The Tick Tock Man by R.M. Clark

The Tick Tock Man by R.M. Clark
Publisher: Month9 Books
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Holiday, Action/Adventure Contemporary
Length: Full Length (237 pages)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

When the clocks in town stop, thirteen-year-old CJ discovers an unusual “clock world” where most of the citizens are clock parts, tasked with keeping the big clocks running. But soon the seemingly peaceful world is divided between warring factions with CJ instructed to find the only person who can help: the elusive Tick Tock Man.

With the aid of Fuzee, a partly-human girl, he battles gear-headed extremists and razor-sharp pendulums in order to restore order before this world of chimes, springs, and clock people dissolves into a massive time warp, taking CJ’s quiet New England town with it.

Who would have guessed that clocks could be such a big source of conflict?

As someone who knows very little about how analog clocks work, I was surprised by how easy it was to understand and remember all of the timepiece references in this tale. They were all described so clearly that I could picture them as soon as the characters talked about how certain pieces of a clock fit together or what function they serve. This was something I was expecting to possibly struggle with, so it was nice to have it all explained so fully.

There were pacing problems. I especially noticed them in the beginning when CJ was preparing for Thanksgiving dinner by winding up and setting out many different clocks at his house. It was interesting to read about that tradition, but it did slow down the plot because of how much time was spent discussing it without really mentioning why this was so important to him or to his family. I would have liked to have at least one hint early on about what was going on there. Those scenes felt out of place to me without it.

With that being said, the world building in this books was really well done. It only became more complex over time, and that made me eager to see how everything would connect together by the last scene. The author did a nice job of slowly revealing each layer to what was going on in Furtwangen, the clock world, and why some of the things that were shared early on could be interpreted in all kinds of ways depending on how much you knew about them.

The other difficulty I had with the storyline had to do with how many new terms were thrown at CJ. There were terms for the various factions in the clock world who were at war with each other, and there were also terms for people who had certain powers or identities there as well. I found it confusing to keep up with all of these terms because of how quickly the main character was introduced to them. Many of them were introduced at once, and not all of them were explained right away. This made it hard to remember what they all meant.

Fuzee was so brave and kind. I liked the fact that she was the first person CJ met when he travelled to Furtwangen. She balanced out his cautious and sometimes less trustful personality nicely, especially once the plot sped up and both of these characters began to find themselves in dangerous situations. Some of my favorite scenes were the ones where CJ and Fuzee simply showed the audience their unique responses to all of the unexpected things that happened to them. Her personality complemented his perfectly.

The Tick Tock Man was a wild ride. I’d recommend it to anyone who is in the mood for an adventure.

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