Book Review: Timecachers by Glenn Petrucci

From the back cover:

“When Adam Hill of Overhill Engineering accepted the assignment to test the innovative device, he knew the project would be exciting, but this was far beyond his team’s expectations. A handheld navigation device with the ability to provide precise location information anywhere on earth—or anywhere in the universe—without the need of a supporting satellite system!

“”We’ve discovered some interesting anomalies that may actually enhance the unit’s functionality,’ said Dr. Odan, the enigmatic inventor of the LANav device. ‘We need engineers who are familiar with hardware and software testing, as well as an aptitude for outdoor activities, such as backpacking, orienteering, and survival skills. They will also need practical knowledge of early American history.’

“As avid outdoorsmen and geocachers, Adam’s team was well suited to the project. Field testing the device would require them to travel to the remote mountains of northwest Georgia, where wilderness skills would understandably be required. But what possible need for knowledge of early American history could there be?

“They soon discover the device has the capability to lead them not only to any destination—but to any time—in this case May, 1838, the beginning of the Cherokee Indian Removal.”

—–

One day last week, Mr. GeoK spotted Glenn Petrucci’s first novel available as a free download from Amazon’s Kindle store and he used the one-click download to send it to Mrs. GeoK’s kindle. Intrigued by the description, she started reading it later that day. Two days later, her progress bar read 100% (equivalent to almost 600 pages). Her thoughts and observations:

  • The first chapter introduces team leader Adam Hill and we meet the other members of his team one-by-one, in each of the next three chapters. Each has his (or her) little quirks, so it’s pretty easy to feel a personal connection of some sort with each one of them. Adding to their likeability is the fact that they’re all geocachers!
  • The author pokes a bit of fun at modern geocaching, making somewhat disparaging observations about lamp post and other forms of drive-up caching. Sal longs for the good ol’ days when every geocache was a challenge.
  • As the team sets out to field test the prototype LANav unit, the hiking and back-country skills they’ve acquired through geocaching are very useful. The location testing goes even better than expected; it’s when they start to test the strange anomalies that Dr. Odan mentioned that things get really interesting.
  • The most striking thing about the team’s sudden shift to 1838 is how calm everyone seemed to be about a navigation device that transported its users through time. Not only did the team members quickly get past their initial skepticism and settle in to follow wherever the LANav might lead them, but the Cherokee people seemed equally accepting of the ability to travel through time, something I ended up ascribing to their spirituality. But if you can get past the glossing over / easy acceptance of time travel, then the rest of the book is thoroughly engaging.
  • It’s over the next several days in the story that the reader begins to appreciate the extent of Petrucci’s research. Rich, historical detail permeates the day-to-day experiences of each team member and their new friends. Petrucci deftly illustrates many different perspectives on the Cherokee round-up and the beginning of the Trail of Tears. This time in American history is not something that’s part of the Canadian school curriculum, so was something new to me, and very thought-provoking.
  • By the time the team’s journey back in time comes to an end, the story evokes both sadness and hope, including hope that Petrucci will write another Timecacher adventure!

WARNING: This is not a fast-paced book. It contains a wealth of historical details and the cadence of the story provides the reader ample time to absorb the Cherokee phrases, try to understand the politics of the time and develop a sense of friendship with at least one member of the Overhill team.

TEASER: According to the Timecachers facebook page, Petrucci is currently working on a second book, set in Boston in 1775.

RATING: 4 out of 5 stars, with the loss of one star due to the reader’s need to ignore the fact that all of the characters readily accept time travel.

RECOMMENDED: For those with an interest in American history, geocaching, and character-based novels.

Visit the Timecachers website for a discount on the paperback version and for details on how to borrow the ebook version from the Kindle lending library.

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