Welcome to my blog. I often think I was born with a book in my hand. I have always enjoyed reading, but more importantly, talking about books. This blog is partially about reviews, but is really a forum to talk about what I'm reading, and express all of the thoughts and feelings that there simply isn't room for in a professional review. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on your favourite books as you follow my reading journey.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Laughing Wolf & Fortuna: Teen Time Travel Adventures

Published in 2009, Laughing Wolf  introduces readers to a future society, set in the year 2213. Fifteen-year-old Felix Taylor is the last person on earth who can read and speak Latin. Technology has eliminated war, crime, poverty and famine, but has also obliterated the need for books, and the study of history. When a mysterious plague breaks out that has scientists baffled, humanity is on the brink of extinction. The cure, discovered by Felix in one of his "useless" history books, is a flower found in ancient Rome extinct for more than 200 years. Now Felix must travel back to Roman times and retrieve the flower before it's too late. It will take all of his knowledge of history and languages to navigate through the dangerous world of Spartacus, Pompey, and Cicero if he's to succeed in his mission.

In Fortuna, publishing this August, One year has passed since the Plague was cured, and the world has for the most part, forgotten about their close encounter with death. Technology exists to suppress emotions and wipe memory, creating a dangerously detached society. Just when it seems life has pretty much gotten back to normal, the world is under threat once again. Someone has discovered the time machine, and used it to project back into the past, and attempt to reverse Felix's success in curing the plague. To make matters worse, that someone is a person who is close to Felix. With the help of his friend Carolyn, Felix must travel to the time of Julius Caesar, and a later era divided by religion to stop the reemergence of the plague before the world turns to dust.

Spanish Philosopher  George Santayana famously wrote in his 1905 work The Life of Reason "

“Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.”, and this is the central theme of Canadian author and high school history teacher  Nicholas Maes' Felix Taylor Adventures. 

Imagine if one day we simply decided the past didn't matter, and history was no longer studied or remembered. Not a big deal right? After all, history never repeats itself right? We'll never make the same mistake twice, right? We know that not to be the case, but that is what the majority of the people in Felix's society- including the President- believe. Reading and the study of  history and languages is antiquated- unlike technology, which surrounds him. Luckily for Felix, (and the world) his father has insisted on a different sort of education. An education where he is surrounded by books, speaks Latin, and studies ancient history. 

Luckily for the reader, Maes' teaching background has enabled him to bring history to life in these novels, in a way that will keep easily-bored middle-schoolers engaged and turning the pages. Ancient history was violent and bloody, and Maes successfully captures these details in his writing. These details, combined with a survivial-of-the-world depends on you kind of quest make for a thrilling read. What Maes also does extremely well is to challenge his readers to consider the roles that history and religion play in our lives, and to understand how vital emotion and memory actually is. 

Whether you're a history buff or a sci-fi fan, these novels are entertaining and thought-provoking, and well- worth offering to tween readers.