Sam Enthoven’s new book, TIM, Defender of the Earth, is a blend of fantasy, science fiction, and giant monsters that tends to range all over the place. Honestly, he does a pretty good job of mixing all the genres because not one of them can completely exist without the other. This is a confection aimed at young male readers and it shows, though there’s a scrappy girl character that I enjoyed a lot too.
It’s really hard to discuss the book without giving away some of the novel’s progression, but I’ll try to keep all the mysteries intact as much as I can. Enthoven braids his story together by bringing his characters together, and the story summary on the book’s jacket gives away a lot.
In the beginning, there’s TIM. Yep, all capital letters. It stands for Tyrannosaurus Improved Model, and that’s exactly what he is. For years, scientist have labored in a laboratory 70 stories below the earth’s surface to blend DNA to create a new soldier. They tried blending several different creatures, but the tyrannosaur model was the only one that became viable – for reasons they still don’t understand.
Then we get introduced to Chris Pitman, a young slacker coasting through school and trying to fit into the cool crowd. He exists on the fringes of it, never quite getting into that longed-for territory. He’s also the guy who gets outfitted with the bracelet that links him to TIM and to the magical power of the earth. He doesn’t learn that for a while. I liked Chris a lot because he never comes across as the superhero type. He’s just a guy who’s stepped into a situation that’s over his head.
Anna Mallahide is the daughter of Professor Mallahide, and she ends up being the strong, scrappy girl I enjoyed getting to know. Her life hasn’t been easy because her dad has been working on nanotechnology even after international agreements between countries stated they would not. After TIM’s funding is cut, Professor Mallahide’s project is totally green-lighted. And it doesn’t take long for the professor to make himself into one of the most nefarious villains I’ve seen in a long time.
I loved Mallahide’s presence in the book because the author talks about nanotechnology and what might eventually come of it. He plays fair to both sides, building a case both for and against the advance of nanotechnology, and he does so with clear-cut examples.
But most young male readers aren’t going to be there for a discussion of nanotechnology. They want to see the battle royale between TIM and Professor Mallahide. There are a couple of warm-ups to the main event, and those only build the feeling of the coming fight. The hardback edition of this book also contains a pull-out poster of TIM and Professor Mallahide as they carry on the battlefield.
TIM, Defender of the Earth is wildly inventive and a lot of fun, but there were a few places where the action seemed to come to a standstill. Information we’d heard was sometimes repeated. Still, if you’ve got a young male reader in the house, this book will probably keep him occupied.