Time Bomb by Penelope Wright
Penelope Wright’s Time Bomb: Book 1 of The Collapse is a Waterworld-style dystopia with time travel, a sassy protagonist, and radiation. Typically, Rosarita Columbia only goes back in time to steal items necessary for her society’s survival, like medicine and water purification tablets. However, when her step-mother’s jealousy turns deadly, it’s her own life she must go back in time to save.
Wright’s unique take on both the science and philosophy of time travel make Time Bomb an interesting and thought-provoking read. Many time travel stories theorize that meeting one’s self in time is never a good thing, but Wright makes it impossible: here, an invisible, viscous barrier prevents Rosie from reaching her past self. Her mistakes are set in time instead of stone.
In a refreshing twist, Wright’s time travel is not machine-based; it’s chemical. The characters travel back and forth in time only – not space – through carefully calibrated chemical injections.
An action-adventure young adult novel, Time Bomb has almost no romance; instead, it highlights the love and loyalty between a father and daughter. Despite the brutal circumstances of this future, there is no gore, and without romance, no sex, so readers looking for a clean, thrilling read will appreciate this novel.
Like Rosie’s family, the cast of Wright’s novel is small. There are only a handful of people she interacts with in both the present and the past, which means fewer names for readers to keep track of. Because of the small cast, the novel feels more intimate and personal, which I appreciated.
While the story begins with a thrilling bit of time travel, the last half of chapter one and beginning of chapter two were too slow, where Wright provides a bunch of necessary but unexciting details about her dystopian world. However, it’s worth hanging on through that section because by chapter three, you won’t be able to put Time Bomb down.
Unfortunately, the novel ends on a cliffhanger, which is one of my pet peeves as a reader. I HATE cliffhangers, but Wright has managed to create what I’m going to call a soft cliffhanger: certain threads are tied up, answers are given, and realizations are made by the characters, but the main story threads continue on. While I’m not happy about this soft cliffhanger, I’m still willing to read and am looking forward to book two (which has almost never been the case before). If you hate also cliffhangers, let me know how you feel about Time Bomb’s ending in the comments.
Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. I liked Rosie’s sassy, confident approach to life and her responsibilities and the author’s twists on time travel. It’s one of those stories I continue to think about. Hopefully Wright releases Book 2 of The Collapse soon.