Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Erasing Time by C.J. Hill

Taylor and Sheridan Bradford are twins who are anything but normal. Taylor is a brilliant scientist, working on her doctorate in particle physics at University of Texas. Sheridan is the more normal of the two, a typical eighteen year old in her senior year, hoping to study English.

That is until the day they are whisked 400 years into the future by scientists  from a city named Traventon. These men are looking for a famous scientist named Tyler Sherwood and it's obvious they erred in capturing the girls instead. Or did they?

Life in America, 400 years into the future is, as expected, vastly different from what Taylor and Sheridan are use to. America is no longer a united country, but instead divided into city-states which exist under domes and are often at war with one another. There are at least two rebel factions, the Davine who are a subversive force that have infiltrated the government and all the professions, and the DW known as doctor worshipers who believe in freedom of speech, knowledge and belief.

The first people Sheridan and Taylor see upon awakening are Echo Monterro and his father Jeth. Echo has light-blue hair and a turquoise crescent moon around his left eye. Jeth has maroon hair and a large green dots on his face. Most of the other men in the room are similarly decorated.It becomes immediately apparent to both girls that people 400 years into the future, speak an unfamiliar version of English and dress very strangely, often having dyed hair and colourful face art. While Taylor and Sheridan quickly learn how to decipher the modern language which has bits of Spanish intermingled, the 25th century men and women cannot understand their English, the exception being Jeth and Echo. This is because Echo and Jeth are wordsmiths, whose specialty is the language of 20th and 21st century America. As a result, Jeth and Echo are assigned to look after Taylor and Sheridan.

Echo immediately realizes that the two girls are twins, just like he and his brother Joseph were. He seeks to hide this information from the scientists because he knows this will place them in grave danger.

When Jeth and Echo take Taylor and Sheridan on a tour of the city, Sheridan begins to notice that despite religion being banned, there are religious symbols everywhere. For example, Sheridan sees what she believes is a nun caring for children. Since everyone in this future society is heavily costumed, the nuns go unrecognized. But their long black dresses with a white circular collar and black hair, dyed white around the face like a wimple are unmistakable to 21st century Sheridan.

Hill through the use of dialogue between Echo and Sheridan, tells us much about this future Earth. The people are vegetarians. Everyone has a tracking crystal implanted in their right wrist, making it impossible to go anywhere undetected. The city of Traventon is enclosed in an electrified dome which prevents the inhabitants from leaving. Computer usage is monitored and those who don't follow the rules or rebel against authority have their minds erased. Babies are not conceived the natural way and couples don't marry.

It takes the scientists, led my a man named Helix,  some time but they eventually discover that Taylor is in fact the Tyler Sherwood whom they want. And they want Taylor because they need her expertise to perfect a devastating new weapon - based on something Taylor herself created 400 years earlier.

Taylor eventually tells Sheridan about her doctoral research. Taylor, using the pseudonym Taylor Sherwood, wrote scientific papers in the 21st century describing a transporter she helped design as part of her research. This device, known as a "quark-gluon plasma converter" or QGP. is capable of transporting matter from one place to another by converting it to energy (remember Star Trek!). Taylor was working on it with Dr. Branscomb who strangely enough, died shortly after Taylor disappeared. The work of the QGP was taken over by Dr. Don Reilly, Branscombe's partner. But then two months later he also disappears.

Taylor and Sheridan consider that Reilly might also be in Traventon, 400 years in the future. These scientists used their Time Strainer in the future to send signals to the QGP in the past to capture people from the past four centuries. Taylor decides that she must send a signal from the future, from the Time Strainer to her QGP in the past to destroy it. This is the only way to prevent no one else from the past being brought forward into the future.

They decide to enlist Echo to help them break into the Scicenter to destroy Taylor's QGP. Although they manage to do this, Helix is now after both Taylor and Sheridan because he has learned that the Time Strainer really have captured did capture Tyler Sheridan.  Meanwhile both Taylor and Sheridan discover in a very personal way, that Dr. Reilly has indeed been time strained into the future and that he is working with Helix to further develop the QGP. Taylor and Sheridan now know they can no longer stay in Traventon. But who do they trust? Can they trust Echo who they are certain is part of the Dakine?

When Echo makes an astounding revelation, the situation becomes even more complex. Pursued outside the city by Helix, all must fight for their freedom. They learn that Helix has another QGP that can be used to turn people into energy waves. Possession of such a weapon could create a huge imbalance between the city states leading to all out war.

Erasing Time was one of the best young adult novels I have read this year. It had an engaging great story line with unexpected twists, a well developed and plausible dystopian world, and fascinating, well drawn characters. The element of time travel along with a dose of romance enhances the level of interest. Unlike many YA novels today, there is no objectionable content in this book.

The story is told in both Sheridan and Echo's voices which are believable and have great depth. Echo is a young man who cares for Sheridan and who is looking for a relationship that is real. He loves Sheridan's simplicity and honesty which shine through her personality. And he also admires that she stands up for what she believes in and that she is courageous. But Echo is a complex character, troubled by a terrible secret.

C.J. Hill is the pen name of Janette Rallison, well known for her romantic comedy novels among them, Just One Wish and My Fair Godmother. Of course, Erasing Time will be followed by what promises to be a thrilling sequel.

The booktrailer for Erasing Time is quite good and features the richly coloured violin music of Lindsay Stirling.

Book Details:
Erasing Time by C.J. Hill
Katherine Tegen Books 2012
361 pp.

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