Saturday, March 23, 2013

Review: Caught - Margaret Peterson Haddix

Caught by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Series: The Missing #5
Genre: Middle Grade, time travel, alternate history
Published on September 4, 2012
Published by Simon & Schuster
Pages: 352
Read From: 3.17.13 - 3.18.13

Jonah and Katherine are sitting in class when time freezes. Everyone, everywhere in the twenty-first century is frozen in time - except for those who have traveled in time before. Something is catastrophically wrong, but what, and how can they fix it? Jonah and Katherine barely have a second to talk to JB before they find themselves hurtling back in time again. They end up in 1903, where a botched job of returning Albert Einstein's secret daughter, Lieserl, has somehow critically damaged time itself. 

Jonah and Katherine have their work cut out for them, working to set right a problem they can't understand. And there's another wrinkle in their plans: Even though the Elucidator has made them invisible, Lieserl's mother, Mileva Einstein, seems to have caught on to their presence and their plans. And she is determined not to let them take her daughter.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? Yes. The person doesn’t bother me because you can’t discern any details. The train is awesome (though not horribly relevant to the plot), the color is awesome - it’s an awesome cover.

Characters: Jonah has always been a favorite protagonist in this series. His sister may get onto him for not really thinking things through that might disrupt the time line, but he really is an intelligent, resourceful, and fast-thinking kid. Katherine, his sister, is all right. She’s also quick and intelligent, but her rants against racism and sexism get old. Granted, it gives her a believable personality, but it still grows tiresome after a time. Though JB is hardly ever in the books, for various reasons, I still somehow manage to actually have an opinion about him, and it’s a positive one. For the short scenes he is present, he makes his personality known, and I sympathize the difficult decisions he has to make, as a time agent. Mivela was pretty awesome, too, and I would like the believe that that is what she was like in reality. Very smart, understanding, and loyal. I hope she might make an appearance in a later book, but knowing how these stories go, sadly she won’t.

The Romance: There isn’t any!

Plot: Time has come to a standstill, and it has to do with the warped time line involving Einstein’s life. JB is unable to lend Jonah and Katherine any assistance, so it’s up to them - and them alone - to fix it. And as usual, they manage to lose the ever-handy Elucidator. If one looks at the basic structure of The Missing books, one will notice that each story has pretty much the same beginning. My opinion of the series went down with Book Three - Sabotaged, - but then it went back up with Torn. And Caught hasn’t altered it. The basic premises might be the same, but the story is still exciting, and I wanted to see what difficulties Jonah and Katherine were going to face in this new time period. It wasn’t disappointing, though it was perhaps not the most exciting installment. I almost preferred it that way, to be honest.

Believability: I don’t know a whole lot about Einstein’s early life - before he became really famous. I know even less about Mivela. But the lengthy Historical Note in the back leads me to believe that the Author did quite a bit of research, and the facts certainly seemed to me correct, from what little I know.

Writing Style: The style for this series has always been fitting for it’s type of story. Jonah and Katherine are from modern times (at least, Jonah has grown up in modern times and therefore knows no differently), so the modern flair is needed to make them believable. At the same time, the historical figures are more fitting for their time period, while not exactly perfect (this is a kids’ book, after all). And all of the time travel technical stuff actually sort of makes sense, if it were plausible.

Content: None.

Conclusion: For a story with time standing still, the conclusion isn’t as urgent as one might expect. The solution isn’t simplistic, but it’s not as difficult as I was anticipating. And then it ends pretty much the same way as the other books: things are fixed for now, JB pays Jonah a visit, warning him that he should enjoy his life while he can, because things are getting worse. And then Jonah does just that. On one hand, I don’t really like the predictability of it, but on the other, it also makes each book a self-contained adventure, so you can go a long time in between books without forgetting what’s important. For someone who has a lot of books to read, that’s rather nice.

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-boy read, any age really (eight to thirteen is probably the ideal range), good for fans of time travel, or even The 39 Clues.

Others in The Missing Series:

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