Hadden’s YA fantasy debut features a group of teens who are tasked with saving the world by some of history’s greatest thinkers.
Fourteen-year-old Tyme Newton lives in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Her father, Benjamin, is president of the town’s vaguely described “mechanical engineering” factory. One day, in her father‘s office, she discovers an old wooden crate containing a first edition of Philosophæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica by her ancestor Isaac Newton. It also astoundingly contains a note, intended for his descendant, which reads, “you have come upon the beginning of a mystery.” The back of the book holds four “time crystals,” each supposedly able to power a trip back in time. Later that night, Tyme considers testing the crystals, but before she does, she remembers her Grandma Isabelle, who died three years before. Outside, a storm interrupts her thoughts, and lightning hits the O’Connells’ house across the street. Afterward, 14-year-old Zina O’Connell searches for her parents, but they seem to have disappeared. While wandering around the property, Zina finds a stone with carvings that read, in part, “To find your parents you will need… / A watch, a bulb, a brush, a kite.” Tyme and her friends Luna Edison, Avia Wright, and Olympia Van Gogh, have these things, but they have no idea of Zina’s plight. In fact, they’re beginning their own time-hopping mission. They soon receive guidance from their relatives Isaac Newton, Thomas Edison, Orville Wright, and Vincent Van Gogh, who’ve joined forces in a dimension called Intelligentsia. Only these geniuses’ descendants can stop a cosmic generator from overloading and causing Earth’s doom.
Hadden is clearly enamored with all things scientific, and she strives to instill her passion for learning and the arts in her YA readers. The resulting adventure focuses on the heroic teens’ ancestries to kick the plot into high gear, and she adds a suspenseful, four-day countdown until the electricity machine will destroy the world. The author sidesteps the typical fretting over paradoxes when her characters travel back in time, instead allowing the girls to simply have fun—as when Olympia suggests a title for her ancestor’s latest work: “Well, it’s a night sky full of stars. You know, a starry night.” Tyme’s grandfather, Henry, frequently offers complementary notes of wisdom, as when he says, “We cannot live in the future, worrying about what lies ahead, or in the past....We must live now.” Coded ciphers and puzzles add further dimension to the narrative, as the girls must solve them to discover crucial details of their mission. Even famed dictionary compiler Noah Webster makes an appearance. Hadden’s core message, however, is the importance of teamwork and humility; Tyme’s ego—and her penchant for keeping secrets—nearly undoes the group and the mission, and her poor behavior is mirrored by Isaac Newton, offering a lesson for readers of all ages. By the end, everyone on the team has her own Idea Notebook to inspire future adventures in the series.
A winsome tale with a reverence for science and the humanities.