Demian's Gamebook Web Page
Sign Up ยท Log In

The Time Raider

(original)
(reissue)
Series: Twistaplot #1
Translated Into: Avontuur in de tijd (Dutch)
El corsario del tiempo (Spanish)
O viajante do tempo (Portuguese)
Voyages dans le temps (French)
Author: Stine, R. L.
Illustrators: Nibats, Rotciv (original cover)
Febland, David (interior)
Release Date: 1982
ISBNs: 0590326376 / 9780590326377 (original)
0590485555 / 9780590485555 (reissue)
Length:94 pages
Number of Endings:28
User Summary: Your uncle Edgar builds a time machine and you get to test it out!
Demian's Thoughts: Here's a familiar plot.... Fortunately, some interesting things have been done here. This book features some use of random numbers, optional endings, multiple endings on single pages and other unusual gimmicks which make it an entertaining read. There's also an almost Monty Pythonesque adventure involving a maniacal leader who wishes to force slaves to lay eggs. The biggest problem with this book involves the terrible quality of its interior illustrations.

More reviews by Demian

KenJenningsJeopardy74's Thoughts: R. L. Stine's gamebooks are unique creations, bouncing between action that sometimes rivals the most exciting I've seen from interactive fiction, humor ranging from smart to slapstick, mild horror as good as anything from the main Goosebumps series, and pervasive silliness that softens the fright so even the youngest readers won't feel scared for too long. The Time Raider was the debut installment in Scholastic's Twistaplot series, and R. L. Stine was probably a good choice to be the first author, though he still was roughly a decade from boarding the runaway bestseller Goosebumps train that would earn him enormous fame and fortune. Time machines would factor in once or twice when R.L. Stine kicked off his own interactive novels series, Give Yourself Goosebumps, but here we get an early look at his treatment of the subject, with glimpses of the surprising plot twists that would later mark his most popular books.

You are visiting your Uncle Edgar for the weekend, and anything can happen when you're at his place. Uncle Edgar is an inventor, and many of his past innovations are downright bizarre (you don't even make it past page one before you're unable to resist teasing him about his failed underwater toaster). But this time your uncle is more excited than usual, and for good reason: He says he has invented a time machine, dubbing it the Time Raider, and wants the two of you to be his first test subjects. You have difficulty believing that even an eccentric brainiac like Edgar could invent a working time machine, but the vehicle really works; however, your uncle's scatterbrained disposition leads to your being sent through time without him. Now your only link with the present time is the green pendant Uncle Edgar put around your neck; squeeze it when you want to return home, and you should be back to your own time in an instant. The question is, will it work when you need it?

You don't have any choice about using the Time Raider, but your decision to go forward or back in time will have a major impact on what happens next in the story. If you journey to the past, you could meet your father and Uncle Edgar when they were children, as Edgar prepares to try out a new sled he's designed to attain optimal distance down the snowy hill behind their house. But be careful what you say to them; you don't come from their era, even if you appear to be their age, and bad things could occur if they become suspicious of you. Traveling to the past could also bring you briefly into contact with the Jurassic world, or to the American Frontier, where natural and manmade threats are just as immediate as anything caused by the metaphysical turbulence of your foray into time-space.

The future as portrayed in The Time Raider is a highly technologized place, with flying cars and crazy emperors and lots of ingrained culturalisms that make no more sense to you than ours would to people who lived two hundred years ago, and it's easy to die in a myriad of horrible ways before you can grab your green pendant and indicate your desire to abandon time travel for the moment. Think your decisions over carefully, but even if you're an astute gamebook manager, you're at least as likely to die as make it back to Uncle Edgar alive, so just go with the flow and see if you can't make a happy ending for yourself. If you get one on your first try, I'll be impressed.

The game mechanism in The Time Raider is usually as simple as making a choice and turning to the corresponding page, though some of those "choices" are based solely on luck, ruling out any benefit from the reader's strategic acumen. The way the story branches based on how lucky you are can be fairly interesting, though at least once your luck doesn't matter at all; even with maximum good-luck power, you die. Such is life, I suppose. But there are some intriguing storylines in The Time Raider, which is why I liked the book despite internal logistics that are frequently perplexing. I liked the ending where you travel to the past and rescue your father and Edgar from an icy, watery grave, even though it takes a little luck to reach the most positive outcome of that adventure. The feeling of reward you experience, watching your young father still living and breathing because of the heroic effort you expended to save him, is something most people will never have, even if you must go back to the present before revealing who you are. Scientifically speaking, it might be best that way. A few endings in this book made me laugh out loud, and I don't think I need to describe them; you'll be able to identify which ones they are when you read them yourself. My favorite storyline from the future lands you in a strange world where everyone moves and talks so slowly, you don't realize at first that they aren't frozen in place. Your choices from that point forward are all crucial, not only to your survival but to the future of this world's inhabitants, and each story path you take shows a bit more of what's really going on here, and what you should do to make things right. Internal consistency throughout The Time Raider is practically nil, and it's far from intact even in this most carefully considered branch, but the twists effectively grabbed my attention and made me want to read more right away. That's a good sign for any book.

The Time Raider is a nice diversion, and though it is illustrated, the story is mostly text, more so than the average Choose Your Own Adventure entry. That makes the book last longer than its ninety-four pages might indicate, even if there are several places where text is reused to join and extend multiple storylines. I wouldn't rate The Time Raider on par with R. L. Stine's best work from the Give Yourself Goosebumps series, but I had fun with it. I encourage others to give it a shot.

More reviews by KenJenningsJeopardy74

Users Who Own This Item: Ardennes, bookwormjeff (original & reissue), Crazyscotsman, CSquared, Darth Rabbitt, dave2002a, Demian (second reissue printing), duckhugger ((original and re-issue)), exaquint (scholastic 1.95 sticker), Garrick Muttley, girtablilu, Greeneuva, Gurvo, hoops4ever, katzcollection, keving, kinderstef, kleme (original), knginatl (orig., reissue), Lambchop, mattender, mcd (original), mlvoss, Mr ? (original edition), nelsondesign, NEMO (original), novelist1982, ntar (original & reissue), plowboy (original), Pseudo_Intellectual, qazplm (original), RonaldFrobnitz, Ryuran333, spragmatic, strawberry_brite, ThaRid (2 copies; one ex-library), ThisIslandEarth, twar, Virtua Sinner, Von Scotty, wonderfly, Yalius
Users Who Want This Item: Ffghtermedic, NEMO (reissue), Nomad, vinler
Users with Extra Copies: Blame it on Rio - large reissue
bookwormjeff - original
duckhugger - willing to part with the re-issue copy of this I have... it's in pretty good shape.
hi - hi
Jennifer
NEMO - Round/gold Scholastic 1.95 sticker, top right front cover
ntar - 1 original, 2 reissue
strawberry_brite

Please log in to manage your collection or post a review.