If you could change history, should you? This is a question that is often asked by people considering the possibility and implications of time travel, and it is one that is not without controversy. Changing the course of history as we know it can have far reaching effects, none of which can be foreseen. But if you could save an entire people from destruction, is it worth doing even if the future becomes unclear? This is one of the important conversations in Ben Gartner’s newest novel, People of the Sun.
This final episode in the Eye of Ra series picks up about a month after John and Sarah move with their family to Maryland for their dad’s job. They are visiting their Aunt Lorraine in Santa Cruz, California when they experience their very first earthquake. After the earth stops moving, two strangers emerge from the forest and pull John and Sarah along with them, as the young siblings are the only hope to save the world from destruction. Please see my full review here.
Flung through time, John and Sarah are only eleven and twelve, mature beyond their years because of the events they have experienced together. From their first two adventures in ancient Egypt and ancient Rome, they understand the great responsibility they hold when they find themselves in the home of the Mexica in Central Mexico. This culture is known for its brutality and human sacrifice, and this reality leads to dark and macabre scenes within this novel. But, as John and Sarah have matured, so too have the readers who have accompanied them throughout this series. And while these moments have more intensity than the previous two stories, readers will appreciate being trusted to manage them appropriately.
Despite being determined to complete the task set upon Sarah and John in this story, they occasionally struggle with the implications of their actions. There is no easy solution when lives are at stake, and the line between right and wrong becomes blurry at times. True to their relationship throughout these stories, though, John and Sarah are adept at working together to find solutions that might not be obvious at first. I love the relationship these siblings share and how their roles morph and transform as they grow as individuals.
The depth of research that went into this novel is obvious in its delivery, incorporating detailed explanations of the theory of time travel and its implications as well as vivid descriptions of the land and culture of the Mexica people. The author’s note and recipe at the end of the book allow readers to immerse themselves even more into this rich history, perhaps even inspiring stories of their own.
This is a beautifully executed conclusion to the award-winning Eye of Ra series by Ben Gartner, and I highly recommend it to libraries for middle grade readers with a love of adventure and history. If you’d like to read more about the other stories in this series, please see my blog here.
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