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Reviewed by Scott Albert for Readers' Favorite
"One Step Beyond Time", written by David Sperry, is a story set 10,000 years ago in a society of cave dwellers in the American Northwest. The narrator “pierces the fourth wall” to explain things to the reader which reads a little awkward and is sometimes repetitive. The focus of the story revolves around two eight year old boys with special abilities that help them/their society develop creating tools/weapons beyond the level of their society. But, like other boys, they feel limited by the constraints of their society and embark on a quest that will explore the unknown and unlock the secret to their own potential. This YA tale of what might have happened looks at life 10,000 years ago and the possibilities and the dangers of wild animals and nature itself.
Sperry does well in the daunting task of extrapolating details of what life was like 10,000 years ago. The few criticisms are editorial: active-passive switching, logic errors (verbal commands were hand and facial expressions) and long unbroken paragraphs read a little dry like historical exposition. Grammar/punctuation errors are somewhat distracting (…many caver’s live’s). It felt like historical accuracy at odds with plot device. Some inconsistencies made suspension of disbelief difficult; ie, boys could spell their names but had no language; no education, but they passed on tool-making skills; ancient civilization could forecast rain. On top of these defects, and sadly, the ending confused me. Nonetheless, the characters are well-created and endearing. We watch the boys mature as they search for something beyond the world of caves, engaging readers in their journey and their questions. While the plot, the terminology (the super adventurers/ five, bubbly juice, etc.), and language (their ears were flapping like deerskins in the wind) are definitely Young Adult, there is also a wider audience appeal.