Nick of Time (Nick McIver, #1)by Ted Bell Published 13 May 2008
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|Publisher||St. Martin's Griffin|
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The setting is England, 1939, on the eve of war. Nick and his sister, Kate, begin gathering vital information for Winston Churchill as he tries to warn England of the imminent Nazi invasion. But the Nazis become the least of Nick’s problems after he discovers a time machine hidden in a cove. Unfortunately, the evil pirate Captain Billy Blood, who travels through time capturing little children and holding them for ransom, will stop at nothing to possess the priceless machine. With the help of Lord Hawke, whose children have been taken by Blood, Nick must fight the ruthless pirate on land and sea in two different centuries in a desperate attempt to save his home and his family from being utterly destroyed.
Book Details: Format: Paperback Publication Date: 9/1/2009 Pages: 464 Reading Level: Age 10 and Up
"Nick of Time (Nick McIver, #1)" Reviews
Nazis and Pirates and Time Travel oh my! This was one crazy book, but crazy in all the best of ways. It was really a rather fun ride. My younger self would have probably been delighted with it—as it was, I still enjoyed it (hence the four stars)!
It starts out simply enough, about a sea-loving lighthouse-keeper’s son on an English island in 1939... but then one thing adds to another, and soon there’s a mysterious chest, pirates, an eviction notice, and a dog held for ransom. As if that isn’t enough, a time machine is thrown into the mix, and soon they’ve traveled back to 1803 to help one of Nick’s ancestors win a naval battle against a fearsome pirate named Billy Blood.
Sounds interesting, yes? (And let’s not forget the part of the book that involves being trapped on a German submarine)! That part had me on the edge of my seat, because a little girl and one of my favorite characters was involved. 0_o
The cast of characters was wide and varied. Nick himself had a wonderful arc, traveling from a little boy ashamed of being afraid and longing to be a hero, to being that hero, against all odds.
Also, I enjoyed how vivid the world was, and how all the senses were used to bring me into it. (That’s the mark of a master, let me tell you.) I had a clear mental image of just about every character there, and they all had their unique roles to play. I could tell the author did a lot of research on the time period, and it paid off. The fact that all the little details and subplots were important and wrapped up nicely by the end was a plus, too.
My only critiques, really, come in the form that almost everyone in the book had spent a lot of time on the water, and therefore most everything was filtered through a nautical lens. Which is very insightful on the author’s part, but could be a little difficult if you didn’t know anything about sailing or ships. And the cast of characters was large, as I mentioned before. I came away feeling as if I barely had a handle on all of them, kind of like the first time I read a Harry Potter book. If they hadn’t all been so different, I would have gotten lost. Finally, my last gripe is due to the fact that sometimes the pacing felt a little off, and the first chapter really wasn’t that great. (Just keep reading though, it’s worth it!)
The “stuff” comes in the form of a pretty good smattering of “d—n,” British “b—y,” and “bleeding.” God was referenced frequently, but I could never get a feel for where the author stood on the matter, since He was mentioned in a lukewarm way most of the time. Not disrespectful, per se... just lukewarm. Which can be aggravating to both believers and nonbelievers. And Nick “prays” frequently to his historical hero, Nelson, Lord of the Sea, which I found odd. Several people are shot in cold blood. Also, I don’t really view this as a negative, since I actually enjoyed them due to them being well written, but there were a couple pretty intense naval battle scenes that were mostly gore-free, but I thought I should mention anyway. Someone is executed in a submarine torpedo tube minus the torpedo, but we don’t actually see it, so it’s more the thought of it than anything, and someone tests a blade’s sharpness by cutting off the tip of their own tongue and then eating it. (Dude, I know you’re a pirate, but still!! *gags*)
Altogether, it has its issues, but I thought this was a very fun adventure through time. It might be enjoyed more by an audience a little younger than myself, but it was still a unique adventure that I’m glad I was able to take part in.
This was my first novel. I wrote it when I was living in London. My daughter was in the "Fourth Form"
and was reading pretty much the YA lit of the day, i.e., R. L. Stine. Nothing wrong with those, just a
tad more formulaic than, say, Treasure Island or Huckleberry Finn. So I read "TI" again, thinking I'd recommend it to the sprout. Couldn't do it. The language was too arcane, the pacing too, not too anything, just a reflection of its time. So. I decided to write a novel in that spirit, but one with language easily grasped by contemporary readers, and a quicker pace, more tension, more highs, more action. I wanted to make this book about heroism, thinking it was in short supply at the time, at least at the YA level. Since I believe there's a hero inside every boy and girl, I made my two heroes brother and sister. Nick and Kate McIver. The movie "NICK OF TIME" with Johnny Depp was years away and I thought that title rather clever, with the eponymous Nicholas. I wanted my two personal heroes, Winston Churchill and Admiral Lord Nelson, to appear in the book as role models for the ideals I was aspiring to portray. This led, obviously enough, to time travel. I'd no idea what I was letting myself in for, but as it turned out it was a good deal of fun, figuring it out as best I could. I set the book in the Channel Islands. I had a large oil hanging in my study, a lighthouse high atop a soaring cliff, a crashing sea below, and a 19th Century merchantman being driving into the rocks of a lee shore. I decided instantly that I wanted Nick and Kate to live in that lighthouse. Villains? Well, 1939 in the Channel Islands was a tough place to be. The Nazis were about to invade, the islands were surrounded by U-boats, and HM Government decided to pull all the British troops because "the islands weren't worth defending". This was done over the very strong objections of one of my heroes. Enter Winston Churchill. So, I had time travel, I had Nazis, what else did I need? Oh, I know, PIRATES. Yes, perfect. Operating on the kitchen sink principle served me well. Enter the villainous Captain Billy Blood and his evil companion Snake Eye.
If people have half as much fun reading this book as I did writing it I'll consider it time well spent. I've written eight novels since and that thrill, that absolute immersion into that world, has never been replicated. I am proud to immodestly state that my happy little book won the Chicago Librarian's "Best of the Best" First Novel in, I think, 2003 and a heartbreakingly wonderful review in the LA Times. It's not really a YA book by the way. It's a "Family" book, just like Treasure Island. I sold the film rights to Paramount a few years later, but it never got made. I'm at it again with another studio. Cross your fingers and whistle past the Hollywood graveyard...Nick Of Time
Ted Bell's Nick of Time is part of the Alex Hawke series, Bell's line of spy adventure novels. Nick of Time is the first young adult addition to the series, and serves well as a stand alone title. I found it enjoyable without being familiar to the earlier books.
Nick of Time is an enthralling read from beginning to end. The lead character, Nicholas McIver, is alive in the 1930s, but the character is so well-written, he could fit seamlessly in any time period (and soon does). Nick is plucky, adventurous, and is rich with boyish charm and a fervent desire for heroics of that of hero, Admiral Nelson.
His sister, Kate, is just as charming and precocious. She's admiring of her brother, and the moments between the two characters were some of my favorites. The two live with their family in a lighthouse in the smallest of the Channel Islands, on Greybeard Island. Nick spends his days sailing the waters around the island, and develops a keen sense of every rock and reef surrounding them. One day, out on such an excursion, Nick discovers a mysterious chest, sent from 1805 by his ancestor, the Royal Navy's Captain Nicholas McIver. Inside Nick finds a time machine, along with a letter, and learns the Captain and his entire fleet, Nelson's men, are under attack by the treacherous Billy Blood. And he'll stop at nothing to get the time machine, a double to the one he possesses. Meanwhile, the Nazis have their submarines in English waters and are closing in.
Kate and Nick enlist the help of the Lord Alexander Hawke, and his right-hand man, Commander Hobbes. Hobbes and Kate stay behind in 1939 to warn Churchhill of the impending Nazi invasion, while Hawke and Nick travel back to 1805 to help defeat Billy Blood, who travels throughout time, kidnapping children and livestock, and holding them for ransom. It is then that Nick discovers how he truly is a hero.
Nick of Time is action-packed from start to finish. It's well-paced, with a mixture of fantasy, sci-fi, and historical fiction. Although my grasp of history isn't that impressive, the details within the novel kept me riveted, from the descriptions of Nick's encounters with his ancestor to the battle scenes, which moved quickly and weren't bogged down in gratuitous detail. The emotional content of the novel also kept me hooked, especially in a poginant scene between Nelson and Nick. Nick of Time is a young adult book, but will capture the attention of any reader with its richly drawn characters, exciting action, and tender emotion for parents, for one's country, and for family.
The adventure begins with a boy named Nick McIver a young lad who wants to set sail and adventure into the unknown. His sister, Katie, and him adventure into a shoal cave and find a mysterious treasure. Little known by them a mysterious pirate named Billy Blood seeks to find this treasure as well and even threatens Nick by capturing his dog and killing him if Nick doesn't hand over the treasure. On top of this a spy organization in which Nick's father is involved with has found signs of Nazis hiding underneath the island. Just as Nick receives the threat from Blood his father must seek a new house in London due to his involvement in the spy ring. He leaves the children with Gunner an old cannonier, after receiving the treasure the group sets off to Hawke Castle hoping to report the news of the treasure, pirates, and Nazis to Lord Hawke.
I felt that Nick of Time was a good and fun story to read in someone's free time. The beginning is quite slow due to it having to flesh out two plot lines seen towards the middle of the story. The introduction of the two different plot lines kept me wanting to find out what happens next. Ultimately I gave the book a four star rating because of the beginning keeps it from being a five star for me. If you find this book in the store or at the library, I strongly encourage picking it up and giving it a read.
Nick of Time is a science fiction novel, written by Ted Bell, and originally published on May 13, 2008. The book is set in the days leading up to World War Two. Nick McIver is a 12 year old boy living on one of the British Channel Islands, and one day, while exploring, he happens on a chest hidden in a cave. What he finds in the chest will change his life forever. Inside that chest is a piece of technology dating back to Da Vinci, which sparks an adventure spanning two centuries, involving pirates, high profile kidnapping (literally, the kidnapping of a kid), espionage, Nazis, and ancient science. The theme of good vs. evil seemed to be the primary thread of the book’s content. I really like this book because the author wove the story masterfully, and switched from character to character seamlessly. I recommend this to anyone who likes sci-fi and history. This story was beautifully written, intriguing, and eloquent, as well as thoroughly enjoyable. I couldn't put it down, and I was so excited to find out that there was a sequel, called The Time Pirate.
Ted Bell's first YA novel is chockablock* with adventurous ideas. So chockablock, in fact, that I'm afraid he put every idea he's ever had into this one story and didn't save anything for his next book. In Nick of Time, we have lighthouses, castles, underground caves, pirates, treasure chests, bilingual talking parrots, Nazis, spies, reclusive millionaires, several types of boats, experimental submarines, aeroplanes, dognapping, and a time travel device invented by Leonardo da Vinci. And that's only in the first 100 pages! All of these elements combine to make a story that is historical fiction, science fiction, mystery, spy thriller, and adventure.
I would have enjoyed this book a lot more with a more focused story. What's wrong with a simple spy thriller set in the time before the start of World War II? Or a time travel adventure to help a great-great-grandfather defeat an evil pirate? Either one would have been nice. Combining all of the ideas in one story made this feel, at times, like a parody of the various genre.
This wasn't a terrible book. I did like some of the characters enough to read to the end to find out what happened to them. But this also won't be on the top of my purchase list for my library. I wanted it to be a fantastically exhilarating read, but it just didn't quite get there for me.
On a side note, I'm really afraid that a sequel will somehow involve a Peter Pan story. I hope he doesn't go that way. There have been too many of those lately.
*Chockablock was used twice within ten pages towards the beginning of the book. The first time, I thought it was fun to see the word in use. The second time, I almost stopped reading. Luckily, he didn't use the word again. Chockablock is a word like "plethora" that needs to be used sparingly - if at all. Too frequent use of a word like that (twice within ten pages is really pushing it) and it just becomes pretentious. Of course, I’ve managed to use it four times in this review. :)