"Magic blooms in Angel Falls, the setting of this promising launch to Curley's time travel trilogy," wrote PW. "Readers will likely be swept up by the ever-growing complications." Ages 12-up. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Twelve years ago, Ethan's older sister died under mysterious circumstances. Since then, he has tried to lead a normal life, despite the fact that his parents have never recovered from the deep depression caused by her death. Making it even harder for Ethan to be normal is the fact that he is also one of the Named, a Guardian of Time and part of an ancient organization sworn to fight the evil Order of Chaos. Guided by his Trainer, the powerful but reclusive Arkarian, Ethan is assigned dangerous missions in the past, where he fights to keep members of the Order from changing history in ways that will increase the evil in the world. Now, however, Ethan himself has been named a Trainer. His joy at this promotion turns to dismay when he discovers that his new apprentice, Isabel, is the younger sister of his former best friend Matt, who has become, for reasons unknown, his sworn enemy. Lurking in the background, with murderous intent, is Marduke, a hulking monster of a man with a hideously disfigured face and only one eye. In this first novel, Curley develops two solid protagonists, although it is sometimes difficult to distinguish their narrative voices. Also serviceable, although not particularly original, is her concept of time-traveling heroes and villains, although her historical scenes are rather thin. The plot occasionally seems both contrived and clumsy, beset with too many coincidences and dependent on more than one deus ex machina. There is potential here, however, and later books in the series should improve. VOYA CODES: 2Q 3P J S (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q; Will appeal with pushing; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined asgrades 10 to 12). 2002, Bloomsbury, 332p,
The present lives in this book are affected by events in an unseen world where a battle rages between the mythological forces of the Order of Chaos and The Guard. The Order of Chaos tries to change the past so the present will be altered and made chaotic. The Guard fights the forces of Chaos to preserve history and the present, to fulfill written prophesy. Ethan, a normal sixteen-year-old, and his fifteen-year-old friend, Isabel, are two of The Named who belong to The Guard. The Named complete missions throughout history, for example, in ancient Greece, in the time of England's Richard II, and in Colonial New England, in order to prevent The Order of Chaos from prevailing. Set in modern Australia, author Marianne Curley has created a powerful story that held my attention from beginning to end. If students like the Harry Potter books, or the Lord of the Rings, they will love The Named. In the same category as Lois Lowery's The Giver, this book has Newbery Award possibilities. I highly recommend it. 2002, Bloomsbury Children's Book, 332 pp., Thompson
Gr 7-10-Ethan, 16, belongs to the Guard, a secret group of humans who use paranormal powers to protect the Earth against the Order of Chaos. While Chaos tries to change the course of history, the Guards travel back in time to thwart their schemes. Isabel's healing powers bring her to the Guard's attention, and Ethan is assigned to be her trainer. The two engage in some dangerous time-traveling assignments, which lead to an ultimate battle between the two opposing forces. The plot ends up involving many others from Ethan's town, including his teacher, his father, his best friend, and his long-dead sister. The narrative alternates between Ethan and Isabel, and his earnest and sometimes-arrogant manner is balanced by her more casual style. This is all fairly lively, with a premise that's easy to follow and some involving action scenes and character dynamics. The time-travel adventures lack a true sense of immediacy, though, especially when compared to the more gripping scenes involving Marduke, the horrible soldier of Chaos. The identity of a mysterious masked female will be easy for readers to guess. Despite a few slow spots, however, the author keeps things moving smoothly toward the climax. While the anticipated battle involving Ethan's father and Marduke settles the main conflict in a satisfying way, some unresolved plot threads set the stage for a sequel.-Steven Engelfried, Beaverton City Library, OR Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Swashbuckling time-travel plus soap-opera relationships make for a page-turning start to a promised trilogy. The mysterious death of Ethan's older sister when he was only four left his family a wreck: his mother hospitalized with depression, his father an emotional automaton, and Ethan subject to horrific nightmares. But for Ethan, his real life for the past 12 years has been with the Guardians of Time, in their eternal battle to prevent the Order of Chaos from disrupting the proper workings of history. After he's assigned to train his schoolmate, Isabel, as his first Apprentice, an ancient prophecy gives the pair only a few short weeks to thwart Chaos's top general in his assaults against the past, before the unfolding of an even more terrifying destiny. Protecting the time stream is hardly an innovative concept in fantastic fiction, but Curley pulls it off with panache. While the various historical periods are only perfunctorily limned, the ritualistic panoply of the Guard itself begs for further exploration. Cocky, loyal Ethan and self-confident Isabel are likable enough, but the real hook for teen readers will be their romantic entanglements. Isabel hides her lifelong crush on Ethan, as her older brother, once his best friend, seethes over Ethan's attraction to his girlfriend; meanwhile, an unlikely character recognizes in the oblivious Isabel his own destined soulmate. Anguished heartbreak and suppressed longing are bound to continue to spice up the history-hopping sword-and-sorcery, making the sequels an ongoing guilty pleasure. (Fantasy. 12+)