Torn is the fourth book in The Missing series by Margaret Peterson Haddix. The first book, Found, starts with a fascinating scene: an airplane appears in an airport unexpectedly. No one is on board except for a planeful of infants. After the infants are taken off the plane, it disappears. The place? A midwestern town like Chicago.
Wow, Intriguing, right? Well, Jonah, a 13-year-old, gets a mysterious message one day that simply says, “You are one of the missing.” It turns out that the infants are time travelers who were destined to die in their own time, stolen just before their deaths, and mistakenly left in the present.
In an effort to “right” the wrongs done by the time traveling thieves, Jonah (and his sister, who is not from a different time) go back to several different eras. In Sent, the second in the series, they are sent back to 1483, the time of the young princes who mysteriously disappeared from the Tower of London.
The next book, Sabotaged, takes them to another interesting place and time period, the Roanoke settlement. Torn, the latest book takes place a few years in time after Sabotaged when Henry Hudson tries to find the Northwest Passage during his fourth visit to the “new world.”
The setting is detailed — the bitter cold, the meager (and truly disgusting) rations, the agonizingly difficult life aboard the ship — all are set out clearly. What is not so clear is the problems that are occuring because of the time travel. Because Sabotaged came out about a year ago, many readers may not remember exactly how it ended.
Yet the problems from that book are referred to often in this story. It became very confusing between JB, the “good” time traveler, and Second, the “bad” time traveler, and who was where when. The time travel paradoxes, the different trips — many readers will stop trying to make sense of all that and just read to find out what happens to Jonah and his sister.
JB, the guy from the future who is trying to “right” time, becomes more humane in this story. Instead of just trying to right time at the expense of anyone and anything, he saves the lives of people who should have died in the “original” version of time because they were his friends.
The other theme that young readers should take away from this book is how easy life is now, especially when compared to life hundreds of years ago. Although John Hudson was Henry Hudson’s son, his life was horribly difficult, ending with an early death (or it would have meant death if John had not been stolen by the time travelers).
One of the time travelers says, “I was used to living in the woods and cooking over an open flame and owning exactly one outfit — and now I’ve got to remember how to use my iPod and computer again.”
The ending leaves strong hints that there will be more time travel in the future (pardon the pun) for Jonah. That’s not surprising. After all, we still don’t know which famous figure from history he is. And another given is that the setting will be exotic — as far from Chicago as every book after the first one.
Find Torn at local independent bookstores like The Book Stall at Chestnut Court in Winnetka, The Book Bin in Northbrook, and Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville and Downer’s Grove.
This review was based on the final hardcover version provided by the publisher.