Author: Eva St John
I read book 4 of this time travel series, which was as lovely as the other books. The story flows naturally and the book is an easy read since one already knows the characters and the story. You can read the previous reviews here here and here
This book focuses on the shattered timeline, as the title of the book suggests, meaning that the timeline has been shattered due to attacks from quantum creatures described in the previous book. The only person who can save it is Neith but she is confined to the hospital bed unable to speak whilst one of the traitors from the previous book, who tried to take over Alexandria, Quantum facility and fundamentally change the Alpha Earth is hidden in plain sight due to a clever trick which means that nobody on Alpha Earth remembers who is the enemy. The only one who does is Neith because she was injured in the last book and thus not subjected to forgetting the truth. Julius now must work with Cleo, the enemy from previous books together to unpick the language Neith speaks so they time travel, as odd allies, across history to recover an ancient Welsh language to understand Neith and save her from a deep sleep and a clear pathway to the enemy who now serves the pharaoh and has a status of a national hero to continue to take over Alpha planet.
What is particularly interesting here is the notion of censorship and religion. People on Alpha are not religious, but this is being considered following quantum creature attacks (labelled as Gods and St John has indeed used mythological characters) and now, all of a sudden, they can watch sci-fi programmes from Beta and various forms of popular culture. Interestingly, such an advanced society as Alpha does not have access to these form of the programme, which have such a massive following on our planet and is a form of sub-culture. I thought this was thought-provoking and interestingly narrated because it opens the question of censorship and freedom. If Alpha can only be technologically advanced because of rational, scientific thinking, does this mean any forms of interpretation should be banned? Any form of opinion that does not get deduced from science? Whilst I subscribe to evidence-based opinions only, I wondered here whether this is truly limiting creativity. Do we need to have people who disagree with us, because of whichever reason to progress and be inventive and creative? Do we need creativity in science? The way this is portrayed here is that this form of behaving results in more theories rather than just following deduction because on Beta there is a theory of multiple universes, whereas, as we learnt in the previous book and this one tackles that too, this way of thinking is banned on Alpha so how do you discover new things if you are not even allowed to think about them and discuss new ideas?
Another interesting aspect was one of two English princes, Edward and Richard, who historically disappeared from the Tower of London in 1483 where they were imprisoned. St John interpreted this historical puzzle through time travellers saving children, thus opening ethical questions because there is a description of Beta with princes disappearing as the history suggests as well as a scenario in which they manage to escape the tower and the consequences this brings to Beta planet because of a shattered timeline. I really enjoyed this part and the frantic time travel from Julius and Clio to restore the timeline. I also enjoyed thinking of the ethical implications of saving children versus allowing history to progress as it has always been. It reminded me of a debate on killing a baby Hitler to prevent the Holocaust and the moral dilemma of what it would mean to kill a baby rather than trying to change history, as well as a dilemma about whether history should be changed in this way. The author tackles ethical dilemmas in the book, which are well-studied in ethics and are mainly debated in the context of utilitarianism and deontological approaches. These ethical parts were fab.
Overall, this book continues in the same manner as previous books, thus continuing the story and the narrative whilst also opening some interesting ethical and scientific questions. I absolutely loved this part, much more so than the previous one for example, albeit arguably, I always feel I like the next book more than the previous one, which says a lot. I am sorry there is just one more book left, which says it all. Read this if you like time travel, parallel universe and fantasy accompanied by some interesting questions that give you food for thought.
Thank you for reading!