Interworld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves
|Interworld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: This is an entertaining diversion for the teen, but perhaps too complex for the young.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 288||Date: April 2013|
|Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books|
Joey Harker isn't a regular boy, but then his teacher isn't a regular teacher. He's one of the wacky ones that thinks nothing of dumping his class in threesomes in the middle of town, penniless and only with their guile to get back in one piece. Seeing as Joey is one of the world's more easily-lost people, never knowing which way he should be heading, perhaps it should be no surprise that he finds a different universe before he finds his destination. And then another, and another. It soon becomes clear that other people are aware of this, and have a much greater knowledge of Joey's weird powers – and demand a much greater influence on his destiny…
In this complex of multiverses where every Earth is different, two major powers are fighting for control – one geared towards science, the other towards magic. Joey is in between, and will not be given peace, but must instead train, learn and improve himself to take part in the huge conflict. This would however be a better book if there were perhaps some reason to doubt Joey's new controllers, but no, for his first person narrative is taken from too old and biased a head.
There are other problems too, at least for me. The universe-hopping is done in a different fashion every time, with all connections looking and behaving differently. This was taken from a TV series proposal, and it seems every such hopping special effect from TV sci-fi is on the page here, with no consistency. There are too complex references, to modern art or ancient Hollywood and more, and some bursts of awkward vocabulary, which strikes the reader as a contrast to the youthful aspects of the writing.
These are very much to the fore – we start by confirming the ordinariness of Joey, and his family and his childlike crush on a classmate. And from the first line on there is a great, forthright sense of the authors knowing just what kind of narrative voice their audience wants to hear – snappy, bubbly, succinct and teasing us with what's to come. But again, too much of what comes is flawed – it's as if Gaiman is just too used now to writing for adults or teens, and feels able to put too much speculative physics into the world he's created. I think he goes too far, and I think as a result the age of Joey the Narrator here is too awkwardly pitched – at times he's the age of the target audience, at other times – especially when the first gang of friends on the school trial is replaced by a very different one – he's definitely in his teens.
Still, there is a story-teller's craft on the pages of this volume, which might be carried toward the first sequel, which I shall turn to imminently. There's a wit, there's imagination in the problems the universes and more that are new to Joey cause him, and there is a snappy drive to the plot. But it does seem too off-kilter too often, and a little too much of a jumble. I think it works more as a curiosity and a passing entertainment for teens, and not on a par with the best genre fiction for the under-twelves. Still, I must thank the publishers for my review copy. We also have a review of The Silver Dream by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves.
Combat for the young in a very intriguing world turned on its head can be had with Young Knights of the Round Table by Julia Golding.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Interworld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves at Amazon.com.
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