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.
This is the kind of book that makes me feel that my writing is shoddy and underwhelming (it's not really, but you get what I mean). This book ties a fantastic plot, amazing characters and heart pounding (literally!) suspense together through brilliant writing style and technique. I discovered it quite by accident when I was browsing our library's shelves - the story line looked interesting and I'd always been intrigued with time travel books (although I hate it when the characters in those books want desperately to get back to the present but they don't know how). It's a big book but I read it in just one sitting - and emerged feeling dazed (that always happens to me when I read through a new book non-stop).
There are actually two plots in Nick of Time - the 'modern day' fight against the Nazis just before WWII (taken on by two of the characters - Commander Hobbes and six-year-old Katie) and the time travel plot with Nick, Lord Hawke and Nick's best friend, Gunner (who was a pilot and then sailor in WWI). To tell you the truth, after I read this book for the first time, I've always skipped the chapters that have to do with the time travel plot (once they actually travel back in time), because the 'Nazi plot' is so edge-of-your-seatish. But the time travel plot is great as well :) It's just that the other one is better, IMO.
I love, love, love the characters in Nick of Time. My two favorites would definitely be Hobbes and Katie (which is probably why I like the modern plot better than the time travel one). I may have the teeniest bit of a literary crush on Hobbes because he's very proper, very British, rather amusing, a loyal friend and absolutely brilliant when it comes to the execution of daring plots. I like Lord Hawke a lot, though. He lost his children when they were only five and six (they didn't die - it's wrapped up in the whole time travel thing) and he's depressed about it even though it happened years ago. So he holes up in Hawke Castle, surrounds the place with an air of mystery and becomes a recluse, all the while trying to figure out how to travel through time so that he can rescue his children. Nick and Gunner are great too although in my opinion, they're even better in the sequel, Time Pirate. Billy Blood and his companion, Snake Eye are positively evil. And immensely scary (the illustrations don't help - btw, the illustrations are a.m.a.z.i.n.g.). Perfect villains.
Okay. So. The whole book is a page turner but the last few chapters are so tense and so adrenaline fueled that you will not be able to put the book down. Even after reading it about four times, I still find myself totally caught up in the drama. It's just...wow. Oh, and Lord Hawke is Winston Churchill's nephew. Just a bit of randomness there =) Read this book. You won't regret it. I promise.
It’s 1940 and the Nazis are invading Nick’s beloved home, the British Channel Islands. So Nick takes to the skies: He has discovered an old World War One fighter plane in an abandoned barn. Determined to learn to fly, he is soon risking life and limb to photograph armed German minelayers and patrol boats, and executing incredibly perilous bombing raids over Nazi airfields by night.
Meanwhile, the evil pirate, Captain Billy Blood, still desperate to acquire Nick’s time machine, returns to Greybeard Island. He kidnaps Nick’s sister, Kate, and transports her back to Port Royal, Jamaica, in the year 1781, leaving Nick a message that if he wants to see her alive again, he must come to Jamaica and make an even swap: Kate’s life in exchange for Nick’s wondrous time machine—that’s Blood’s bargain.
I read Time Pirate only a few days ago after learning that there actually was a sequel to Nick of Time. Since I liked the first book so much, I (naturally) had really high hopes for the second one and I was not disappointed. There's a lot more of Nick and Gunner in this book (and a lot less of Lord Hawke and Hobbes) and I liked them a lot better the second time around, so to speak.
There were quite a few differences in this book from the previous one - the author jumped around a lot more with the points-of-view (which I didn't mind - but it was a bit confusing at first), there weren't really two separate plots (I appreciated the whole time travel angle a lot more) and I could just tell that the plot/characters/technique had matured.
A few random things I thought I should mention: One thing I really liked was that Hobbes made an exact replica of the Tempus Machina (Nick's time machine) to fool Billy Blood with. For some reason, I loved that plot point. There was a new character introduced in this book (for the life of me, I can't remember her name - her code name is 'Flower', though) - she's a spy and she helps Nick hide out from the Nazis one time. I liked how she buttered up the Nazi commandant and got information from him (I love spy stories). And this is really random...Nick and Katie and Gunner are caught by Blood and they're going to be executed and they're taken to the guillotine (although they don't die - it happens early in the story, so I didn't think that was a spoiler). And, you know, I'm sort of interested in the French Revolution, so I liked (?) that little touch.
There was one thing that I found a bit unbelievable (besides the whole concept of time travel) - Nick is only thirteen and he flew his dad's plane and wreaked havoc on a Nazi air base. He just seemed so young. Other than that, I really enjoyed this book (especially since it gave me an emotional experience - like the first one) and I would highly recommend it. I think it could be read as a stand-alone because the prologue backtracks a bit about the first book. Oh, any American history buffs will enjoy Time Pirate because the time travel plot is all about the American Revolution :)