Authors: Neil Gaiman and Michael Reeves
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Age Level: 7th Grade and Up
Joey Harker is a normal 15 year old boy. Not hugely popular, not a loser-just one of those average guys you can find at any American high school. That is, until his teacher, Mr. Dimas, devises an interesting final exam for his social studies class. Joey, Todd, and Rowena will be dropped off somewhere in their small city of Greenville, and without any money, cell phone, or help they are to find their way back to school. Sounds doable, until Joey gets them hopelessly lost. Of course, Joey doesn't realize just how far away from home he actually is-he has somehow stepped into an alternate reality, where his parents are not his parents, and people on flying disks are trying to capture him! What follows is the story of the Walkers-people who can walk between worlds, dedicated to keeping the balance in the Altiverse between the science worlds of the Binary and the magic worlds of the HEX. What Joey discovers about his many selves will astound you.
I love Neil Gaiman's work. His stories are always so creative, and his mind works in ways that are like the worlds in his fictional Altiverse-his ideas may be close to what the rest of us might come up with, but with that little something skewed that makes him totally unique. I love the idea for this novel-alternate worlds, born when important decisions are made; magical or scientific forces working at odds with each other, a small band of Walkers trying to keep the balance of power. Great stuff!
Unfortunately, the writing does not quite live up to the ideas. This story was originally intended as a television script-one that didn't get picked up, at that. It feels unfinished to me. There were about a half-a-dozen places where I wanted more story in my story. There is almost no back story about the Walkers-you learn who they are and what they do, but not where they come from. There is almost no back story about the Binary or the HEX-same deal. There are a couple of journal entries from a Walker who helps Joey, but then he dies and nothing is done with the journal again. The end is clearly not meant to be the end...I could almost hear someone in the background saying, "Next time, on Interworld..."
In a way, I'm mad about them turning it into a novel instead of shopping it around 'til they found someone to make it into a series or movie. Because, as I said, the ideas in it are challenging, fun, exciting, and engaging. If only the novel did them justice.