Friday, December 6, 2013

Time Crashers: Fire on the Mountain

When I was in junior high, one of my favorite types of books to read was the "pick your own adventure" books. In these types of stories, when the main character would come to a crossroad and was forced to make a choice, I got to decide what that choice would be.  Time Crashers; Fire on the Mountain is exactly that type of book.

This is the second book in what I hope is going to become a successful series by H. Michael Brewer. In the series, Dr. Benton Conway has created a time machine which has taken him back in time. His son Ethan learns to use the time machine and discovers the machine has been programmed to only make 33 time travels. Ethan gets his two friends, Jake and Spencer, to travel with him as they look to find Ethan's father somewhere in time.

In Fire on the Mountain, Ethan's time travel takes him and his friends back to the day before Mount Vesuvius explodes, destroying the city of Pompeii. The three boys become separated and begin a series of adventures that introduce them to some shady characters, men who show true bravery, and Christians who must meet in secret or pay the penalty of being a believer in those days.

Do they find Ethan's father? Do they escape Pompeii before Mount Vesuvius erupts? I'll let you choose your own adventure to find out.

What I Like: I loved being able to determine the direction the story would take me. Some of the story lines ended in surprising ways. As someone who loves history and seeing it accurately used in fiction, I loved that the different references to Pompeii and things the boys were seeing were given historical backing at the end of the book in a section entitled "The Real Deal."

I also liked the activities this book had throughout that reinforced what had just been read. Some activities were Scriptural and asked for the reader to use a code to discover a verse dealing with an attitude we should have as Christians. Other activities were historically based. For example, after discussing some of the graffiti found on the walls of Pompeii, the reader is asked to write a message about Jesus on a page in the book made to look like a wall.

What I Dislike: The book is written in the present tense which would occasionally throw me off.

Also, at one point in the story, Ethan is asked a question about the God he prefers to worship. Knowing that claiming to be a Christian could result in death, he answers, "The Son." The hearer responds, "The sun god Apollo. Always a good choice." The conversation is left at that. I understand that Ethan technically answered honestly, and he allowed the hearer to imply her own meaning. In that situation, who knows what any of us would actually answer, but it left me wondering. 

Overall Rating: Excellent

Age Appeal: 8-12

Publisher Info: Legacy Press, 2013; ISBN 10: 1-58411-145-3 ISBN 13: 978-1-58411-145-0; paperback, 200 pgs.

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