A chaotic race through time in The Flight of the Silvers

silvers2The Flight of the Silvers by Daniel Price
Blue Rider Press, 4 February 2014 (Science Fiction)*

My rating: I’d go there again!

A roller coaster ride describes this book pretty accurately. Fast-paced, twisty-and-turny, with some peaks and lulls, and ultimately extremely difficult to put down until the very last page. I’ve never read any story quite like it.

The Silvers are six seemingly ordinary people with extraordinary talents, which they only discover after being magically transported from our world to another Earth by a mysterious trio of dangerous characters. The most important aspect of the new world they find themselves in is that, due to the Cataclysm, a natural (?) disaster that occurred in New York City in the early twentieth century, time travel is possible. Not just time travel – there are several ways to manipulate time, which everyone can access through technology, but which a select group of people carry innately within themselves. The Silvers are some of these.

The characters were all unique, but at times felt a bit stereotyped, with stereotypical gender and professional roles and characteristics that describe a large part of their personalities, too. For instance, the comic artist is funny and always cracking jokes, the nurse is uptight and altruistic, the actress dramatic and flighty, the teenage girl obsessed with her weight, and the teenage genius unsympathetic and awkward. This is not to say they are two-dimensional, or only defined by stereotypical characteristics – in fact, they are generally very real, interesting characters, and I enjoyed reading through each of their perspectives as they got to know each other and learned to become a successful team.

There are four different groups of villains or opponents in the story, all wanting the Silvers dead or alive for their own purposes. One is a fellow refugee from our world, another group is composed of mysterious highly powerful individuals, a third is a group of talented individuals from the new Earth who feel threatened by the arrivals of the Silvers, and the last is the police force chasing the Silvers as they build a criminal reputation in order to survive. The combination and sheer number of opponents makes it much harder for the Silvers to reach their goal, and adds to the adventure and suspense for the reader.

The central theme around which this book is built is time. Time paradoxes, time travel, parallel universes and splitting timelines, changing the future by editing the past… It is a complex investigation into what might happen if we could manipulate time like we manipulate energy. Readers are shown not only the current timeline, but other potential timelines as well, timelines that don’t come to be as a result of the actions of the time-traveling villains, as well as the present-day choices made by the Silvers.

The author has a distracting tendency to use the verb “smirk” in situations and descriptions that don’t fit its definition – it was used so frequently I kept looking out for it, and it kept throwing me out of the story. Eventually, “leer” began to be used more than it should have been, too. Hopefully, this has been edited for the final version. Otherwise, the prose is succinct and efficient, supporting the action.

Full of action and adventure as it is, this book still felt really long. About three quarters of the way through, the pace slowed, leaving me distracted and willing to put it down. Pushing through that short section, the suspense picked up again, running right into the last few pages. The ending felt a little bit rushed and forced – as though so much had to be wrapped up at the end that it was easier just to add a sort of out-of-the-blue clue for the next in the series. Remember that scene in the new Star Trek movie where young Kirk steals his stepdad’s car, and drives it at incredible speed, right up to a canyon, before jumping off in slow motion and then scrabbling at the dirt edge before hanging over it? It felt a little like that.

Anyway, this book is well worth a read, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be back for more of this series, to find out what happens to the Silvers, and if there are any other refugees from our Earth, and if disaster can be averted again, and can the Silvers find happiness after all?

Recommended for all fans of action-packed science fiction, parallel universes, time travel and time paradoxes, and dystopians.

*eArc via NetGalley

Read-alikes

The Shining Girls is another thrilling, suspenseful novel about time-travel. This one is more of a murder mystery, and the time travel is more fantasy than science fiction. In this one, a sociopath travels through time to find his “Shining Girls”. One of them survives the encounter and begins a quest for revenge, hunting the hunter.

The Shining Girls

Obviously, if you haven’t tried The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, you should. Also about a person who gets plucked off our Earth immediately before its destruction to travel the universe, with some time travel magic thrown in, it has a markedly different feel – as opposite as you can get. If you enjoy the collision of special individuals from our Earth and their new, unimaginable lives, here’s another example.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (#1)

Have you read The Flight of the Silvers? Do you know any other books like it? Share in the comments!

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