Kicking off a multiauthor, multimedia thriller series modeled on The 39 Clues, this paint-by-numbers opener endows three teenagers with a football-sized time device and sends them back to 1492 to keep Columbus from being killed in a mutiny.
Strewing early scenes with clever "what's wrong with this picture?" references like a flag with 48 stars and the national capital as Philadelphia, Dashner hooks up self-described "Time Nerds" Dak (mad about history), Sera (ditto science) and Riq (ditto languages), with the Hystorians. Set up by Aristotle after the premature assassination of Alexander, this secret organization is meant to identify other history-derailing Great Breaks (through intuition, apparently) and to assist travelers from the future in fixing them. The Hystorians are opposed by a powerful group called SQ for no clear reason except that, you know, there have to be Bad Guys. Logic not being the strong suit here, the Time Nerds' first mission with the newly invented Infinity Ring takes them not to ancient Macedon but to 15th-century Spain. This and subsequent print volumes end on cliffhangers that segue into gamelike, online-only sequels (not seen) set in other eras and accessible with pass codes provided on foldout clue sheets.
Off-the-shelf adventure modules, stocked with familiar character types and set into a scenario that is nonsensical even by the usual low standards of formula time-travel adventure. (Science fiction. 10-12)