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*A Loop in Time: Book One of the Polis Series* by Rowena Wright- young adult book review

A Loop in Time: Book One of the Polis Series
by Rowena Wright
Grades 8+ 304 pages Finial Publishing November 2006 Hardcover    

A Loop in Time by Rowena Wright takes the reader on wild flights of the imagination. By turns, the writing is descriptive and poetic, sometimes silly, embracing seeming contradictions with glee. This retelling of the Egyptian myth of Osiris includes many other topics thrown in to the storyline, ranging from quantum physics to the Plantagenet dynasty in England to references to “frictionless ball bearings,” “fan-vaulted ceilings,” and Alice In Wonderland. The teenagers depicted are intellectually precocious - a good thing in any teenager, not to mention people in general. However, the many tangential references the characters call up are also detrimental to the plot’s flow, and while interesting, distracting.

Sophia Ludwig is the first character mentioned in A Loop in Time, the mother of Ericca, who is herself the true main character - especially when she becomes a teenager and works as a librarian for the New York City public library system . They both are, in most ways, indistinguishable from humans but are actually Ringgolds. What exactly Ringgolds are is not fully explained, and when the teenaged Ericca does an Internet search on the term, that doesn’t explain much more than she’s already deduced: they possess technology superior to humans, are of an older race, possibly have some kind of relationship with trees and gold, generally live much longer than humans without showing signs of aging at the same rate, and fought alongside humans in what’s referred to in the book as the “Tunnel Wars.”

Errica looks for clues to discover if her father, Branch Archer, who died in a fiery plane crash in the Tunnel Wars, is trying to find another “vessel,” or body, in which to return to her and her mother. She’s aided in this by her friends Elle and Matt, who are twins, some of the other characters, and her trusty baby blanket, Spike. Yes, that’s right - a baby blanket. This is one of the many silly but potentially endearing parts of the book. It’s actually more of a baby quilt created by Maxine Weaver, one of Sophia’s friends, and given to Sophia and Ericca at Sophia’s baby shower in the first chapter. The faces of famous historical personages are on the quilt, and every one of them can raise their heads up to converse with Ericca, though the two that do it most often (and are characters in their own right) are the physicist Albert Einstein and the mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci. They sometimes offer Ericca helpful information but also provide comic relief with their bickering over subjects such as the relative merits of physics and mathematics to the world.

Many obstacles stand in the way of Ericca learning more about her father. The two main antagonists, Daemon Skye and his daughter, Tory, complicate the search and in general make life more difficult for Ericca. Daemon Skye flew and fought with Branch Archer in the Tunnel Wars and later made a fortune through real estate deals, a la Donald Trump. Tory has her own line of jewelry, handbags, and doggie accessories, and, with her pet Pomeranian, brings to mind a young Paris Hilton.

Convinced that Daemon has kidnapped Maxine Weaver and another friend, Quintana Castle, Ericca dreams up a wacky Lucille Ball-worthy scheme to infiltrate the Skyes’ New Year’s party at Skye Towers: “We will be pastry chefs delivering candy-cane chess pieces, a festive centerpiece in a gala party. A holiday gift from Quint A. Senns.” They dress in “white chef’s hats with attached wigs,” and everything seems to be working according to the plan until the teenagers see Maxine and Quintana apparently enjoying themselves floating in the levitation room, eating bunches of grapes. Daemon utters the words “Vacuum Evacuate!” and the round window of the room shatters “with an ear-piercing din”:
With a loud whoosh, the unsecured contents of the rooms went flying out, Ericca, Quintana, and Maxine among them. Ericca flew abruptly into the frigid night sky and glimpsed in horror the lights of buildings and cars far below. The cold air Sent blood coursing away from her hands and face. She felt numb, then panicked as she noticed gushing red gashes on her hands the shattered shards of the exploding window had ripped her skin, and now she tasted the saltiness of warm blood In her mouth.
A Loop in Time is sure to appeal to fans of books in the vein of A Wrinkle in Time. Some reviewers have mentioned that the characters are two-dimensional, but I would suggest that they serve as literary archetypes, hearkening back to figures of mythology and folklore, and as such don’t require a lot of additional character development. While the book is very good, one might need a set of encyclopedias or the Internet on standby to know what Rowena Wright is talking about with some of her references.

It is better, in my view, to risk overestimating the intelligence of one’s audience than to talk down to them, but some readers might end up discouraged and put the book down rather than bothering to figure out the significance of some of the author’s references. That would be a bad thing, because A Loop in Time has a lot going for it, a clever novel written by an author with a great future ahead of her. I recommend this book and look forward to reading more from Rowena Wright in the coming years.

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