Sesana's Reviews > InterWorld

InterWorld by Neil Gaiman
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Apr 26, 11

bookshelves: parallel-dimensions, science-fiction, superhumans, young-adult
Read in April, 2011

The concept is brilliant: Joey Harker finds that he's capable of walking between worlds, alternate realities of every variety, from the fully magical to the fully technological to everything in between. And every alternate version of Joey Harker is capable of doing the same. They've gathered together as a sort of paramilitary force to keep the forces of pure magic (Hex) and pure technology (the Binary) at bay. And there's the best part of the whole book: the concept.

The story itself is a bit paint-by-numbers, a fairly generic hero's journey. There's nothing wrong with this in and of itself. It's always the window dressing that makes a hero's journey worthwhile. The problem is, this book doesn't quite have that window dressing, at least for me. The target audience seems to be ages 9-12, and I have no doubt that I would have ate it up at ages 9-12, and that many other 9-12 year-olds would as well. But I'm not ages 9-12 anymore. This is only a disappointment to me because it's billed as being co-written by Neil Gaiman, who has always before been able to cross that line into cross-demographic appeal.

I don't know what the exact arrangements were when this book was written, but I have a sneaking suspicion. Neil Gaiman's voice, which I'm very familiar with, is largely absent. Compare to Good Omens, where a reader familiar with his work and the work of Terry Pratchet will find both of their voices represented in spades. In Interworld, it's Michael Reaves all the time, with the exception of one or two lines that sounded like Neil Gaiman, so rare that I remarked on them. I suspect that the concept was cooked up together, and the vast majority of the story written by Reaves. I also have the distinct impression that it may have been originally conceived as an ongoing story (book series, or even a TV show) that only panned out into a single novel. (ETA: Aha! It was indeed planned as a pitch for an ongoing series. Might have worked, actually.) Witness the sort of open ending (adventures yet to come!) and the almost complete neglect of the Binary after their introduction.

In the end, I was disappointed with this book not because it's bad. It's not. It's pretty decent, actually. But I went in expecting and hoping for a Neil Gaiman novel, and that's not exactly what I got. Instead, I got a Micheal Reaves novel. I think that's as good a summation as any I'm likely to come up with.

I listened to the audio book, read by Christopher Evan Welch, who did a pretty good job.
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