Joey Harker has never been known for his sense of direction. In fact, rumor has it that he has gotten lost in his own home. In most cases, his embarrassing lack of bearings is quickly remedied, but one day he takes a wrong turn that lands him in a whole new dimension -- and a bundle of trouble. In InterWorld, famed adult science fiction author Neil Gaiman and Emmy Awardwinning writer Michael Reaves catapult readers into a universe where the hero literally multiples.
What InterWorld gets exactly right…[is] the all-too-real childhood fear that if we're away from comfortable surroundings for too long, our families and loved ones might eventually forget who we are, and that someday we might never be able to return…[InterWorld's] purpose is not to dispel this fear for its readers, but rather to provide them with irresistible incentive to take those tentative first steps into unpredictable worlds beyond.
The New York Times
This parallel universe adventure would surely have been more exciting when its authors first conceived it in 1995; today it feels somewhat like a gee-whiz amalgam of The Matrix, comic book multiverses and Ender's Game. High-schooler Joey Harker has a terrible sense of direction; during a field trip he gets lost and ends up in a world where the McDonald's arches are green plaid, his mother doesn't recognize him and everything has been altered to varying degrees. He is rescued by a mysterious man named Jay (who looks like an older version of Joey) and learns that he has "Walked" between two of millions of coexisting worlds, landing in one where he drowned a year earlier. Joey finds himself the target of two warring peoples-one technology-driven, the other possessing mystical abilities-who capture Walkers like himself to harness their power. The action takes Joey to an academy at InterWorld, where hundreds of other kids who resemble him (and who all have the initials J.H.) train to "defend and protect the Altiverse from those who would harm it or bend it to their will." Gaiman devotees, used to headier stuff, may be disappointed. Ages 10-up. (July)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
VOYA - Timothy Capehart
Fourteen-year-old Joey Harker has become lost in his own house. Imagine his surprise when he finds that he can walk among realities. In every version of the universe, there is a Joey Harker who is as different from the real Joey as that universe is from his home. Sometimes the newly encountered Joey is different enough that he is a she, or has wings, or is part robot. Imagine his further surprise when he makes his way to InterWorld and learns that these other near-Joeys not only walk between the universes, but they also form an army dedicated to keeping the balance in the cosmos. The Altiverse is a bell curve with pure science worlds at one extreme and pure magic worlds at the other; most worlds and their accompanying universes fall in the middle. The evil organization HEX (magic) is working to take over more universes from one direction while The Binary (science) is working from the other. The hitch is that neither group can travel between the universes without the power within a person like Joey. Emmy-winning television writer Reaves and speculative-fiction-god Gaiman devised their idea a decade ago. They wrote the novel to shop around to television production houses but got no bites. After a decade and some polish on the old manuscript, DreamWorks Animation has optioned the rights. Here is David Gerrold's The Man Who Folded Himself (Random House, 1973) crossed with the Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny seasoned with Gaiman's own Books of Magic and a little of Edwin Abbott's Flatland. This paean to Robert A. Heinlein's juvenilia is a vocabulary and mind-stretching ride for which all tweens and teens (and many adults) will be grateful. Be prepared to tell readers that despite theopen-endedness, there are not any sequels in the works . . . yet.
Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
An old TV pitch finds new life in this collaborative work. Reluctant hero Joey Harker gets lostreally lost. In fact, he is lost between dimensions. It all starts with a Social Studies assignment from an eccentric teacher that leaves teams of kids stranded blindfolded in various parts of the city. Before long, Joey finds himself in an altered reality, a theme that readers of Gaiman's Coraline and The Wolves in the Walls may find familiar. Joey is a Walker, and it appears that he is being sought for this skill he never knew he had. Naturally, he expects his teacher Mr. Dimas to have a rational answer, but what he finds out is far from easy to understand. The Joey our hero thought he was is dead. The pace escalates furiously as Joey is pursued by magical and scientific armies. It soon becomes apparent that his last hope lies in constructing a fighting force composed of the multiple versions of himself from parallel realities. Esoteric cultural references from the musical and gaming worlds are sprinkled about. Young readers might miss them, but they will absorb the atmospherics they impart. The fantasy world here is crafted in great detail. Joey's alter egos are quirky and interesting, if sketchily drawn. Only the Jai character is disappointingly stereotypical, a predictable yogi with a faux Apu accent. In contrast, Mr. Dimas is both sympathetic and believable. Plenty of twists and turns in this fast-paced story are likely to keep readers engaged, in spite of the slight character development, cardboard villains, and sometimes predictable storyline.
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up At 16, Joey Harker has just realized that he can literally walk into alternate realities. He quickly discovers that versions of himself from other worlds can also live on a secret base known as InterWorld. From here, an army of Joeys, of all different ages and characteristics, battle two evil groups bent on ruling all the earths in the Altiverse. The HEX uses magic, the Binary relies on science, while the Joeys fight to maintain the naturally occurring balance of these forces. These dueling factions make for a unique representation of good and evil, and the book's setting is equally imaginative. The "In-Between," a colorful, chaotic realm where Picassoesque objects morph in and out of existence, is described with vivid graphic imagery. The explanations of the In-Between and other dimensions gradually make sense to readers, as they do to Joey, who is at first realistically skeptical. Packed with harrowing chase scenes through these fascinating realms, the plot moves quickly from the initial explanations to Joey's training on InterWorld, to his climactic confrontation with Lord Dogknife, the grotesque leader of the HEX. With his sarcastic sense of humor and superhuman abilities, Joey is a hero whom teens, even reluctant readers, will cheer for.-Emily Rodriguez, Alachua County Library District, Gainesville, FL
Read an Excerpt
By Neil Gaiman
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. Copyright © 2007 Neil Gaiman
All right reserved.
Once I got lost in my own house.
I guess it wasn't quite as bad as it sounds. We had just built a new annex—added a hallway and a bedroom for the squid, aka Kevin, my really little brother—but still, the carpenters had left and the dust had settled over a month ago. Mom had just sounded the dinner call and I was on my way downstairs. I took a wrong turn on the second floor and found myself in a room wallpapered with clouds and bunnies. I realized I'd turned right instead of left, so I promptly made the same mistake again and blundered into the closet.
By the time I got downstairs Jenny and Dad were already there and Mom was giving me the Look. I knew trying to explain would sound lame, so I just clammed up and dug in to my mac and cheese.
But you see the problem. I don't have what my aunt Maude used to call a "bump of direction." If anything, I've got a hollow where the bump should be. Forget knowing north from south or east from west—I have a hard enough time telling right from left. Which is all pretty ironic, considering how things turned out . . .
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Okay. I'm going to write this like Mr. Dimas taught us. He said it doesn't matter where you start, as long as you start somewhere. So I'm going to start with him.
It was the end of the October term of my sophomore year, and everythingwas pretty normal, except for Social Studies, which was no big surprise. Mr. Dimas, who taught the class, had a reputation for unconventional teaching methods. For midterms he had blindfolded us, then had us each stick a pin in a map of the world and we got to write essays on wherever the pin stuck. I got Decatur, Illinois. Some of the guys complained because they drew places like Ulan Bator or Zimbabwe. They were lucky. You try writing ten thousand words on Decatur, Illinois.
But Mr. Dimas was always doing stuff like that. He made the front page of the local paper last year and nearly got fired when he turned two classes into warring fiefdoms that tried to negotiate peace for an entire semester. The peace talks eventually broke down and the two classes went to war on the quad during free period. Things got a little carried away and a few bloody noses resulted. Mr. Dimas was quoted on the local news as saying, "Sometimes war is necessary to teach us the value of peace. Sometimes you need to learn the real value of diplomacy in avoiding war. And I'd rather my students learned those lessons on the playground than on the battlefield."
Rumor at school was that he was going to be canned for that one. Even Mayor Haenkle was pretty annoyed, seeing as how his son's nose was one of the ones bloodied. Mom and Jenny—my younger sister—and I sat up late, drinking Ovaltine and waiting for Dad to come home from the city council meeting. The squid was fast asleep in Mom's lap—she was still breast-feeding him back then. It was after midnight when Dad came in the back door, tossed his hat on the table and said, "The vote was seven to six, in favor. Dimas keeps his job. My throat's sore."
Mom got up to fix Dad some tea, and Jenny asked Dad why he'd gone to bat for Mr. Dimas. "My teacher says he's a troublemaker."
"He is," Dad said. "—Thanks, hon." He sipped the tea, then went on. "He's also one of the few teachers around who actually cares about what he's doing, and who has more than a spoonful of brains to do it with." He pointed his pipe at Jenny and said, "Past the witching hour, sprite. You belong in bed."
That was how Dad was. Even though he's just a city councilman, he has more sway among some people than the mayor does. Dad used to be a Wall Street broker, and he still handles stocks for a few of Greenville's more prominent citizens, including several on the school board. The councilman job takes only a few days a month most of the year, so Dad drives a cab most days. I asked him once why he did it, since his investments keep the wolf from the door even without Mom's home jewelry business, and he said he liked meeting new people.
You'd think that nearly getting fired might've thrown a scare into Mr. Dimas and gotten him to back off a little, but no such luck. His idea for this year's Social Studies final was pretty extreme even for him. He divided our class into ten teams of three each, blindfolded us again—he was big on blindfolds—and had a school bus drop us off at random places in the city. We were supposed to find our way to various checkpoints within a certain time without maps. One of the other teachers asked what this had to do with Social Studies, and Mr. Dimas said that everything was Social Studies. He confiscated all cell phones, phone cards, credit cards and cash so we couldn't call for rides or take buses or cabs. We were on our own.
And that was where it all began.
It's not like we were in any real danger—downtown Greenville isn't downtown LA or New York or even downtown Decatur, Illinois. The worst that might happen would be an old lady clobbering us with her purse if one of us was foolish enough to try to help her across 42nd Avenue. Still, I was partnered with Rowena Danvers and Ted Russell, which meant that this was going to be interesting.
The school bus pulled away in a cloud of diesel smoke and we took our blindfolds off. We were downtown—that much was obvious. It was the . . .
Excerpted from InterWorld by Neil Gaiman Copyright © 2007 by Neil Gaiman. Excerpted by permission.
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