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Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Doomsday Box (The Shadow Project #2) by Herbie Brennan

When the CIA created a program to research time travel in the 1940s, they never imagined it could lead to a global pandemic decades later. But after an undercover agent, code name Cobra, exploits the time-travel operation to send the black plague into the twenty-first century, the supernatural teen spies of the Shadow Project are recruited to go back in time to Cold War-era Russia and prevent this devastating chain of events from occurring.

There's just one problem: How do four teenagers deter a seasoned CIA agent from his life-or-death mission? Michael, Danny, Opal, and Fuchsia, a new agent with mysterious abilities, will have to use their powers of astral projection—and persuasion—to convince Cobra that what's at stake could hit closer to home than he can imagine. That is, if they can even manage to survive in Moscow in the early 1960s, where the KGB wants them dead. . . .

Released: December 28th 2010          Pages: 336
Publisher: Balzer + Bray                    Source: won through an Inkpop weekly challenge

Time travel books are just so much fun.  I'm fascinated by the concept, and the questions that go along with it.  The time paradox (if you go back in time and kill your grandmother, do you still exist?).  Things like that. 

And in that regard, I really enjoyed this book.  The plot was tight and full of suspense.  I kept turning pages because I genuinely wanted to know how it would end.  It was quick, with twists and turns.

But despite my enjoyment of the plot, the characters did absolutely nothing for me.  The only things I really knew about them were a few tidbits of backstory information.  What kind of personalities did they have?  I have no idea.  I got the vague impression that Fuchsia is a bit quirky.  Other than that, everyone was flat.  The POV chapters gave me no distinction between the characters' voices. 

Along with that, this book missed some good opportunities for moral conflict.  Agent Coulson  Mr. Carradine wants Danny to kill Cobra, if necessary.  Okay.  Danny talks this over with the team, and they're all "No, that's stupid.  Dump the poison down the drain."  Even though Danny kind of agrees with Carradine, he doesn't argue at all and they dump the cyanide and that's that.  So...we aren't going to argue about this?  We're not going to take along the only thing that can absolutely guarantee the success of our mission?  And Carradine doesn't even care that if Cobra dies, he won't exist?  Or would he still exist?  Why doesn't anybody even ask that question? 

Also, I fail to understand why the CIA would want to use teenagers for this kind of mission.  The book's reason is that "they have open minds".  But apparently because they're the CIA they don't have to worry about getting into trouble for endangering the lives of teenagers.  And let's not brief them at all about how to behave in the 1960s, because of course they don't need that, even if it does make total sense.  And apparently Michael (who is black) has absolutely no reaction to experiencing segregation. He's very "yeah, whatever" about the whole thing. 

Overall, the plot was compelling, but the characters were completely flat and there were a few things that made no sense.  Three stars.  If I'm going to be honest here, the most fascinating part of this entire book was the author's note at the end.

Similar Books: It deals with time travel like Found and TimeRidersIt has the action-novel feel of Michael Vey.
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