Firstly and as is typical it must be noted that I didn't pay for this book; the author approached me about it on GoodReads and asked me for an opinion. Despite the kindness of a free book I give my candid opinions below. Also, since this is a children's book it should be noted that I approach the review from a different viewpoint, focusing on appropriateness for young readers and general coherence and execution.
On the question of appropriateness for young readers, this book has done marvelously. In general I scowl at any children's book that contains sexual or drug content and this novel contains neither problem. It does have some light violence but nothing that kids won't have picked up from any mainstream cartoon. In the vein of profanity I don't tend to judge harshly but this novel even avoids that problem and does so in a clever and entertaining way that's consistent with the general story line. Dukes' novel is as pure as the driven snow and somehow still remains very real and entertaining. It doesn't SEEM sanitized but through some miracle of authorship it really is.
Stepping back and speaking more generally about the novel, the author has provided a brilliant and witty take on what is, I'm am sure, a standard daydream of every young person. Our protagonist has ultimate and unlimited freedom but what happens when suddenly he doesn't? What tangled complications await in a world with no responsibility and limitless possibilities? In addition to its tendency to provoke deep contemplation, the writing style is witty and made even me, a perennial curmudgeon, laugh aloud in spots. The writer has found that intangible balance between teaching the reader something and entertaining them at the same time. Any teen will stumble upon a hoard of new words begging to be looked up in the dictionary and probably spare at least a few cycles for the complexities of causality and consequences of seemingly simple actions. That lesson is worth the price of admission.
In summary, this one was a rare treat. After a long recent string of losers, 'Caught in a Moment' is just the sort of book I'd want my own kids to read. Clean, erudite and with a moral or two hidden in spots for those who will only seek.
What would you do if time stood still? For fifteen year old Alex Trueman, this is exactly what happens. Dukes wastes no time in introducing Alex's amazing ability, leading us into his first brief 'moment', just a couple of pages in. In the first two chapters, Alex has fun with this new ability, exacting comical revenge on the school bullies, although he begins to realise that getting time going again isn't quite as easy; and by chapter three, he is 'caught in a moment'...
The world of Intersticia, and the motionless world of Statica which sits all around it, are described in such tremendous detail that you feel you are there with the equally well-described characters. This is one of those books that if you read a chapter or two before bed, you suddenly find you've been up most of the night. There are endless possibilities for sequels featuring new characters entering 'Sticia, or maybe a prequel telling how Ganymede's ended up where he is.
I enjoyed this story immensely, but am left with one lingering, niggling question – why do the manatees and dugongs fly?
Science fiction is usually the section in a book shop which I avoid; however though this book would technically fall into the science fiction category, it was not an over indulgent utopia of an author afraid of reality. This book is the conglomeration of a well constructed, mildly-fantastical world and carefully built, believable characters, which really made it rather addictive. It's not a long book and it certainly did not take long to read as the plot kept me wanting to turn the pages (or clicking the page forward button on the kindle anyway...though it doesn't have quite the same ring to it). A very well spent £1.95 in my opinion. I think quite a wide range of ages and personalities could enjoy this book...but it's definately a must for young boys who daydream!
Ever wondered what would happen if time stopped (as in freeze framed)? where everyone and everything around you became immobile in that split moment? This is a wonderfully written story of a teenage lad who finds himself in such a world and where he meets some others in the same situation along with some rather unusual characters too. The story is beautifully crafted, the plot lines are well woven and I love the ideas and quirky humorous technology moments thrown in for good measure. super enjoyable, reading it made me also remember what being at school was like, when one daydreamed of being able to slip out of everyday from reality.
I was contacted by the author and sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I actually had this book sitting on my pile for about a month, it came through but what with doing NaNoWriMo and some blog tours it got neglected (sorry Martin!) As December came through and I had completed my NaNo, i picked this up. I will admit, I like the clocks on the cover but the colours don't stand out much and the angel statue on the front reminds me a bit of the crying angels from Doctor Who which is a bit freaky but this just shows that you can't judge a book by it's cover. I started it in my lunch break at work on Saturday and read about a hundred pages, I went out in the evening so had to finish it today (Sunday). I was surprised how much I got into this book actually, before I started I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. I started to read and Alex's pranks in 'stopped time' reminded me a lot of an old TV show I used to watch called 'Bernard's Watch' and it made me smile, the novel soon moves on to a more 'serious' scenario as you are introduced to Intersticia. This is one of those books that if you think too hard about it, it makes your head hurt, the physics and logic behind the multiple levels of time and how it all works, but if you just read the book and embrace what you have got it's actually very enjoyable. Things are explained well and I didn't get too confused which is good. Alex at first is one of those cheeky guys, not so much a trouble maker but likes to have fun. He reminded me so much of some boys I knew at school, as the story progresses you really see him grow up and develop as a character which was nice to see. I really liked meeting all the people in the story, such a great mix of personalities. I didn't like Kelly much to start with but she softens and grows on you too. I loved the jinx put on Paolo so everytime he tries to swear he shouts the name of a vegetable - made me laugh. I did guess at the big mystery at the end linked to one of the characters, as I assumed there was more of a point to an earlier event but it was well written and not quite how I expected so it kept me hooked. I didn't particularly like Ganymede as a character but without being completely evil etc he actually makes quite a good 'baddie'. More sort of skin crawling - I want to slap him sort of baddie.
I have been informed that this will be a trilogy and I must admit that I really do want to know what happens next. It could be read as a stand alone, but I'm curious enough to want to know more. There are some things left open and un-answered that I want to find out. So I will be looking out for the next installment.
Well worth a read, it offers a unique look into a different world and will make you question how much time you spend daydreaming! :D
***I received the paperback as a review copy from the author in exchange for an honest review***
I admit that I have a thing for books that involve/focus on varied use of time, whether it’s stopping it or backtracking etc. So when I saw this book in a goodreads giveaway I just had to have it! Then goodreads decided to be a pain in the ass and give it to someone else, but all was not lost because after chatting to Martin Dukes I have my very own signed copy! (I have now forgiven goodreads).
It is everything I thought it would be; aka great. The writing is so fluent and engaging that from the get go you are engrossed in the characters stories. I think this is always an accomplishment for an author because when you use the first few chapters as an introduction to the characters personalities, and don’t dump the reader straight into the action, personally I’ve found that the book can lose my attention before it even begins. Thankfully this wasn’t the case with Caught in a Moment and the light humour was just as entertaining as the action further on.
There were of course times when what I thought was supposed to be jokes (flying seals/whales… you can’t blame me) ended up being vitally important to the story, and actually it all made sense as you found out more about Intersticia over the course of the novel. “Intersticia” is a world trapped between two instants, an “interstice”, and this is where our protagonist Alex has been deserted.
After figuring out his power to stop time he of course has a little fun with it. Humiliating the school bullies and confusing the teachers is I think what we’d all do if we could stop time ourselves, I know it’s only the tip of the iceberg of what I’d do. So Dukes captures the essence of teenagers perfectly and Alex turns out to be a highly relatable and simply great character with a vivid personality that leaps of the page.
The ending was a very abrupt finish for the characters and while this may have been the idea, a little epilogue wouldn’t have hurt… I did love its finish though, because Dukes stuck with his story and characters; he didn’t try to over dramatize it like some authors think they need to just because it’s the end.
As a standalone it was appropriate and while I wouldn’t say no to a sequel, it was satisfying so I’ll have to make do with reading any other books of his.
Wait, wait, wait.
Looking up his other books I found that Caught in a Moment is not indeed a stand-alone but the start of a trilogy! I can’t believe I read the whole book and didn’t realise once! Anyway, I can’t wait to read this ground-breaking sequel called “Worm Winds of Zanzibar” (even just the name has me intrigued). But back to Caught in a Moment, well, I think it’s safe to say I recommend it!
Imagine if when you were idly daydreaming you suddenly realized that everything around you had stopped. That you were now caught in a time between moments. This is the world that Martin Dukes creates. Alex Trueman is a 15 year old boy who ends up in this moment. The existence he finds is surreal and full of oddities. Who knew that manatees could fly. I will be honest this book wasn't an easy read .I spent the first few pages unsure of whether I was going to like it or not. Dukes is not shy about showing off his flair for language. He has a singular knack for threading words together into intricate descriptions that tend toward the grandiose. They are beautiful, but sometimes a bit distracting. Pair this with the rather indirect storytelling method and the reader must pay close attention. I personally enjoyed this challenge. This is not a book for light, turn your brain off, spread it over a few weeks reading. It is an intense read. It is also set in England and as such has some turns of phrase and ideas that require a second glance from an American to truly get. Luckily I am married to a Englishman and had some 2nd hand experience with some of these cultural concepts. The story in and of itself is fascinating. I have read a lot of books and have never come across this story line before - or anything really similar. A world existing within ours and yet separate. A world where time as we understand it has no meaning. Peopled with people who aren't even sure how or why they are there. I enjoyed discovering the quirks and realities of the realm as much as the character driven storyline itself. As you discover more about how this moment world is created you are also forced to reevaluate how you feel about the characters you have already met and most likely formed a like or dislike for. As this supposed to be part of a trilogy, I am looking forward to the next book. Hopefully Dukes will delve deeper into the realms he hinted at and briefly introduced in this book. This is an intriguing and mentally stimulating book. It was nice to come across a book that did not hide that it would require you to think and work for the reward of the great story it is. As I said this is not a casual read and there is nothing wrong with that.
I was provided a free copy of this book for the purpose of reviewing it.
Well-written with virtually no errors at all, which is an absolute rarity nowadays, I found it incredibly hard to put this book down. The story is incredibly imaginative, unique and highly entertaining and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to readers of all ages.
I liked it. I am not sure if the main character was artificially infantilised at the start in order to get two more books out of the series. I hope not, but he does seem too young at the start which would have been great had the story emphasised him maturing over the course of events; but it does not. This book really ought to be a stand-alone novel or a long short-story, with no sequel. It is well developed and had good direction to its conclusion which is very rare in any time-conundrum novel. If I could have given it four and a half out of five I would have done.
I was recommended this book on the advice that it had been written by a local author. And I must say I was extremely impressed. It started out in the very familiar territory of English high schools, yet quickly transported me (the reader) into a gripping new dimension. A must for fans of science fiction, this book explore principals such as time travel without making them too complicated. Readers off all ages would enjoy this book, I know this as I gave my Grandad a copy and he simply couldn't put it down. Would definitely recommend this book to anybody. Thumbs up!