________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 18 . . . . January 15, 2016


Movers: Book 1.

Meaghan McIsaac.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2016.
275 pp., hardcover & epub, $21.99 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-77049-818-1 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-77049-820-4 (epub).

Grades 7-9 / Ages 12-14.

Review by Rob Bittner.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



The BMAC agents are gone, but there's someone there – a tall, dark-haired man with square shoulders, dressed all in black. He's like a ghost, his face shrouded in the cloud of white. He's too old to be a student and he's definitely not wearing the usual grey of a BMAC agent. He stands there, staring down at us, and all I want to do is keep running, to get out before whoever is up there blasts us the same way he did the agents.


The man lifts his hand, and I brace myself for the blast. But there isn't one. Just the man's raised hand. A wave.

I hear Gabby gasp. When I turn back she's already running down the stairs, the fastest I've ever seen her move.

When Pat's father is suspected of moving his Shadow into the present, from a number of decades in the future, he is shelved, put into a permanent coma. The world is becoming overcrowded as people get pulled from the future to the present; resources are becoming scarce, people are becoming paranoid and angry, and people are routinely being captured by an increasingly (hyper)vigilant government force. A number of years after his father's capture, when teenager Pat believes that things are finally calming down in his life, all hell breaks loose, and he finds himself running for his life, along with his younger sister, Maggie, and Gabby, a classmate who is accused of a crime she may not have even committed. As the three try to escape the authorities, they realize they are also on the run from an incredibly dangerous man from the future who is intent upon carrying out a plan to escalate a future war.

      Time travel is not always an easy sub-genre to navigate, what with all the expectations of factual science balanced with fantastical elements, and all of the complexities which derive from the paradoxes of time travel. While there are moments that may cause some young readers to become confused, the novel is well-constructed overall, and the general flow of the timeline makes logical sense. A focused reading is necessary, though, to fully understand some of the more subtle aspects of the plot.

      Two of the biggest drawbacks with Movers, however, are the somewhat excessive uses of metaphor and exposition. The heavy-handed metaphors did cause me to pause and get pulled from the story in numerous cases. There are also frequent points in which numerous pages of explanation occur, with one character telling instead of McIsaac showing. This is likely due to the first person perspective throughout the novel, but it does lead to a number of unnecessarily long and wordy accounts of what is happening in the future and why the movers can do what they do. Those readers with shorter attention spans may not be willing to work through these wordier portions of the story. One further drawback within the novel is that there is an element of fat shaming regarding Gabby that isn't entirely addressed. I really wish there was some more realization on behalf of other characters as to the harmfulness of such behaviour, and even possibly an acknowledgment of the unnecessary role that weight plays in the judgment of others. Unfortunately, that particular aspect of Pat's relationship to Gabby is left unresolved.

      These moments of exposition, metaphor, and character development aside, Gabby, Maggie, and Pat will elicit empathy from readers, and they are sympathetic enough to keep readers interested in their adventures and tribulations. Their story is thrilling, heartbreaking, mystifying, and, dare I say, entertaining. Secondary characters do have a tendency to fall into stereotype at times, but they are still compelling on the whole. McIsaac is definitely onto something with this Terminator-like young adult series, and I hope that young readers will have access to Movers in classrooms and libraries alike. This is a strong start to what I hope will be a powerhouse trilogy.


Rob Bittner is a graduate of the MA in Children's Literature program at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC. He is currently a PhD candidate in Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies at Simon Fraser University.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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