Justin Thyme is written by Panama Oxridge. It was published in 2010 by Inside Pocket (actually, I believe this is a self-published book). It is the first book in a duology (or potential trilogy?) called The Tartan of Thyme. Oxridge’s website can be found here.
“Justin Thyme is a self-made billionaire living in a castle overlooking Loch Ness. The day he turns thirteen, he receives an anonymous gift: a fabulous watch with a puzzling message hidden on it. When he tells his father of his plans to build a time machine, the Laird of Thyme reveals tantalizing fragments of past espionage and warns his son of a ruthless enemy keeping him under constant surveillance. At first, Justin fails to take Sir Willoughby seriously, but when a stranger arrives claiming to be his long-lost grandfather, Justin is wary – especially after his beloved Nanny insists the old man is an impostor. Justin’s TV celebrity mother departs on a Congo expedition with her eccentric film crew and Eliza, a computer-literate gorilla. Whilst returning, Lady Henny is abducted, and clues prove that the kidnapper has inside information; someone in Thyme Castle must be a spy – or possibly Sir Willoughby’s old enemy in disguise. Everyone is under suspicion: Justin’s nervy tutor; their snooping housekeeper; the theatrical gardener; an ex-royal butler; and Mrs. Kof, their freakishly strong cook. Suddenly, the race against time is on. Can Justin convert his vintage motorbike into a time machine, rescue his mum and discover the identity of their resident spy in less than a week…or will the dreaded Thyme Curse claim another life?”
What I Liked:
Okay, so when I first started reading this, I thought it was really weird. But then, as I read more, I got really, really into it. The technical jargon comes complete with a dictionary in the back, and the dialogue is rather humorous at times. The notebook pages are mind-bogglingly complex and the mystery is suspenseful and hooks in all the right places.
My favorite aspect was by far the mystery. It was fantastically done. It really kept me wanting to read “just one more chapter” before I could put the book down. I think my favorite part was the revelation about Polly because it was so unexpected to me. I actually did a double-take, and then had to read the section again. Also, Oxridge uses footnotes to great effect in this book.
Both Justin and Robyn are endearing characters and virtually every character is memorable in some way. They are all also very suspicious, although some of that is cleared up by the end of this book, while others are left for the next.
The ending of the book was really well done, I thought, although it made me a little frustrated because I want to know everything, darn it! It left plenty of hook for the next book.
What I Didn’t Like:
It was a tad unrealistic at times; most of the time you can suspend your disbelief but at some points it was very hard. It did take me a little bit to get into the book because of it.
This has nothing to do with the book itself, but my library doesn’t have the next book. This makes me very sad, especially since now I’ll never know who Agent X is…
Recommended Age Range: 14+
Genre: Science Fiction, Realistic, Young Adult, Mystery
The old gentleman smiled and a single tear trickled down the side of his nose.
“What can you see?” murmured Justine.
“A beautiful young woman.”
Justin’s voice became sharp and incisive. “What’s her name?” he demanded.
A furrow of concentration puckered the old man’s brow. Then all at once, his eyes flew open with an expression of pure bewilderment. “I know her name! I haven’t the foggiest idea how I know…it just popped into my head out of nowhere. It doesn’t mean a thing to me, yet…yet somehow it feels vaguely familiar, almost as if…”
“WHAT’S HER NAME?” shouted everyone.
The old man gazed at them, his eyes brimming with hope and unshed tears. Finally, he spoke in a hushed voice:
After what seemed like an eternity, Robyn broke the silence:
“That’s grandma,” she whispered, her voice scarcely audible. “so…so you must be…”
“Grandpa Lyall,” shouted Willoughby.
“I see you’re admiring MAC,” remarked an unexpected voice behind him.
The sergeant jumped and turned sharply. The door remained closed and he had heard no footsteps, yet somehow, Justin had magically materialized in the centre of the room.
“Morphing Analytical Canvas,” Justin explained. “There’s a hidden micro-camera—here—transmitting every detail of your physical appearance to a computer. An iridology programme scans your iris, automatically generating artwork to match your personality profile. It can even sense subtle mood fluctuations and adjust according.”
Justin Thyme is a book that I think even adults would like, mainly because it’s almost jaw-droppingly scientific and invention-y. It also has some quite humorous scenes, great characters, and a fantastic, suspenseful mystery. My only complaint is that it’s a little hard to get into simply because of the jargon, and it’s also a little unrealistic in regards to characterization and things, but not anything way out of the norm for fiction.
You can buy this book here: Justin Thyme (Tartan of Thyme 1)
Coming Up Next: Series Week VI! Join me as I review Diana Wynne Jones’s Chronicles of Chrestomanci!