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Timeless: Diego and the Rangers of the…

Timeless: Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic

by Armand Baltazar

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Showing 4 of 4
Literary Merit: Good
Characterization: Great
Recommended: Highly recommended
Level: Advanced Middle School/Early High School

I decided to read this book on the advice of a fellow member of ROYAL, who told me it was a fast-paced read with beautiful illustrations. This book certainly didn't disappoint in either area! I have some mild complaints with the writing style, but overall I really enjoyed this book, despite the fact that I'm nowhere near its intended audience age. Were it not for the gorgeous full-color illustrations, I would've probably rated this book a four. With them, however, Timeless becomes an incredibly unique and creative venture into the world of middle grade fiction.

Timeless, the first in a planned series, follows a young boy named Diego Ribera. Though he has just turned thirteen, Diego is no ordinary boy. Not only was he born into a post-apocalyptic future, where time periods have collided and people from every era have been forced together onto a drastically changed planet, but Diego has also been born with an incredible gift. Like his world-renowned engineer father, Diego possesses a mysterious power known to his father as the "Maker's Sight," which allows him to easily repair or re-configure any piece of technology he touches. On the day of his thirteenth birthday, Diego agrees to help his dad with a very special project... until everything goes very wrong.

When Diego's dad (and several other well-known engineers) is kidnapped by the leader of a dangerous group known as the Aeternum, it is up to Diego and his new friends (Lucy, Petey, and Paige) to bring them back safely. After teaming up with a small band of pirates, the four teens soon learn that their entire world could be at stake if they fail. Equal parts pirate adventure and sci-fi thriller, Timeless is a thrill to read from beginning to end.

I'll begin with the few things I didn't like about this book, as I'd like to end this review on a positive note. Though this novel was written for an audience of middle grade readers, the writing didn't feel as good as it could have been at times. While the characters were wonderful, the plot sometimes felt rushed and stilted, with characters arguing and making up in ways that felt forced rather than genuine. This happens especially frequently between Diego and Lucy, who get into what seem like silly arguments and then make up three pages later. Some of these felt pointless, and could've been cut to focus on more important things. Similarly, Paige and Diego's inevitable reconciliation also felt rushed, and I would've rather seen their friendship developed than sit through three more arguments between our potential love interests.

Because this book is intended for middle grade readers, it also struck me as odd that the author sometimes used such sophisticated and complex language. Between the scientific jargon and the SAT-level vocabulary words, I felt that it might be frustrating for a reluctant reader to get through parts of this book. This is all the more concerning when you flip through and see dozens of beautiful illustrations, which could lead a reluctant reader to assume the book will be easier to read because it contains pictures. While this book was a fairly quick read for me, I tried to look at it from the point of view of a struggling middle school reader, and I could easily see the language being a problem for those who like graphic novels.

That being said, this book would be an excellent choice for fans of graphic novels who would prefer a more challenging book, as this is an excellent level up from most other books that feature full-page illustrations.When reading the author's note at the end, it seems that the author was inspired by classics such as Treasure Island and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. While I haven't read either title, I was also reminded of these classic adventure tales, and loved the idea of bringing this type of adventure to modern audiences. And, while the language is difficult, it's likely nowhere near as difficult as classic literature for a middle grade audience, making it far more accessible to modern audiences.

I also have to gush about the setting, which struck me as being incredibly creative and imaginative. I could easily tell that the author works for Pixar, as his imagination seems well-suited to coming up with the next Pixar film. I'm almost sad this hasn't become a mainstream Disney or Pixar film, as I think it's unique visual style makes it perfect for the big screen. As Baltazar explains in his author's note, however, he wanted to write and illustrate a book that feels like a film, which this certainly does. I couldn't imagine trying to listen to it as an audio-book, as it seems like this novel is meant to be viewed as much as it's meant to be read.

Sprinkled throughout the book are also highly important moral questions and social issues, such as prejudice and the clash between modern and old-fashioned values. Though this might not be something most kids would pick up on an initial reading, I thought it was important to showcase the diversity of this cast of characters. Ajax is perhaps the most stunning example of this, as a former slave who earned his freedom in the new post-apocalyptic world. His story helps to frame Paige's story, showing that while things are certainly better, even the apocalypse hasn't been enough to entirely wipe away prejudice from the world. Lucy, being a girl from a time when women's rights were heavily restricted, mirrors Siobhan's journey, learning that women in this society are capable of far more than they are often given credit for. These are incredibly important messages to give to young readers, as they teach us something about the world while taking us on a thrilling adventure where dinosaurs interact with robots.

While I think the steampunk vibe of this book will appeal to boys, I also think there's quite a bit here for girls to enjoy as well. There are just as many strong female characters in this story as there are males, and I think there's a character for every kid to relate to in this story. The cast is diverse, and the gorgeous illustrations are sure to catch the eyes of those who enjoy graphic novels (especially graphic novels involving dinosaurs, robots, and pirates!). I would recommend this book to fans of movies like Treasure Planet, as it twists classic adventures stories into a cool new steampunk setting with unique and memorable art. This book would also appeal to fans of classic adventure novels like those written by Jules Verne, as this novel follows the structure of a coming-of-age tale with fantasy elements.

Though it had a few flaws, Timeless was overall an incredibly enjoyable and beautiful piece of work. The characters were well-written, the setting was creative and unique, the world-building was strong, and the illustrations were absolutely breath-taking. I'm glad that this is only part one in a series, as I can't wait to see where Baltazar plans to take these characters next. I will certainly be adding a copy of this book to our library's collection, and will heavily advertise it to any middle grade readers in search of a thrilling adventure that reads like a graphic novel. ( )
  SWONroyal | Apr 1, 2018 |
Book review by Justin age 10

In chapter 1, Diego has a dream that he has a gravity board then he chases a girl on another gravity board. That's only a dream. On his birthday he actually gets a gravity boar, then his dad gets taken by the Aeterhum. He ends up on a pirate ship with his new friends named Page and Lucy. The captain gave Petey and Diego, Page and Lucy's duties on the ship. He also finds a rusty old tablet. Then they sailed to an island and Diego let Lucy fly Diego's moms gravity board. Lucy tries to fly the gravity board then goes so fast that Diego has to go after her then, dinasaurs try to eat Diego. The End.

I recommend this book to everybody and for the school library.

Illustrations are unbelieveable ( )
  Carolibrarian | Dec 6, 2017 |
In a story of a shattered world, beautiful art and wonderful ideas are seamlessly melded together.

An unusual book design in that the images themselves are narrative - they don't illustrate events in the text, they tell new parts of the story. ( )
  rakerman | Nov 14, 2017 |
Armand Baltazar's Timeless: Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic is a vividly imaginative tale that covers so many great story points that in my opinion, it defies to be categorized into one genre. With elements of time travel mixed with robots, dinosaurs, steampunkery, and pirates, characters from the past, present, and future, this book has a little bit of everything. The action grabs you fairly quickly and never really lets up, yet it doesn't feel overly done. Baltazar keeps the pace exciting, but not at the expense of his characters' development. While it did seem that the kids went very quickly from not knowing one another and not necessarily liking one another to a fairly tight knit group, beyond that they seemed like fully fleshed out characters by the end of the book.

The star of this book is the artwork. While the ARC provided black and white illustrations only, even these are breathtaking in their scope, and I can hardly wait to see what the full color package is going to look like. I'm sure it is going to be mesmerizing.

Baltazar has created quite the unique piece of literature/art and I'm thoroughly looking forward to what his imagination cooks up in the future. ( )
  tapestry100 | Oct 10, 2017 |
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"In a world where past, present, and future have collided, Diego and his friends must rescue Diego's father from an evil group of renegades, otherwise their whole existence is threatened"--

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