introduces Owen, whose father has died mysteriously, and whose mother has sunk into a depression. Out in his wilderness hideaway, he catapults into a time vortex where he meets a girl named Cati and her fellow Wakeful. Their eternal task is to fight the Harsh, a powerful ice people who upend time, running it backward so that humans no longer exist. Owen, Cati, and other Wakeful set out to find the Puissance, the place where it is foretold that the Navigator, a legendary figure, can defeat the Harsh and restore proper time. Readers who head for D. J. MacHale's "Pendragon" (S & S) and Garth Nix's "The Keys to the Kingdom" (Scholastic) series may like this one as well, but it sometimes strains credibility. The idea that time is moving backward (from modern to medieval times by novel's end), but that all humanity immediately disappears (even though there were humans back then) is hard to accept. And while Owen and Cati are plucky adventurers, the descriptions sometimes fall flat, and the transitions are occasionally abrupt. Consider this title an additional purchase; acquire where Kenneth Oppel's Airborn (HarperCollins, 2004) and similar titles are popular.—Caitlin Augusta, The Darien Library, CT
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Owen often escapes his widowed mother's house for his den, a cozy hideout along the banks of the river. One day he spots a strange man in a faded uniform staring across the river. As Owen creeps up on him, the world plunges into total darkness. When the darkness lifts, the man tells Owen, "It has begun." It appears that Owen has an important role to play in an eons-long battle between the Resistors and a group of villains called the Harsh, who freeze everything they touch. The struggle is at a crisis point; the Harsh have managed to start the Great Time Machine running backward. The concept is somewhat sketchy, but McNamee, who wrote the adult book Resurrection Man (1994), keeps the action vivid and exciting, giving readers little time to worry about details. An editor's note indicates that the interesting cast of characters will return for more adventures. Lynn Rutan
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