Thursday 9 September 2010

Review: Day of Deliverance by Johnny O'Brien (A Jack Christie Adventure)

The second Jack Christie adventure finds our schoolboy hero travelling back in time to foil the plot to assassinate Elizabeth I. Meeting famous figures such as Marlowe and Shakespeare along the way, Jack and Angus must thwart the Revisionists and protect Queen Elizabeth’s throne.

322 days ago I created The Book Zone. The first review I wrote on that very same day was for Day of Assassins by Johnny O'Brien, the first book in his time travel adventure series featuring main character Jack Christie. Earlier this year the sequel, Day of Deliverance was released in stunning hardback format complete with die-cut sword slashes, and I managed to presuade the generous people at Templar Publishing that it would be a good idea to send me a copy to review.

The first book in the series saw Jack going back in time to the years of the First World War as he stumbled into a plot to change history. This plot had been formulated by a group known as the Revisionists who are determined to make the future a better place (in their eyes) by interfering at critical moments in history. In Day of Deliverance Jack and his friend Angus are sent back to Elizabethan times by VIGIL, the organisation dedicated to ensuring that the Revisionists are prevented from abusing the time travel technology they have managed to develop.

Whereas the first book was all about making difficult decisions, the sequel is very much more of a straightforward time travel adventure story; whilst I still thoroughly enjoyed Day of Deliverance I felt that it was therefore lacking something that made the first book a little more special. Of course, the events that happened in this period are far more removed from Jack (and us as readers) than those of the Great War when so may thousands died in action and issues such as the Spanish Armada and the execution of Mary Queen of Scots do not impact on us in the same way.

The Tudor period is probably my favourite historical era and I love reading historical thrillers for adults set during this period. I was therefore really interested to see what Johnny O'Brien had in store for his young hero, and I wasn't disappointed. In the course of the story Jack Christie witnesses the aforementioned execution, meets William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe, and even finds himself with a particularly risky front row seat at the Armada battle itself. Mr O'Brien is a huge history buff and carries out very detailed research for his books, and as such the details about the period all come across as being very authentic from my layman's point of view. 

The plot itself is a little more straighforward than that of the first book in the series, but it is just as fast paced and there are more than enough swashbuckling action scenes to keep reluctant boy readers happy. Since the release of Day of the Assassins we have also seen the publication of the first two books in Alex Scarrow's TimeRiders series, but to compare the two would, I feel, be a little unfair. The Jack Christie adventures are most definitely for the younger 9+ age group, whilst Scarrow's books are more complex and their themes more suitable for the 12+ group. O'Brien's books are also more realistic in their historical nature as the concept of changing history to alter the future remains just that, whereas in the TimeRiders series we actually get to read about that alternate future.

The third Jack Christie story is entitled Day of Vengeance and according to the Jack Christie website it is due out in 2011. I am looking forward to seeing where (or should that be when?) Johnny O'Brien takes Jack Christie next.

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