Moving onto the 3rd Installment of the Pendragon series The Never War, was pleasantly amazing for not only does it feature a planet….sorry territory that we are very much familiar about but a territory that is also in reality is the only livable planet in the solar system (maybe the scientists would one day find more about outer space….).
Here is how the summary goes like:
Fifteen-year-old Bobby Pendragon is a loyal friend, sports star, devoted pet owner – and Traveler. Along with his uncle Press, Bobby has visited the alternate dimension of Denduron and participated in a civil war. He’s also waded through the endangered underwater territory of Cloral. Now Bobby once again finds himself thrust beyond the boundaries of time and space into a place that seems somewhat familiar: First Earth. Bobby and the Traveler from Cloral – Spader – have flumed to New York City, 1937. Against a backdrop of gangsters, swing music, and the distant sound of a brewing war, the two must uncover the evil Saint Dane’s newest plot. But is Bobby ready for the difficult choices ahead?
Before I delve into reviewing this book, i’d make one thing clear - FIRST EARTH is not any other territory as we have seen all this time but is entirely another time altogether….yes First Earth is none other than Earth in the past more preciously the time of World War II….Third Earth is the time in a distant future around the 5010s and is strangely the utopia that anybody could imagine………while Second Earth from where Bobby Pendragon comes from is actually a time in the middle.
So, Bobby after winning against Saint Dane on Cloral in the previous book now heads to First Earth this time with Vo Spader to make sure nothing that the evil shape-shifting demon does that pushes First Earth the wrong way from its ‘turning point’. So, First Earth the year 1937………yes time to take out the world history books. The 1930s and the Hindenburg are familiar to me through several other books I’ve read as well as history I’ve researched.
For all the familiarity with the time period, though, MacHale tells a fascinating and fast-paced tale. Bobby and his new best friend Spader land in the 1930s while pursuing Saint Dane. They’re immediately met by machine-gun toting thugs that try to kill them. Bobby figures out how to escape and gets Spader out as well. Spader is way out of his depth because he’s never seen anything as “technologically advanced” as the 1930s.
One of the best things about the Pendragon books is that Bobby usually gets to save the day in a down-to-earth manner. He doesn’t have any really special skills or powers that help him. At this point, he’s fifteen years old and can do what most kids that age can. This makes the series more believable in some ways, and I think it draws the Pendragon audience in a little closer.
MacHale’s sense of timing and pacing is excellent has improved much. The story moves quickly, and I got a real sense of urgency throughout the book as Bobby tries to figure out what Saint Dane is really doing. Many of the chapters end up on cliffhangers that will draw you rapidly into the next chapter. The dialogue is fantastic and sounds real in a way somebody’s personal diary sounds like. One of the other facets of the series that I really enjoy is Bobby’s friendship with Mark Dimond and Courtney Chetwynde. The closeness they share, even through Bobby’s journals, feels real.
MacHale also mixes in adult heroes with his young champion. Vincent “Gunny” Van Dyke was an excellent grown Traveler in this novel. He was kind and gentle, and guided Bobby and Spader throughout the adventure.
I did miss the world-building in this novel, but I know MacHale gets back to it in later volumes of the series. But for kids who haven’t researched the 1930s much, this should be a fun book. Also the question as to why is it that Bobby has to go fluming to other territories and save it before Saint Dane does the deed still persists…………………….the one major major plot hole this series suffers from.
Readers won’t mind the lack of character development as they’re drawn into the nonstop action, snappy dialogue, pop-culture references, and lots of historical trivia. It’s advisable to read the books in order because, although each one has a stand-alone plot, frequent references are made to previous events.