Entertaining, plot-driven YA sci-fi that blends time travel with ethics and humor.
Joshua Fox is a bright kid, but lately, school has been one big bore. Plus, it’s just Josh and his mom trying to make ends meet, which means no extra funds for a school more tailored to Josh’s academic and social needs. So when Miss Agnes shows up at the Foxes’ front door, offering a free ride at the Conservancy, an idyllic boarding school on a rambling estate, Josh and his mother are intrigued. As they’re led on a tour around the school by Becca, a pretty fellow student, Josh and his mother begin to sense something amiss among the leafy gardens, well-appointed stables and impressive buildings. One teacher is particularly odd, becoming especially pushy to Josh and his mom when they decide to turn down the school’s offer. Things start to get really creepy when Josh wakes up groggy in his dorm room at the Conservancy with no memories of either accepting the offer or moving in. His classes are equally strange: The lessons consist of reading Wikipedia pages out loud, and many of Josh’s classmates seem exceptionally out of place—and time. Unsupervised interaction with other students is prohibited, and those who have tried to leave have been punished in temporally creative ways (dinosaurs make an imaginative appearance). In his own attempts to escape, Josh begins to uncover a plot that will change not only the future but the present and the past. Escurel takes on the time-travel/sci-fi genre with aplomb, adding some light philosophy perfect for young and even teenage readers looking for a bit of thought-provocation in their fast-paced, inventive fiction. While occasionally Escurel relies too heavily upon exposition to flesh out the plot and further the action, the dialogue is sharp and believable, and the descriptions are concise and effective.
Suspenseful, efficiently written YA.