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The Homeward Bounders

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  4,088 ratings  ·  199 reviews
When They threw Jamie out to the Boundaries, he was at first too shocked and amazed to make much sense of it. He'd been told he could go Home if he found himself in the right world, but life seemed to be a succession of strange countries -some pleasant, most dangerous-where survival was all that mattered.Little by little, though, Jamie realized that there was a curious log ...more
Hardcover, 265 pages
Published May 1st 2002 by Greenwillow Books (first published 1981)
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Average rating 3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,088 ratings  ·  199 reviews

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Feb 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: D&D dorks, the children i love (not necessarily in that order)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Melissa McShane
In her twelfth published novel, Diana Wynne Jones again does something new; The Homeward Bounders has a little bit of Dogsbody, a little bit of Power of Three, but mostly it's just itself. Young Jamie goes poking around where he shouldn't and is found by Them, mysterious cloaked creatures who appear to be playing an enormous strategy game with the world--and they deal with Jamie's intrusion by making him a Homeward Bounder. Now Jamie is forced to travel between worlds, pulled by an insistent dem ...more
May 27, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not that I cannot or will not review a young adult fantasy, but more likely I am just not attuned to realizing and articulating what is best with this novel.

The author is certainly very talented, the story is well crafted and blends more mature elements into a fine adventure story that many young readers will very probably enjoy, but … I just could not get into it, much more of a YA book than what I was expecting.

Emily Collins
Dec 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk-authors
You all know how much I love Diana Wynne Jones.
I discovered this book only a few weeks ago, when I picked it up from an HPB.
I did not like this book.

Now, don't get me wrong - it was fascinating. I read it in maybe three days. I couldn't put it down. I needed to know what happened next. NEEDED TO.
This is one of the most complex yet richly rewarding reads that I have come across. It was like reading all of Pullman's Dark Materials in one book (sort of). The subject matter and idea was complex but the plot and characters were so engaging. Unlike Charmed Life, I thought this was a challenging read both in concept and an writing but it was infinitely all the better for it. Based on the idea that all worlds are controlled by gamers who played with our lives, one young boy, Jamie, having disco ...more
Mar 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am terrible at remembering exact lines, even for poetry or songs, where you'd think the rhythm or sound would help. I regard all the characters in Tam Lin who can quote poetry-- or even the characters in Buffy who can quote movies -- word-perfect with suspicion and envy. I get the scansion right but one of the words wrong or the sense right but not the phrase and worst of it is, I know it's wrong -- I just can't remember what the right version is.

I've always remembered the last line of this ri
Lara Mi

“You wouldn't believe how lonely it gets.”

The Homeward Bounders is definitely unique and takes place in a world that is very typical for Daina Wynne Jones. She does seem to love her universes having multiple worlds, often based on or around ours. When it comes to world variety, it seems very similar to the Chrestomanci series, only that unlike there, the characters in this book have no choice but to travel from world to world.

I loved how the plot came to a nice circle by the end of the book
Elizabeth Boatman
Jun 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Diana Wynne Jones is one of my favorite writers. I go to her when I need a jolt of something entirely different and unexpected. This has all the usual Jones elements: parallel worlds, girls with magical gifts, mythic beings, and the play on words and logic. As with Fire and Hemlock you may have to read the ending twice to figure out exactly how it all played out.

The protagonist, Jamie Hamilton, is a compelling character. He's a twelve-year-old boy from a lower class family. He's not interested
Tam G
Solid 3.5 stars.

This is one of those books that kind of defies expectation. Diana Wynne Jones is a lovely writer, and she understands dialogue and how not to over-explain things. This one started with a sheer sense of wonder. Not because the main character has a sense of wonder. He was very pragmatic and plain. The plain explanations, how obviously the main character doesn't understand the things he sees, ignites a sense of curiosity. It feels real.

The middle is kind of up and down. There are
Alex Ankarr
Reading this book may hurt you. It's that beautiful, and that sad. But it's worth it. ...more
Apr 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, dwj
"Are you one? Do you call us Homeward Bounders too?"
"That is the name to all of us is given," he said to me sadly.
"Oh," I said. "I thought I'd made it up."

Jamie Hamilton is twelve going on thirteen, living in a past which we can establish is 1879. But when, in exploring his town, he comes across a mysterious building where cloaked and hooded figures flit about his curiosity get the better of him and, by intruding on them, he becomes an outcast from the life with which he has grown familiar.

And i
Eve Tushnet
Aug 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read dozens of DWJ's books (ok... 16) and this one has the most haunting ending. It's an outlier in other ways too. Although there is a found family, it doesn't have much about Jones's trademark absent or self-absorbed parents; and it delves further into horror than she usually does, both in imagery like Helen's cannibal hand and in the distorted mindset of the boy who keeps declaring how much he loves being a slave. The latter is mostly played for very grim comedy, and a lot of this book's ...more
neglect, abuse, cannibalism, mention of suicide, violence, slavery, racism, internalized ableism.

Wow, this was pretty dark for a middle grade book, I’m sure there are others as such, but damn. I only read this because Mixed Magics, by this author, makes a reference to this book. I don’t regret it and would like to reread sometime.
I don't really know what rating to give this book, I guess 3.5 would be about right. It's a very imaginative story, which doesn't quite explain itself. I found myself re-reading paragraphs quite often to try and make sense of what was happening. For a children's book I think it's somewhat complex but on the other hand, maybe a child would just accept the concepts without trying to understand them! It's well written with interesting characters and despite a rather repetitive theme, it manages to ...more
E.B. Dawson
Jul 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved the concept behind this one, but I almost feel like it would have worked better as an adult scifi thriller. Some of the rules at the end and with the "final battle" were super confusing to me. And the ending was definitely pretty melancholy. But I think overall it is one of the most thought-provoking novels I've read from this author. As a person who has trouble identifying "home" and yet it is often haunted by homesickness, there were many scenes and elements of this book that hit home fo ...more
Brandy Painter
Originally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.

I am still making my way through Diana Wynne Jones's backlist. I probably wouldn't have read The Homeward Bounders for a long time to come as it's currently out of print in the the US (except as an e-book) if it weren't for a conversation on Twitter I had with Sage Blackwood in which she said she heard some consider it to be a metaphor for life as a military kid. My interest level rose exponentially and she was kind enough to send me an o
Julie Davis
Dec 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Following my reading of Dogsbody, I went on to this book in sampling Diana Wynne Jones' oeuvre. She came up with yet another completely different concept, unique world system, and set of problems to solve. As well, Jamie, the protagonist seems different from those I read about in Howl's Moving Castle and Dogsbody.

Jamie has a happy enough life with his family in a poor but active neighborhood of a large city. One day, when delivering groceries for his father's store, he happens upon a building th
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-books
A wonderful discovery. Jamie's disrespect for boundaries and nosiness get him to stumble into 'Them' and 'their game', thus being made a Discart and sent on a journey through hundreds of worlds as a 'Homeward Bounder', is only hope of escaping the endless circle being to find his way back home along the way. Jamie is a strong-minded, no-nonsense troublemaker - not the sort of hero we are used from Diana Wynne Jones, but one that makes perfect sense for this story. I loved him and liked the book, ...more
Clare Snow
I read this so many times when I was a kid, I may be able to recite it word for word. I still have that book - not in quite the state it started out. Stupid 30yr old paperbacks.

There's a character, Helen, with an elephant trunk for an arm - who couldn't love that 🐘 And I NEEDED her amazing hair cut.

This was my intro to parallel universes. I still love them with a passion.

In Yr 9 I read about worm holes in Scientific American. I gave a class talk about worm holes and how its factually possible to
Serena W. Sorrell
This is, to date, my favorite standalone DWJ. Yes, there were a few dragging parts, but I felt at the end they were necessary for Jamie's story.

And any book that makes me cry is a good book. That ending had me in awe.

As always DWJ makes a world, or worlds, that are so utterly fantastic you have no choice but to believe they're real. Every bit of it flowed perfectly to the next.
Nov 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Complicated and deep. As if the writer has some sort of mental illness. Still a children's book but there is a sadness and deep meaning inside I can't seem to comprehend. ...more
Jan 27, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

Remember the TV show Sliders? This is a bit like that (although originally published 15 years earlier), but with far better twists. Lots of them.

Definitely prime DWJ!
[September 2005 review.] The more DWJ I read the more I can pick out what themes she likes to use, similarities between different stories, so at the very beginning this book reminded me of her Hexwood, but it ended up being very different. I really liked this one -- reviews on Amazon point out that this is one of her more somber, darker books and I think it's one of her best that I've read so far. The premise is that every world ia game played by Them, and if you discover this you get sentenced ...more
Aug 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
Diana Wynne Jones was a wildly uneven writer. Even her worst stuff is better than many writers' best stuff. This book is one of her best - for the first 2/3 of it - and then it completely disintegrates. It feels as if she suddenly realized that it was shaping up to be a really long book and she was about to hit a major deadline like, the next day, so she threw in a ton of deus ex machina and bam, finished it. This is a damn shame because if it only had just kept going the way it started it would ...more
Angela Randall
This was a lovely little escape from reality. I hate giving spoilers, so I won't go into details. Just pick it up and have a read.

Diana Wynne Jones has a real talent for inventing worlds and telling a story. I do also love how she's basically timed how long it takes a young reader to get bored and will jump in with something intriguing to keep them going. If you're looking to be a writer, you could do worse than to study this master.
Lia Marcoux
Apr 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I re-read this yesterday and liked it far more than I remembered! It's a bit like a greatest-hits of Diana Wynne Jones; series of worlds with stepping-stone travels, ghostly implacable beings, a strong interest in games and technology and plenty of mind-twisty logic. It's also rather sad, but not unendurably so. If you liked Hexwood and Deep Secret and Archer's Goon, odds are you'll like this one. ...more
May 19, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
oh my god, THIS BOOK IS TOO DEPRESSING. No wonder I haven't read it in ten years and blocked out most of it (although nothing will ever block out "But you wouldn't believe how lonely you get"). brb, SOBBING. ...more
Caitlin Goodwin
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic book. DWJ does it again!
William Leight
May 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“The Homeward Bounders” is one of Diana Wynne Jones’s best novels, which means that it’s really really good. One of its strongest aspects, and something that Jones generally does very well in her books, is the way that the story is constructed. I don’t just mean the plot here, though that is certainly part of it: it might be thought of as closer to worldbuilding, though not in the way that the term is usually used these days to refer to the careful construction of internally coherent worlds with ...more
May 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Diana was born in London, the daughter of Marjorie (née Jackson) and Richard Aneurin Jones, both of whom were teachers. When war was announced, shortly after her fifth birthday, she was evacuated to Wales, and thereafter moved several times, including periods in Coniston Water, in York, and back in London. In 1943 her family finally settled in Thaxted, Essex, where her parents worked running an ed ...more

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“If you like, you can all think of it as my gift to you. I never had much else to give. You can get on and play your own lives as you like, while I just keep moving. This story of it all can be another gift. I’ve made an arrangement with Adam. When I’ve finished, which is almost now, I’m going to put the bundle of papers in the garden of the Old Fort, before I move on. Adam’s going to get them and take them to his father. And if you read it and don’t believe it’s real, so much the better. It will make another safeguard against Them.

But you wouldn’t believe how lonely you get.”
“There are no rules. Only principles and natural laws.” 7 likes
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