The Timeline

Fiction - Science Fiction
340 Pages
Reviewed on 04/21/2024
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite

The Timeline is the fifth book in the New Earth Chronicles Series by Victoria Lehrer. Captain Jack Merrick wanted to return home, but he couldn’t take Stella Lumina and the crew away from what was happening on Earth. Jack had brought Moira and Zeb to Gaia Earth, but he had no idea that his beloved Earth was not what it seemed. Moira and Zeb’s children had been taken and trafficked to Earth, where they were held in the tunnels beneath the streets of Washington, D.C. But that was not the only problem on Earth. The planet and its ecosystem were dying, thanks to the poisonous rain. Can Jack save the children, Moira, and Zeb from the darkness that engulfed Earth, or were there some things that even Jack couldn’t prevent?

I truly enjoyed The Timeline. Victoria Lehrer created a perfect universe where anything was possible. I loved Captain Jack Merrick in the previous novel (Tall-ah Earth), and he blew me away in this follow-up. He seemed more confident this time. He knew he just couldn’t back up Stella Lumina and simply cruise away as he had to help Moira and Zeb find their children and assist the others. I enjoyed Jolene’s arc and her quest to save Earth and its ecosystem. Her conversations with her android and the mystery behind the android’s somewhat human style of conversation were fascinating. I liked how much more involved the crew was in this installment. I loved Commander Click, I enjoyed Doctor Geolode’s wry humor, and Lt. Daisy always provided the reality check. The narrative was perfect, the descriptions were succinct but effective, and the imagery was remarkable. I couldn’t have asked for a better installment.

Stephanie Chapman

The Timeline is the fifth book in Victoria Lehrer's New Earth Chronicles series. Captain Jack Merrick and his motley crew aboard Stella Lumina were returning Moira and Zeb to Gaia Earth. Flying above the surface, Jack was stunned to see that his home planet was dying. Zeb and Moira explained that vaccines injected into the populace had caused worldwide deaths. The vaccines contained nanobots that also interfered with brain function, causing survivors to fall under the control of the overlords. Despite the Galactic Council's laws against actively interfering with humanity, Jack intended to assist Moira and Zeb after they explained the fate of the children. Meanwhile, Jolene was working in a laboratory biosphere designed to restore the natural habitat. Her robot assistant revealed that he was a cyborg with Andrew Simmons' brain. She didn’t believe him until she learned about Dr. Door's nefarious plan. After listening to Andrew, she related his story to her husband. Unaware of Stella Lumina's similar intentions, Bruce and Jolene also decided that they have to stop the destruction of their planet.

Victoria Lehrer's Earth Chronicles series has become one of my favorites. Jolene and Bruce were genuinely selfless people. They both led a luxurious lifestyle, but they would sacrifice it to help anyone in need. Their chance encounter with Alfred, a vagrant panhandling for food, brought a glimmer of hope. The vivid descriptions of the surroundings made everything easy to visualize. The alternating perspectives of Jack, Moira, Jolene, Bruce, Zeb, and several other characters reflected the daunting odds they all had to face. The condition of the children horrified me, especially when the account revealed the intentions of the Draconians. Just when I felt the group was going to be successful, another plot twist would pull me further into the story. I noticed that several modern-day conspiracy theories were incorporated into the plot, which made every role-player easy to relate to. I recommend The Timeline to readers who enjoy dystopian and science fiction stories grounded in realistic possibilities.

Jamie Michele

In Victoria Lehrer's speculative fiction novel The Timeline, planet Earth is threatened by the corrupt William Doors and a reptilian race seeking to seize control. A ragtag crew of the Stella Lumina, led by Captain Jack Merrick, allies with Jolene Ashberg and her artificially intelligent companion, Des-2. As Doors' exploits bleed through the environs on Earth and manipulate its population through technological menticide, Jolene, Des-2, and Captain Merrick launch a courageous rebellion. Their mission? To save the innocent children imprisoned in the capital's underbelly, confront Doors, and restore the balance of their world. Amid their dangerous quest, they grapple with the ethical implications of AI-human integration and the struggle to keep hope amidst an uncertain future when others are dying all around them.

The Timeline by Victoria Lehrer is an immersive retreat into expansive world-building and a layered universe. Lehrer's prose sparks the visualization of the universe through Captain Jack Merrick's space-bound conflict with the Dark Planet fleet and terrestrial battles, a dystopian future with prison camp systems in the desolate United States, and the existence of a secretive base in what was once the country's greatest estuary. Speculative fiction is thought-provoking by nature but Lehrer raising ethical implications - exemplified by Jolene's secretive operation to modify chemtrail patterns poisoning the environment - can enliven any dinner table debate about individual actions in the face of large-scale corruption. Still, for all of the science in The Timeline's fiction, the human elements, like Moira's daring escape plan for her children, symbolize the inherent drive to protect the vulnerable from extreme malevolence in a narrative that will resonate with its audience on a deeply personal level.

Asher Syed

The Timeline by Victoria Lehrer is set in a dystopian future, where Jolene, Bruce, Captain Jack Merrick, and a human-brained cyborg named Des-2 band together against evil forces exploiting Earth's people and ecosystems. Facing a tech-controlled society, horrifying experiments, and human trafficking, they form alliances to rescue the oppressed. Jolene also uncovers overlord William Doors' plans for bioengineered ecosystems and mind control, rejecting his oppressive system. Children are being held captive and Doors' control remains undisrupted; the cost of an operation during a dark ritual is heavy. Meanwhile, Jack navigates interstellar politics and battles reptilian invaders. A tragic death leading to restored life and the potential to rescue deeply traumatized children gives strength and purpose, but nothing is certain if Earth's defenders cannot engage the Dracolian fleet.

I don't get many firsts, but The Timeline by Victoria Lehrer is the first time I have read a novel that contained the newest branch of the military; the Space Force. I found the Dracolian Federation perfectly terrifying and while all stories where the people of Earth are somehow able to make nice to stop aggressor civilizations, when we cannot seem to do that on our own planet in real life ourselves, what Lehrer gets right is that her way is actually acceptable. Suspension of disbelief in human exceptionalism is not easy to facilitate but Lehrer got me there comfortably. I loved the Jolene and Bruce story, which is beautiful in every way. It's one of those twists that elevates a novel significantly and when it is paired with innocent children...well, get some tissues. I'm a grown man and, trust me, you're going to need them. Very highly recommended.

K.C. Finn

The Timeline is a work of fiction in the science fiction, fantasy, action, and adventure subgenres, and it forms the fifth novel of the New Earth Chronicles. It is suitable for the mature end of the young adult reading audience as well as adult readers and was penned by author Victoria Lehrer. In this latest installment in the action-packed science fiction saga, we find ourselves following Captain Jack Merrick’s exploits when he beholds a vision of a bleak planet filled with forced labor, child trafficking, and a dying natural world overrun by nanobots. Uncovering the route of such devastation is no mean feat, but with the help of his crew on the Stella Lumina, Jack has rescue on his mind.

Author Victoria Lehrer has crafted an absolutely fascinating blend of science fiction, fantasy aspects, interpersonal drama, and all-out action in this rich work of high-stakes space drama. I really enjoyed the whole concept of the novel and its focus on climate and ecosystem issues versus politics, power dynamics, and the rise of technology. Jolene was an especially great character to herald the humanistic perspective as she was so balanced, intelligent, and relatable, and I think sci-fi fans who like a diverse cast with varying perspectives will each find someone they can relate to in the mix. I was really impressed with the use of dialogue not only as a great way to keep the pace during exposition and discovery but in characterization and allowing us to read emotion and suspense between the lines. Overall, The Timeline is certain to please fans of the existing series but is also a fantastic stand-alone tale of planetary devastation and human folly.