Portal To Nowhere

Today's read was Portal 24 by Meredith Stroud.

Darin's is just a teen con-artist out on a date with his girlfriend when he's approached by a government agent who wants to recruit him. She shows him a picture. To persuade him? To scare him? Either way it can't be real because the Darius in that picture would almost certainly be dead, and he is very much alive.

Soon he realises that his mystery agent knew the future, and to save himself and his girlfriend he does the only thing he can. He joins Project Oberon, a top secret experiment that sends teens back in time to stop disasters... and not long after Darius joins, one strikes.

Ludd, evil mastermind, has used an EM weapon that could kill millions unless the team can go back and disarm it before it goes off. The only problem? Ludd knows about Oberon and will do anything to stop them. Even by testing their resolve by leaving them with no way back, and the possibility they will be lost in time.

I tried reading this book several times, and each time I've out it down in favour of something else... another book, housework, a nap. I still don't know why that was, because it has so much potential.

Considering this book is pitched at YA science fiction it is incredibly short. I don't know if the author just wanted to go for fast paced or if she thought that was all teens can cope with, but this book somewhere along the line underestimates readers.

The idea is good, and generally the book is executed... fine... it's fine... I think I'm going to say that a lot. The characters have their own little niche areas and they teach the others the basics, I don't know why I found that bit rather annoying. We know how Darius ends up there but the others only have their stories vaguely mentioned. You can see that each character has their own strong personalities but they're lacking the depth you can get from their personal histories.

I feel like this book could easily have been a hundred pages longer. A proper introduction to Project Oberon, background to the characters and more of the villain... On that last part... As he knows so much about the project you have to assume he has a source inside, but he knows more detailed things like Bianca has more fight in her... so that's when I decided Ludd was Isaac. When he missed the portal he actually got thrown somewhere else in time and now he's pissed. Maybe I'm way off, or maybe the book was so quick that I missed something really obvious about who he was... which is entirely possible.

This bit seems a bit squished in but I have to point it out and it doesn't really fit in any of the other bits... What was with that ending?! I'm not calling spoiler because we know they'll survive... it's like Scooby Doo, it's what they always do. Bad guy unconscious, they miraculously get back safe with seconds to spare... no debriefing, no "we'll send a team to lock him up", just a "get out of the machine and get better, who knows when you'll be needed again". I feel like she wanted another book after this and thought that would keep us wondering.

I am still trying to work out why this book is so short. Possibly it was for reluctant reading teens? With a lot of action it certainly gives a high interest read, but it's still not right for that bracket. I can't really pinpoint who this book is really aimed at.

I want to say fantastic things about this one because it has all the makings of a brilliant YA book but it falls short on many levels.

If you want a good book with a team of five teens going up against the clock to save people, then go and get a copy of Killer Instinct that I read the other day, that one is going to hit the spot.


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