Charlie’s the kind of boy that no one notices. Hell, even his own mother can’t remember his name. And girls? The invisible man gets more dates.
As if that weren’t enough, when a mysterious clockwork man tries to kill him in modern day Philadelphia, and they tumble through a hole into 1725 London, Charlie realizes even the laws of time don’t take him seriously.
Still, this isn’t all bad. In fact, there’s this girl, another time traveler, who not only remembers his name, but might even like him! Unfortunately, Yvaine carries more than her share of baggage: like a baby boy and at least two ex-boyfriends! One’s famous, the other’s murderous, and Charlie doesn’t know who is the bigger problem.
When one kills the other — and the other is nineteen year-old Ben Franklin — things get really crazy. Can their relationship survive? Can the future? Charlie and Yvaine are time travelers, they can fix this — theoretically — but the rules are complicated and the stakes are history as we know it. And there's one more wrinkle: he can only travel into the past, and she can only travel into the future!
Untimed is a really fun romp through time, taking the reader on an adventure to Georgian London, Napoleonic France, and then into an alternate steampunk version of the present day. I was hooked on Charlie from the first page, and I really felt for him as a sixteen-year-old boy who walks through life feeling like a shadow, overlooked, unappreciated, and ultimately forgotten by nearly everyone he meets. But it turns out there's a reason Charlie is so anonymous, and it all starts to fall into place when Charlie jumps into a hole after a murderous clockwork man and falls into 1725 London.
As luck would have it--or maybe not--the first person he meets is a filthy girl who picks his pocket and leads him on a street chase culminating at the door of a young Benjamin Franklin's print shop, where she tries to convince Ben that he's the father of her infant son. Charlie's not interested in Yvaine's personal drama, he just wants his wallet back, but it turns out Yvaine is a time traveler too, and if Charlie has any hope of surviving life on the London streets to get back to his own time, he's going to need Yvaine's help. Hooking up temporarily with Yvaine's crew of street rats, led by her other boyfriend, the cutthroat Dancer, Charlie has to keep his wits about him to avoid the magistrate, the clockwork man hunting him, and the wrath of Dancer as Charlie grows closer to Yvaine. When Dancer forces them into his plan to break into Benjamin Franklin's shop to steal paper money, the plan goes horribly awry, and in a split-second decision, Yvaine and Charlie jump through time to save their lives, though unfortunately they leave a dying Ben Franklin behind.
And it turns out that without Ben Franklin, the future is nothing like what it's supposed to be. Charlie is convinced all will be put to right if he can only make his way back to Philadelphia in 2011 and find his dad, who Charlie thinks must be a time traveler too. But nothing in the future makes any sense, and it turns out that that one little incident in a London print shop had far-reaching repercussions as Charlie and Yvaine finally make it back to the present day only to discover an America that is only just now on the brink of a war for independence with Britain. Yep, it turns out Charlie's made a real mess of history, but with the help of Yvaine and his dad and his Aunt Sophie. he's determined to go back in time and set everything to rights. If he can get there in one piece, and if the clockwork men who seem determined to stop him don't get to him first.
Untimed is very entertaining--exciting, imaginative, and action-packed, with an endearing hero and a sweet and sexy love story. It all worked really well for me, as long as I didn't try too hard to understand the mechanics and rules of the time travelers' abilities. Andy Gavin brings the gritty streets of eighteenth-century London to life in all their dirty, stinky, dangerous glory, weaving together a tight plot full of time jumps and surprises with interesting characters, both real and imagined. And just when our young hero thinks he's got everything figured out, here comes the cliffhanger ending, setting up very nicely for a sequel.
My Rating: 4 Stars out of 5
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