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Friday, July 15, 2011

Changing Yesterday By Sean McMullen. Melbourne: Ford Street Publishing 2011.

In Before The Storm, Liore and Fox, two young cadets from a dystopian future travelled back in time to 1901 Melbourne, to prevent a terrorist group, the Lionhearts, from blowing up the first Australian Parliament. The disaster will start a century-long war which the British Empire loses, resulting in a militaristic society and six billion deaths.

The time travellers were helped by four local teenagers – siblings Daniel and Emily, artist Muriel and petty crook Barry. They succeeded in preventing the explosion, but as this book starts, the Lionhearts are trying again. It is clear that whatever happens, history is going to try mending itself.

The situation is not helped by some personal disasters. Muriel and Fox run off together to Paris, breaking Daniel’s heart, and Barry runs off with Liore’s advanced weapon, with plans to make money on it. When Daniel’s parents send him off to England and Barry must flee Australia one step ahead of both the murderous Lionhearts and an enraged Liore, the action starts all over again, this time moving out of Australia.

Changing Yesterday , like Before The Storm, is a deliciously entertaining romp with a steampunk flavour. Despite the seriousness of the situation – the world could come to an end, for heaven’s sake! - there’s plenty of humour here. Emily is replaced as a protagonist by a young woman from Ballarat, Madeline, who has a yearning to become a private detective and just might make it. Liore may be a spectacularly good warrior, but she has no idea how to relate to others. She badly needs a local ally and Madeline is perfect for the role. Characters need to learn some life lessons – Liore comes to regret having had affection cut out of her genetic make-up while Daniel needs to become stronger.

Sean McMullen is well known for his bestselling adult speculative fiction, but his last few YA novels suggest to me, at least, that this is a promising new direction for this author. Here’s hoping he will continue to write for teens!

I’m inserting here a guest post Sean did at From Hook to Book, Christine Maree Bell’s blog. It will give you a fascinating insight into the research he did for this novel.

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