________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 5 . . . . October 5, 2012


The Edge of When.

Carol Matas.
Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2011.
276 pp., trade pbk, $12.95.
ISBN 978-1-55455-198-9.

Subject Heading:
Time travel-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 5-9 / Ages 10-14.

Review by Libby McKeever.

*** /4



Then Lonney vanished. He was just…gone.

Rebecca went around to the back of the building. She found a door and although it was locked, there was a large dog door in it, probably used in the past for a big guard dog. She crawled through the small opening. Her hair caught on the rusty hinges and scraped her back but she managed to squeeze through. She found herself inside the huge silent warehouse and saw the booth dead ahead.

She reached the entrance of the booth and peered inside. She couldn’t see any trap door, but perhaps it worked by pressing a certain spot. She stuck one toe into the booth and pressed on the rough wood floor. Nothing. She thrust the rest of her foot in and pressed. Again nothing. She was fine. She reached out with her right foot and touched the centre.

And everything went black.

Rebecca loved school, but when she was teamed up with Lonney, she couldn’t believe her bad luck. Lonney spent most of his time in the principal’s office, fell asleep when he’d finally show up to work on their project and couldn’t care when they received a D. But early one morning, the first day of summer holidays, Rebecca noticed him in the park across the road from her house. He looked sad and dishevelled, as though he’d been up all night. Rebecca knew she’d been mean to him and wanted to apologize, but when she saw him walking by a black van, two men jumped out and grabbed him and sped away.

      Rebecca’s followed them to an abandoned warehouse, and she soon discovered what was happening as she was accidentally transported forward in time. These men were from the future, the year 2050, and they were coming back to the present to kidnap young people; people they thought wouldn’t be missed in order to help their population continue to exist. In 2050, only a few people have survived a post-nuclear apocalypse, and they live underground. Rebecca, with the help of Lonney and two other teens, manages to escape back to the present. In doing so, they put in motion action for change, as the two teens are from the future and are determined to change the present in order to save their world.

      The second possible future is revealed when Rebecca follows Mark and Jonathan. These boys are time-travellers from a different future, one where a corporation rules a consumer driven economy that has polluted the world beyond its perimeter. In this police state, Mark and Jonathon are freedom fighters. In the third future, Rebecca is disoriented as she finds herself living side by side with another version of herself, one that hasn’t experience all the futures. Together with the teens from the 2050 and Jonathon, the two Rebeccas rally to work at changing the current reality in order to alter the future of the world.

      The Edge of When was originally published over thirty years ago as three individual books set in Winnipeg: The Fusion Factor, Zanu and Me, Myself and I. The protagonist, Rebecca, visits various futures, one where people live underground as the post-nuclear surface is too toxic, one where one corporation rules a consumer driven economy that has polluted the world beyond its perimeter, and one that is peaceful but where free will and individual thought have been erased.

      Rebecca’s knowledge of what will become of the earth enabled her to effect change in the present. As such, this thought-provoking, although sometimes didactic, novel would make a good classroom study novel. Discussion around the planet’s future and how individual actions today can shape our collective futures would be valuable.

      Carol Matas is an award-winning author of contemporary novels, historical fiction, science fiction and fantasy books for children and teens. To date, she has written over 40 books. Her latest book, Behind Enemy Lines, is part of the “I Am Canada” series.


Libby McKeever is the Youth Services Librarian at the Whistler Public Library in Whistler, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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