Ben and his friends just wanted to play a bit of softball but that lightning strike zapped them back in time, going from 2009 to 1986. Ben, Fresca, Carson, Robbie, and Blake. They’re all in their mid-20s and quite baffled by the common fashion sense of the average 1980s Florida resident. The story has a bit of nostalgia to it but also plenty of action. Once they come to terms with their reality, sort of, they decide to address their immediate needs: shelter & food & perhaps clothes. Luckily, Robbie’s grandfather lives in the area in the 1980s and luckily he’s bored enough or lonely enough to give these young people a chance.
I love the pace of the story. The tale doesn’t linger over the how and the characters don’t get to wallow in self pity. Sure, some are more concerned than others (Blake – I’m looking at you pining away for Mallory) and some take longer to deal with the shock of it, but pretty soon our fab 5 are hunting for some scientists to help them figure things out. That’s there Dr. Harold Quickly comes into the picture, along with this well traveled daughter Mim.
There’s a challenging foe in the story as well. Strenger is an arsonist who doesn’t mind killing people along the way. Somehow he also got sucked back into 1986 and he is also hunting for answers. I liked this aspect of the story because it complicated matters for our heroes. As if accidental time travel wasn’t bad enough; here’s this murdering evil fire bug to stop.
There was so much I liked about this story. It’s all about the adventure and avoids the often drawn out drama of time travel that can bog a story down. Things keep going wrong and there were a few times that I wanted to give Ben a little shake for making such a simple mistake. There’s side characters that help our heroes and there’s those that do them wrong. I also loved that not all of the fab 5 decided to put everything on the line just to get back to their natural timeline. After all, there’s plenty of time travelers that live when they want to.
The one issue I have with this story is the dearth of female characters. Fresca holds potential but she’s pretty one dimensional in this book. There’s a handful of female side characters, and they do get names and a few lines. However, I had to get about 5 hours into the book before we got another main female character: Mim. And, of course, she’s immediately slotted into the role of main love interest. She contributes little else for the rest of the story. There’s no female scientists or individual time travelers and they make few plot related decisions.
The story leaves us with enough wrapped up to be satisfying but plenty open enough for the sequel to just stroll right in. I was especially happy with Robbie and his choices. I can see Ben becoming the great time traveler we all need him to be. 4.5/5 stars.
The Narration: Neil Hellegers is a shear delight to listen to. He gives Ben the barest goofiness to his voice which makes him sound like the relatively innocent young man he starts off as. I loved his rough, angry voice for the villain Strenger. His female voices are believable and I liked his very light accent for Fresca. His Montana cowboy voice was also well done. There were no technical issues with this recording. 5/5 stars.
I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Nathan Van Coops. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.