Chronosphere: Time Out of Time by Alex Woolf

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Chronosphere: Time Out of Time by Alex Woolf

Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A strong series opener with a paradise of ageless living undermined by something and someone quite nasty.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: March 2011
Publisher: Scribo
ISBN: 978-1907184550

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It's the 22nd Century, and finally the ideal gap year is available. Before being forced into a career prescribed him by his big society, Raffi buys his way into the Chronosphere, whereby his body will live in stasis for one minute in general time, while passing a year of sunny hedonism, with sports, shopping, girls and partying in a perfect idyll of mod-cons. But of course all is not well in paradise. His peers have a habit of vanishing without trace, and who knows? - even his newly-found friends may have something to do with it.

The Chronosphere as seen in these pages is a more than valid entry to dystopian sci-fi locales. A blend of high-tech and rural picnicking, with copious odd-sounding drinks, lots of choices, and suitably memorable hourglass-shaped central habitat, it's a place teen readers could easily see themselves in. The dark side to it all is still suitably obscure by the end - I am sure this launches a trilogy or larger series - and has the added benefit of being based around that Wibbly-Wobbly, Timey-Wimey stuff, as Doctor Who once called it.

And Alex Woolf almost convinced even me about his time concepts. He shows imagination, if some tiny lapses in logic, in providing a host of time-themed constructs, both as weapons and general effects on people's lives. Elsewhere there are faint hiccups - a handy weapon abandoned, too easily-made friendships, geeky techno-babble about hoverbike workings - but for a debut novel this has an oomph, a drama and a gusto to easily drown out such noises.

In fact, and this is high praise, I could easily see this sitting along Scott Westerfeld's future-set teen sci-fantasies. Give him the hoverbike-racing heroes and he'd easily gazump Woolf with the visceral, feels-like-you're-there sense of riding them, but there really are few instances of Woolf being inferior. The future setting isn't totally original, but serves the plot, and sets us up very nicely for further books; the characterisation is firm; and all the elements of this sci-fi world, from the robotised dwellings through to the temporal basis could easily be a companion to Uglies, Extras or Secret Hour.

Proof that you can't judge a book by its unappealing cover - this time, at least.

I must thank the publishers Scribo for my review copy.

For a lengthy series starter, we are raving over Tomorrow When The War Began by John Marsden with its own dystopia.

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Buy Chronosphere: Time Out of Time by Alex Woolf at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Chronosphere: Time Out of Time by Alex Woolf at


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