Infinity Ring: A Mutiny in Time by James Dashner

Dak Smythe and Sera Froste are geniuses and friends who live in an alternate version of our own time. Unfortunately, their world is falling apart: high crime, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, forest fires, blizzards, storms, a dictatorship police government, and general unrest and confusion. It’s all because of disruptions in time, perpetrated long ago at several key points in history by the SQ, a group of Time Thugs who have altered the course of history.

The series looks to be a LOT like Margaret Peterson Haddix’s The Missing series, except with more bells and whistles. The Infinity Ring series was developed by Scholastic, and Mr. Dashner (The Maze Runner) was recruited to write the first and last book in the seven book series. The other books are to be written (or have been written) by Carrie Ryan (The Forest of Hands and Teeth), Lisa McMann (The Unwanteds), Matt de la Pena (Mexican Whiteboy), Matthew J. Kirby (The Clockwork Three), and Jennifer A. Nielsen (The False Prince). Book 2 in the series is available in bookstores and libraries now, and Book 3 comes out in February 2013. There are games and online clues and apps and videos–all sorts of extra stuff to enrich (subvert?) your reading experience.

How Infinity Ring parallels The Missing:

1. Time itself has been disrupted and needs to be “fixed.” In the Infinity Ring books, specific events in history have been changed leading to changes in the course of history that are damaging to the planet. In Missing, key children have been kidnapped, causing the course of human events to be disrupted.

2. The good guys are fighting against the bad guys against the backdrop of history. In Infinity Ring, it’s the SQ against the Hystorians. In Missing, it’s the kidnappers against the Time agents.

3. Kids have to visit specific times and places to fix Time and put things right. Dak and Sera and another young man they befriend, Riq, are the heroes of Infinity Ring. Jonah and his sister Katherine are the main time-rescuers in The Missing books. In both series there are adults who are there to help the kids on their way, but it’s the young people who have to do the heavy lifting and time-traveling.

4. The kids in Infinity Ring have an infinity ring to transport them through time and some kind of implant in their teeth (?) to translate the new languages they encounter. Jonah and Katherine have an Elucidator that translates for them and enables them to be invisible when they need to be unseen.

5. Jonah and Katherine see tracers, ghostly bodies that show them how time would have progressed if it hadn’t been changed. The Infinity Ring time travelers have Remnants, deja-vu-like experiences in which they feel and even envision how history is supposed to be without the changes.

6. There’s lots of history and historical fiction mixed up in both of these series. Between the two series, a reader could learn about Richard III and the Battle of Bosworth, Christopher Columbus, the Viking invasion of Paris, the Underground Railroad, Henry Hudson’s explorations, the Lost Colony of Roanoke, the French Revolution, and the early career of Albert Einstein. That’s not a bad start on world history, especially since I think learning about historical events is more fun and memorable in a fictional, story format.

So which series would I recommend if you could only read one? Haddix’s books are far more interesting, suspenseful, and better written, but if you want the extras, games and online stuff, then you’ll probably like the Infinity Ring books better. The Infinity Ring books are also shorter and perhaps meant for a little bit younger audience.

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