Time-travel fiction has a long, storied past, from early classics such as Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889) and H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine (1895) to the Back to the Future and Terminator films. But, time after time, writers come up with new, creative spins on the idea, particularly in YA. Here are a few standouts that Kirkus Indie reviewed in the past year:
Authors often use time-travel plots to critique past societal norms. In One Way or Another, the latest book in Annette Laing’s YA series, three modern Georgia teens go back in time to 1906, where they witness the era’s racism and sexism firsthand as well as people trying to make positive changes. Kirkus’ reviewer called it a “consistently challenging” series installment, noting that Laing’s “command of historical details is formidable throughout.”
In Todd McClimans’ YA series entry Time to Heal, young Kristi finds a gravestone that indicates that Ty, her time-traveling companion who stayed in 1858 by choice, died as a Union Army surgeon. She decides to use a time machine to try and save him despite the dangers that face an African-American girl in the Civil War era. Kirkus’ reviewer found the novel “compelling,” noting that it “isn’t afraid to dive into the grittiness of the period—the political divisions that tear communities apart, the horrors of warfare…yet it also manages to remain lively and fun.”
In Kathryn Berla’s YA novel Dream Me, a 17-year-old finds out that the handsome teenage boy in her dreams is actually real. It turns out that he’s from the far future and projecting himself into her mind as part of a dangerous mission. “The final twist isn’t easy to see coming,” say Kirkus’ reviewer, “and it gives the novel a satisfying, well-earned ending.” David Rapp is the senior Indie editor.