by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves
YA fantasy. 239 pp.
Joey Harker isn't a hero.
In fact, he's the kind of guy who gets lost in his own house.
But one day, Joey gets really lost. He walks straight tout of his world and into another dimension.
Joey's walk between worlds makes him prey to armies of magic and science, both determined to harness Joey's power to ravel between the dimensions. The only thing standing in their way is Joey—or, more precisely, an army of Joeys, all from different dimensions and all determined to save the worlds.
Now Joey must make a choice: return to the life he knows or join the battle to the end.
I enjoyed this book. What I found most intriguing was the alternate reality in which it played out. Essentially, every time a significant decision has to be made, a world splits, each of the two worlds following the path of one of the opposing decisions. That said, the realm of worlds exist on a plane that shifts from magic to science, the bulk of the worlds residing in that center space.
So when Joey inadvertently Walks between worlds, flags are set off as the civilizations existing at the extremes vie to capture Joey (and the other Joeys) to harness his essence to conquer the universe. Through this all, Joey must learn who he is and who he wants to be. (This summary doesn't do the story any justice at all, which I guess would explain why the authors had difficulty summarizing it to pitch it to television producers. A crying shame, really, because this would serialize fantastically.)
Joey is extremely likable. He's flawed in believable ways but emotionally endearing. Whereas the conflict in the plot does seem to stem from his decisions, it wasn't the kind of conflict where I spent the bulk of my time muttering about how stupid he was. I don't know how much of the writing was Gaiman's and how much was Reaves', but I'm starting to understand why people praise it so. (Which makes me look forward to reading Coraline now that I have it.)
As a complete and utter side note . . . Remember how Gaiman won the Newbery this year for Graveyard Book? I found a new reason to love Gaiman after reading his blog post about his experience:
You are on a speakerphone with at least 14 teachers and librarians and suchlike great, wise and good people, I thought. Do not start swearing like you did when you got the Hugo. This was a wise thing to think because otherwise huge, mighty and fourletter swears were gathering. I mean, that's what they're for. I think I said, You mean it's Monday?
"You can tell your agent and your publisher, but no-one else," said Rose. "And it will be announced in about an hour."
And I fumfed and mumbled and said something of a thankyouthankyouthankyouokaythiswasworthbeingwokenupfor nature.
Then I phoned my agent and my publisher, both of whom seemed to have intuited my news already through secret methods, but it may have just been that I was calling them on this particular Monday morning (and, in retrospect, someone must have phoned someone to get my home phone number). (Merrilee-my-agent: "You didn't start swearing, did you?" Me: "No." Her: "Oh good.")