Crossing the Rubicon by R.C. Richter (published by CreateSpace Sept. 2012) is a young adult novel which rolls time travel into a journal to create an interesting approach to history. The book follows the paths of 7 travelers who go on a weekend caving expedition and end up getting sucked back over 250 years into the past with limited camping gear, a few smart phones (which are essentially useless to them) and their wits.
This book will appeal to the Twilight lovers out there, as it has many of the same types of characters (young, earnest teens, sweet love/romance, etc). The story is told through the eyes of the main character, Trinity, in a series of journal entries as the group moves from the foothills of the Canadian Rockies toward what they hope is civilization (the West Coast). Along their journey, they face many different cultures and need to deal with numerous heartbreaking trials. I think many readers will be able to put themselves into Trinity’s shoes while asking themselves deeper questions about how they might survive in a similar situation.
At times, I found it hard to emotionally connect with the characters. There is always a risk to reading something via journal entries, as you are always reading things that have happened in the past for the narrative voice. That tends to take away the suspense of the moment (at least the main character survives!), but I think many teen readers will be comforted by that. It bothered me how race was brought up, but hardly dealt with in any meaningful way. It also bugged the history teacher in me that the cultures that are met up with fail to be elaborated upon with depth. For example, the youths spend an entire winter with a tribe of native peoples in the Pacific Northwest, but there is no mention of potlatch or chilkat blankets, and virtually nothing about the cedar longhouses with their carved house posts. What a missed opportunity. Instead, the author focuses on the emotions of Trinity and her girlfriends with their budding romances.
This book will appeal to those girls who are reluctant readers. The romance and adventure will draw them in, while nice details like the aged paper feel to the printed pages and ample white space will enhance their reading experience. Any reader who loved books like Twilight or The Evernight series will enjoy this. The accurate historical representations of cultures along the Western coast of the continent are a nice bonus.