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The Homeward Bounders

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  4,024 ratings  ·  189 reviews
"You are now a discard. We have no further use for you in play. You are free to walk the Bounds, but it will be against the rules for you to enter play in any world. If you succeed in returning Home, then you may enter play again in the normal manner."

When Jamie unwittingly discovers the sinister, dark-cloaked Them playing games with humans' lives, he is cast out to the bo
Paperback, 224 pages
Published 1990 by Mammoth (first published 1981)
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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 ·  4,024 ratings  ·  189 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
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
Jan 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dwj, fantasy
"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
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
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
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Clare by: my Dad
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
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.
Jun 06, 2008 rated it liked it
[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
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
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.
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.
Caitlin Goodwin
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book. DWJ does it again!
William Leight
May 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
“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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Deborah Ideiosepius
This was a magical and enchanting children's book!

Twelve year old Jamie is a normal 1880's boy his family run a grocery, though his mother has aspirations for him to get enducated and be a doctor. Jamie likes to explore his city though, one day he goes over a wall into a private garden and finds people who are not really human doing things on machines he does not understand. To curious to leave it alone Jamie makes his was into Their house and discovers he has just become a random piece the gam
Ashley Lambert-Maberly
Really, by now I should trust her. I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, and at at some point in the middle I worried it was about to turn into one of those Kipling-esque, Silverlock, "let's meet random characters from legend" kind of stories, but it didn't (not really) and immediately got even better and then lurched from strength to strength until it was ending and I was crying and she did it once again. You have to wait a bit to get the off-kilter charm and whimsy of some of her books ...more
Nov 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed, to-insta
I am definitely enjoying Diana Wynne Jones' books, and I happened to come across these by chance!

In this book the story revolves around a young lad, Jamie, that discovers that our 'world' is basically a big boardgame for aliens - I'm thinking something like Risk (or at least how I understand that game is played) but because he discovers this he is cast out from his word and cursed to walk the Bounds (cross between the worlds) until he finds his Home again. The alternative worlds vary from one en
Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, childrens
a quick note: this is available on hoopla as an ebook, which is amazing given how generally difficult it is to find a great deal of DWJ's ouvre.

this is not my favorite DWJ- perhaps because it's kind of a bummer- but the concept is so well-executed and the magical conceit is -the answer to the riddle that hides in the center of the book - is explicable and interesting! it's probably more of a 3.5 star rating from me, but it's just so good at what it does.

sometimes I miss reading books in first pe
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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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