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InterWorld (InterWorld Trilogy) Paperback – April 29, 2008
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A lad discovers that he can walk between alternate Earthsand is swept up in a war between them in this fast-paced, compulsively readable tale. Joey gets lost in his own house, but when he steps into a patch of fog and finds himself in a world where he died, a trillion Earths lie open to himarranged in a vast arc, with an empire of science-based planes at one end and a realm where magic rules at the other. Recruited into an army of anything-but-identical Joeys gathered from many of these worlds and charged with maintaining the balance of power, Joey picks up companions both human and non as he travels the multidimensional In Between that links the sprawling "Altiverse." In this first of what could and should be many episodes, Joey finishes his basic training by doing battle with melodramatically evil magic workers Lord Dogknife and Lady Indigo. Vivid, well-imagined settings and characters compensate for weak links in the internal logic of this rousing sf/fantasy hybrid. Peters, John --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
“A mind-stretching ride for which all tweens and teens (and many adults) will be grateful.” (Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) (starred review))
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Helping to maintain the balance across the "altiverse" is Joey Harker - and an infinite number of variations of him from the infinite number of other universes - an individual with the unique ability to cross between universes, and thereby thwart the efforts of one side ("Hex" from the magical end of the spectrum) or the other ("Binary" from the scientific end of the spectrum.) To compliate matters, both Hex and the Binaries want and use Joeys (or Jay, or Jai or whatever he may be called from whatever other universe he is from) to power their crafts to similarly cross between universes and thereby conquor them and bring them under their dominion.
A pity, then, that with such a wonderful premise the protagonist is such a dud. Time and again young Joey Harker shows himself to be selfish, silly, short-sighted and generally a knuckle-head that I had a difficult time not only relating to, but having any shred of sympathy for. In this respect, I echo what many other reviewers have written: this is very much unlike Gaiman. To be fair, the book is marketed (and perhaps targeted towards?) a younger set of readers; in this respect, perhaps, Joey may be much more like the teens the book is aimed at than myself. This would certainly explain my lukewarm feelings about the book. Nonetheless, I am sure that Gaiman fans will overlook these misgivings and enjoy his storytelling nonetheless.
Imagery characterized by strong reliance both implicitly and explicitly on popular movies and TV shows. Implicitly, authors describe an image (for example, a grin turning over on itself) that directly evokes a particular famous image (the T1000's demise in T2); more notably, the narrative is full of express comparisons to various contemporary movies and TV shows.
Although the plot gets very ambitious, if not convoluted, as is customary with Gaiman's works he maintains a clear over-arching logic to the various special powers and plot developments. It is as a matter of fact quite impressive how seamlessly and effortlessly so many plot complications are handled.
This does lack, of course, the depth of characterization, the believability of characters, or the luminous prose of Gaiman's best work. But it does not aspire to be more than what it is, a light tale well-told.