(2016) Scott K. Andrews, Hodder & Stoughton, £13.99, trdpbk, 359pp, ISBN 978-1-444-75209-0
Injured and thrown through time, Jana and Kaz find themselves alone, back where it all started, Dora seemingly lost in time, having slipped from their grasp. That is until an older version of their once innocent seventeenth century friend, now a trained, hardened warrior appears and hauls them to safety. What has been perhaps ten minutes for they, has been four years for her; and both Kaz and Jana are wary of this new Dora. Should they trust her?
Picking up straight where the cliff-hanger of book one, Timebomb, ends, Second Lives kick starts the action from page one, engaging in a manner whereas most second titles of a trilogy series do not.
Quil, the masked unknown who desires the trio dead, is still at large, armed to the teeth and with unknown motives. Intent upon changing past and future to prevent the single biggest lost in the history of humanity, Kaz, Jana and, the new Dora embark on a journey that leaves the solid ground of Earth and lands on Mars.
Tension and emotion runs rampant as Jana and Kaz debated their trust of the new Dora, now stronger, more powerful, more knowledgeable, and keeping secrets she promises she will eventually speak. Things get tough, as their practice run in changing history digs into a past that Kaz would rather forget, his motives for their cause whispering at ulterior. And worse, when their attempt at preventing the destruction of Marsís capital turns sour.
Digging deeper into book one established lore, Scott K. Andrews twists together plot and character development in a fast paced, and an engaging read. The established characters growing individually as well as a group unit despite the recent juggle. This can be seen most prominently in the character of Kaz, as the once itching for action and excitement teenage-boy realises that this new-found ability is not all itís cracked up to be. And that with it comes burdens that he cannot alone bare, and/or escape from; jumping to spend a month or two in the past to escape the chaos of his own life and mistakes doing little to further solve the bigger issues that remain. This written development for Kaz, as he matures and better understand that which he can do, is sub-textually shown in the now hardened Dora, mirroring in the sense that we know she too has experienced, and still is, the same as him. This written and unwritten growth pushing both character and plot forward.
Andrews also uses Second Lives to write modern and currently faced issues into the future, highlighting real-world problems and their potential growth in the scarily, not too distant future. The subject of slavery and minority discrimination, and bigger issue today than it has ever been, becoming a corporate vs. people fight to prove the humanity and rights of those deemed property.
Second Lives only adds to that seen in Timebomb, expanding the novelís world, furthering character development. Showing that both, and the third to come, arenít your average, cookie-cutter Young Adult series.
See also Allen's take on Second Lives.
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