A fun, addictive read from page 1. Various genres and sub-genres — Young Adult, time-travel, adventure, sci-fi, dystopian, political thriller — are expertly blended to make a truly unique story that I enjoyed immensely.
There is much about Blue Into the Rip that is familiar and handled differently this debut novel from Kev Heritage (@KevHeritage) might quickly fade from memory. I’m very pleased to report several days after finishing the advance copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review that I’m still thinking about this wonderful story and how Mr. Heritage takes tropes and turns them upside down (read my interview with the author).
Blue, the titular character and protagonist, is very much a “fish out of water” teenager (initially figuratively, soon literally) so-named because of the color of his unusual, “googly” eyes; eyes that give him unusual night vision. While searching for his sister in a nearby wood, Blue stumbles into a “rip” in time, landing four hundred years in the future on an Earth decimated by Global Warming. How messed up is the planet Blue rips to? Try this: England is a swamp and the Amazon is a desert, and much of humanity has moved to colonies off-world.
Blue learns “eggheads” (scientists) in the future know how to open rips in time, making time travel possible, but there’s a twist: it takes enormous resources but they can send you back to a specific place and date, but returning through the rip your arrival back in the “present” can vary by days, months or even years. Because of this time travel has been abandoned but people like Blue periodically pop out of rips and are collected by the Earth Corps, a military-style organization.
With no living relations, Blue becomes a cadet at the Earth Corps Academy, studying alongside a mixture of other humans including some physically altered by having been born off-planet. Blue vows to return to his own time to save his sister, but first he’s got to figure out how to adapt to a future where space flight and travel to other planets isn’t just possible, it’s an every day occurrence. Along the way Blue discovers there is more to the things like his night vision and photographic memory that made him an outsider in his own time than he could have ever imagined, but to say anything beyond that would spoil the fun for future readers.
Frankly, writing a spoiler-free review is as difficult as the story was fun to read. Sub-plots are identified, they come to the fore and then fade into the background as other sub-plots appear; It happens so smoothly, though, that the reader floats blissfully along, taking it all in. There are also some expertly placed twists and turns in the plot; reviewing Mr. Heritage’s biography I was surprised to see magician was not one of the many, many occupations he has held.
In addition to the unique setting, Mr. Heritage has created some interesting and diverse characters. I particularly enjoyed his dialogue, which sounded very natural in my head (if you think all dialogue does, try reading some aloud and you’ll quickly see it isn’t so). In addition to Blue’s own unique words like “awe-wonder-sum” some unusual phrases from our time survive four centuries into the future, causing me to chuckle when a military commander tells the cadets to “be cool” instead of saying “at ease.”
Too often the first novel of a series or trilogy becomes an extended prologue, setting the stage but without paying off any of the issues raised. I’m pleased to report Mr. Heritage avoids this, bringing the major plot points of Blue Into The Rip to a satisfying conclusion while at the same time whetting the appetite to learn more about the few unanswered questions floating just out of easy reach.
I can’t wait to find out what happens to Blue next. With Blue Into The Rip, Kev Heritage has crafted a unique, thrilling and immersive story, all the more impressive as it is a debut novel. To learn more about Mr. Heritage and his writing, visit his blog.