The Adventures of Nana Barb by John Auckland

Rating 8.8/10
Combining nice proven sci-fi elements with an interesting storyline and an even greater narration.

The Universe is dangerously close to collapsing. With a shady authority known as the Time Police on their tail, will the Timeseekers be able to save us all? Their only hopes rest with the prophesied 'chosen one' who - rather unexpectedly - turns out to be a kind old lady called Barbara. However, Nana Barb, as she is affectionately known by her seven grandkids, one great-granddaughter and the members of her local bridge club, becomes lost in time after the physicist who lives next-door accidentally activates her new invention. Unfortunately the only people who can save Nana Barb (and the entire Universe) are her hapless grandson Dave, his best and idiotic friend Simon and the beautiful yet clumsy physicist Louise. Guided by the omnipotent tentacles of the Fates, Nana Barb ventures through time desperate for a good cuppa, in the process meeting her long-dead parents, spawning a new religion and picking up a futuristic android companion.Will Dave and his new friends shake off the deadly Time Police? Will the Timeseekers stop the Universe from collapsing? And more importantly, will Nana Barb ever find a decent cup of tea?

The Adventures of Nana Barb: Lost in Time is the début novel of John Auckland. It is the first volume of a planned trilogy. John Auckland is going for a more community approach in writing The Adventures of Nana Barb where he urges the reader to participate in opting for new ideas and character, which he either plans to incorporate into the story or write a separate short stories about.

Finishing Lost in Time gave me a very satisfying feeling. The book feels whole. From start to finish there is very ingenious way of showing the characters, telling the story and producing a interesting world.

Let's begin with the idea. Time travelling. Although this is a theme that is popping up more and more, it  is a versatile theme that can be shaped by the author in many ways. In Lost in Time, John Auckland manages to create a very funny and witty take on time travel using a more scientific approach. This science aspect in the book was detailed but everything felt logical due to the great explanation and by making the science aspect easy to understand, like explaining the possible paradoxes that can occur in time travel, and Schrödinger’s Cat theory for quantum mechanics in a way that even younger readers could understand.

The narration of Lost in Time was done in quite a interesting way. You have the characters like Dave, Barbara (Nana Barb), Simon, Louise and Sue. The narration is not done by the characters but by the Web-Spinners who view everything from their own Hyper-Real Universe Dimension Alpha 2-32. Using this narration proved a lively and clever way of telling the story. Where there is both a present time storytelling in what the characters are going through and added to this John Auckland also uses chapters that feature the Web-Spinners as interludes to catch up with what has happened but also a for a look into the short future and what our group of time travellers are going to be facing. In this he managed to arouse my curiosity in what was to happen and gave a clear understanding where the story stood.

As for the main protagonist, Dave, he is a piece of work, as is his friend Simon. Simon is definitely not the sharpest tool in the shed. Dave being recently laid of off work, and now living with his Nana.  When I first got to read about him, he seems a bit of a hopeless case, not really having a direction is his life or really seeming motivated in achieving something. But on a subconscious level I think he does care for his grandmother very much and when she suddenly disappears he puts everything in top gear to find out exactly what happened to her and how to get here back. Dave also underwent a transformation for the better but I think his naiveté with girls remains... Then there is Simon. He is twice or triple the work that Dave is. Simon is shown as a dimwitted person, that I first felt like he did not quite fit into the story. Looking back at his first introduction and how he was at the end he did prove a funny introduction, although not vital, his dialogues with Dave and Simon’s statements are top funny. Then there is of course Nana Barb, who is the chosen one, but is suddenly transported back and forward in time at random, and is lost in time. She is just the type of grandmother everyone would like, warm and caring. During her singular adventures in time, you see her in a sort of confused way but also in a compassionate way when she meets up with her younger parents. Overall you see Nana Barb appearing through time and her “chosen” status remains obscure. So what she is destined to do is not yet revealed. In the end she in transported to a unusual location and allows for a nice adventurous continuation in the book to follow. Next to Nana Barb, Dave and Simon there are also the smart and somewhat clumsy scientist Louise and the timeseeker Sue, but what the real plan is of Sue with Lord Armitage remains to be discovered!

Next to the great line up of funny characters Lost in Time also has two factions which remain somewhat obscure in this first book. The Timeseekers and the Time Police. The Time Police are there to track the people who go on unauthorized time travel thereby causing possible harm to the future. They do not shy away from using all means possible to catch them. They have quite the flashy weapons and other tricks to help them and let people forget they were there. The Timeseekers are the opposite faction, who go against the Time Police and try to save the world. Like I mentioned, you do meet both factions and get to know the Timeseekers just a bit more than the Time Police, I am curious to what extent their ulterior motives will be revealed in the coming books.

The Adventures of Nana Barb: Lost in Time is a great starter of series and even more impressive as a début from John Auckland. Combining nice proven sci-fi elements with an interesting storyline and an even greater narration done by the funny and with Web-spinners. Using input given by the reading community this story can go any which way.

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8-stars

Not finished the book yet and I don't usually read this type of book so have been pleasantly surprised! Can't wait for Book 2!

8.4/10 from 2 reviews

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