I enjoyed it, but not in the way I thought I would!
This was a complete cover buy! I needed a second book to make up my 2 for £7 deal and the words ‘with a hamster’ drew me in straight away.
It is the debut novel by Ross Welford, published in 2015! I’ve tried not to include obvious spoilers, but even though this is a childrens book, as an adult, you can delve much deeper.
The author also published another book called ‘What not to do if you turn invisible’ in 2016! And my crazy hamster lady self comes out a little at the end, and I’m sorry!
On to the review!
Time Travelling with a Hamster follows 12-year-old Al and his pet hamster – Alan Shearer – as they travel back in time to prevent his dad from dying. They travel back to when his dad was 12 to stop the accident that would eventually lead to his dads death years later, except, it doesn’t go as planned.
It is marketed as a middle grade book, but it’s not this whimsical adventure you expect it to be. It’s very dark at times and I think, in places, it borders on being adult fiction instead. I enjoyed it in a way, but not in the way I thought I would. It also felt like sometimes, the narrator wasn’t a twelve year old boy, like Albert wasn’t sure if he was a kid or an adult whilst he told us the story. There are references to him telling the story after his grand adventure has taken place though, so maybe he is writing from a slightly older perspective, but we never actually know.
However, what I liked about it was the way it explained time travel in simpler terms, which I think was done tremendously. I liked how it was even made to sound slightly technical, which made me think I was far smarter than I am! I also enjoyed the shorter chapters! I think that helps to break it up a lot more, and make you think, yeah, I can read a bit more before I need to sleep. But, it also felt like a bit of it was drawn out, especially at the beginning. It almost made it hard to get in to, but once I got down to the whole time travelling bit, I couldn’t put it down.
The book is also full of wonderfully fascinating characters which are all three-dimensional, which I think the author pulled off flawlessly. I did have a few tears here and there, I’ll admit, but I think it just shows that the author really got the feel of the book spot on.
However, I think the one thing that did disappoint me the most was the reason I bought it for – Alan Shearer – the hamster, felt more like an add-on just to attract attention, an afterthought (literally) at times, and I felt a little bit betrayed.
There was also another thing that bothered me in this book, but I guess, looking from an adults perspective; looking in to this young boys adventure, I have a completely different view to that of a kid, and a child is much less likely too think the way I do.
This is to do with the pressure put on a twelve-year-old to go back in time and save his dad! After reading it, I just felt like his dad was being a douche – which is the nice way to put it – and perhaps he should have been more concerned with getting his son to understand grief and loss and change, and not thinking of how to bring himself back to life.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s one person in this world that I would do anything to bring back to life, there’s probably somebody you would do anything to get back, but I think, in these circumstances, it’s more important to learn how to cope, how to change and adapt, and all that; instead of going on a terrifying and dangerous mission to alter the past and hope you don’t end up erased from history.
Then again, Al is only twelve, he misses his dad terribly, his life isn’t all that great and I guess, this and his nievity is sort of abused by his own dad in a way.
Although, this theme bothered me, it didn’t make me not like the book. It was really good book – if you take away the whimsical title and the cover and just read it as it is – and it was an interesting read. It was drawn out at some points, especially at the beginning (I thought I was never going to finish it), but it does look at all those themes that are important for kids to look at, like loss and grief and change, and even second-families.
As a children’s read, I can’t say much, but I think I would have really enjoyed this book as a kid because I wouldn’t have looked at the overall picture, I would have just thought about Albert going on this adventure in a time machine and trying to bring his dad back to life! As an adult read, I would recommend it, but just be prepared for it to not be as you expect.
Also, perhaps if you’re going to include a hamster in your book for kids, it should be advised that you probably shouldn’t take your hamster on such an adventure, because, they will probably die. And, you should do a bit more research on hamster and know slightly more about them before they become a part of your title. This is my crazy hamster lady side coming out, but the book was still good! You should still read it!
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I guess if I had to go on a time travelling adventure, I would not take Mouse! He screams sometimes and I don’t think he’d be a good partner in crime!