When I’m speaking with another author at an event, I always try to read his or her work ahead of time if I can; it’s always more fun for me to meet fellow writers when I’m familiar with their work. So earlier this spring, when I saw on my IRA schedule that I was speaking at an event with James Dashner, I requested an ARC of A MUTINY IN TIME, the first in his INFINITY RING series with Scholastic.  I was expecting a quick, entertaining read. Like THE 39 CLUES, this series has an online video game component, and I’m not much of a fan of video games, but I really fell in love with this book.

The premise is great; two kids discover a way-cool device that allows them to time travel at the same time they learn that they’re the only ones who can go back to fix “breaks” that have altered the course of history. First stop: the voyage of Columbus.  It’s easy for a packaged series to rely on fast-paced action and the occasional explosion in place of solid plot and character development, but this book does a great job creating the world that its main characters inhabit (a world that’s been altered by those “Breaks,” and boy is it fun to discover the changes!). But don’t worry…there are plenty of explosions, too. Action fans won’t be disappointed.

A MUTINY IN TIME has great ties to the Age of Exploration and Columbus and should be a fun read-aloud to share for classes studying that period. Pair it with the Columbus chapter in Georgia Bragg’s HOW THEY CROAKED: THE AWFUL ENDS OF THE AWFULLY FAMOUS if you really want to gross out your students with details of life on board the ships.  (More on that book soon!) This book will also make a great jumping off point for student writing projects that ask “What If…”  If one thing in history changed, what difference would it make in our world today? Fun stuff, thoughtful, and great interdisciplinary connections.

INFINITY RING will grab reluctant readers & action fans, for sure, and I’ve heard that the video game is pretty amazing for kids who love to play online. But make no mistake; there’s more than a flashy video-game tie-in here, and this one will be well worth a read when it’s released in September.