In this sequel to Nick of Time, the reader follows Nick McIver as he continues to defend England and the Channel Islands against the invading Nazis. Meanwhile, Nick’s sworn enemy, the pirate Billy Blood, has plans to control the Seven Seas. They each possess one of Leonardo daVinci’s time machines which enable them to move freely through time and space. Nick and his sister Kate discover Blood’s plans to capture Admiral de Grasse’s fleet, laden with booty, as it travels through the Florida Keys to Virginia in the year 1781. This would tighten Blood’s grip on the world’s navies as well as prevent de Grasse from bringing the necessary reinforcements to Washington’s Continental Army at Yorktown. If Washington loses that battle, the colonies will likely lose their war for independence. Europe desperately needs the help of the United States to defeat Hitler in WWII, but can Nick really betray his country in the eighteenth century to save it in the twentieth?
Once again Ted Bell presents a courageous hero who consistently puts duty before self. Unfortunately, Nick’s twelve year old moral compass needs some fine tuning. When challenged by his friend Gunner for wanting to help the rebellious North American colonies, Nick responds, “Sometimes the ends justify the means.” Not a great line coming from a young hero. In the end, Nick does not actually do anything wrong. As the only person who can track Blood’s movements through history, Nick has a great responsibility to humanity to stop the evil pirate. By foiling Blood’s scheme, Nick saves England from a fate worse than a defeat at Yorktown. The fact that his actions have the secondary consequence of aiding Washington should not cause him to hesitate when so much is at stake. Tricky moral reasoning for young teens? Perhaps. However, parents could use this otherwise exemplary novel as an excuse to give their young adults a crash course in moral reasoning.
Jennifer Minicus is a mother and teacher living in Ridgewood, NJ.