Interworld is a really fun sci-fi adventure. I read this with one of my sons and while it fits its Juvenile category, we both enjoyed it. It contains a really interesting backdrop of a multi-dimensional universes where the sliver that contains versions with alternate Earth’s is the focus, the Altiverse. It plays out well with interesting, if not deep characters. This book is a lot like a good sci-fi summer film; it’s a great, fun ride with quick moving narrative hitting all the right spots for what it’s trying to do for its target audience (and beyond). No Oscars but a lot of fun.
Messrs. Gaiman and Reaves put out a delightful tale of a kid who is not “in” or cool who finds out why he’s misfit – he fits better in the Altiverse than just the sliver of it that’s our Earth. So taking the notion that our choices bring out a slew of Voltairian possible worlds, having a slice of these possible worlds contain alternate Earths and having a team work as a force that keeps balance been HEX (magical forces) and Binary (Science/Technology forces) who try to dominate the Altiverse and mixing in uncontrollable creatures who slip between all of the multidimensional universe (including those that don’t contain Earths) provides the quest for the protagonist, Joey Harker.
There are not a lot of deep messages or delving into social issues. It does incorporate themes familiar to this genre for Juveniles – misfits have a place, the risky choices we make that are based on doing the right thing and listening to our gut are the right ones, even when they cost and our greatest help and allies come from unlikely sources.
A couple of criticisms I’ve seen in some reviews
– Gee, this is really different from many of Gaiman’s books, he’s really good, and so that’s really bad.
– It’s not deep or adult enough even though it’s focused on the Juvenile age bracket.
Neil Gaiman is a really great writer. Interworld does not primarily exhibit his “voice” that’s present in Coraline and other books. Does this make this book a major disappointment or bad book? That’s a little like saying Catch Me if You Can or Raiders of the Lost Ark are bad because they are not Schindler’s List. I love that deceptively simply voice of Mr. Gaiman and the surprising journey on which he takes you. I love ending up in places I would never anticipate. That’s not, however, the only legitimate writing and this isn’t Mr. Gaiman’s book; it’s his and Reaves. I think we would be doing Mr. Reaves a disservice if we didn’t expect something a little different from their collaboration than pure Gaiman.
It terms of being adult enough, it’s pure, pop-corn smacking fun that I can feel comfortable with my son reading.
**** Light Spoiler ****
Do I agree with all of their choices? No. So what? I would have preferred an ending where the Old Man acknowledged that they incorrectly drummed Joey out and should have believed him. Yes a little humility goes a long way, but that should also go both ways.
Given the theoretical processing power of the Binary (of whom we learn little), you would think they would search through Earths with variants of “Joe Harker” name and some algorithm to look for similar faces to known Harker-variants and hunt them down.
Mrs. Harker and Mr. Dismas are almost too amazing and cool. I really like them but are they too good?
These are all nits. The story is great, the world is fabulous, and the characters are cool (even though not deeply developed). In terms of story mechanics, it nails them all – enough evil without making it to personal or gruesome for the targeted age bracket, a clear opening to continue the series with a genuine ending of the current book and terrific pacing.
Note: I switched between the Kindle version of this and the Audible version read by Christopher Evan Welch. Mr. Welch does a fine job with the character’s voice. I think it was a good choice to have him also read the sequel, The Silver Dream.
I highly recommend Interworld to anyone ready to have some fun with Sci-Fi on the lighter side. I will definitely read The Silver Dream, as will my son.