Saturday, August 10, 2013

Review - InterWorld

InterWorld (InterWorld #1)
by Neil Gaiman & Michael Reaves
Date: 2007
Publisher: HarperCollins
Reading level: MG
Book type: prose novel
Pages: 239
Format: e-book
Source: Kobo

When Newbery Medal winner Neil Gaiman and Emmy Award winner Michael Reaves teamed up, they created the bestselling YA novel InterWorld.

InterWorld tells the story of Joey Harker, a very average kid who discovers that his world is only one of a trillion alternate earths. Some of these earths are ruled by magic. Some are ruled by science. All are at war.

Joey teams up with alternate versions of himself from an array of these worlds. Together, the army of Joeys must battle evil magicians Lord Dogknife and Lady Indigo to keep the balance of power between all the earths stable. Teens—and tweens and adults—who obsessively read the His Dark Materials and Harry Potter series will be riveted by InterWorld and its sequel, The Silver Dream.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

In the afterword, the authors say:

... we started trying to explain our idea to people, telling them about an organization entirely comprised of dozens of Jo/e/y Harkers, trying to preserve the balance between magic and science across an infinite number of possible realities, and we would watch their eyes glaze over.

If people's eyes glaze over when you merely tell them about an idea, what do you think is going to happen if they read a whole book about it?  Maybe that should've been their first clue right there...

I've had this book sitting in my TBR pile for ages.  I've bought quite a few new books recently, so I thought I should chip away at the existing pile as well.  This was a short read, so I thought it would be fast-paced and fun.  It was neither.  InterWorld reads like the script for a really bad Saturday-morning cartoon show... one that you probably wouldn't want to watch the next week, either, because it was dumb enough the first time.

In theory, the idea of infinite versions of one boy forming an organization to control the balance of magic and science in the universe isn't that bad.  In practice, however, it didn't work.  I could not connect to Joey, nor to any of his alternates.  Part of the problem may be that, because they were all Joeys, it seemed like an ultra-exclusive private club that was only important -- and relevant -- to those people.  This reader felt like she was on the outside, looking in.  Add to that the fact that I didn't find any of the Joeys particularly appealing or even interesting (aside from one who only appears in a small part of the book), and the fact that it was really difficult to tell them all apart since they all had names that were variations of the same: Jay, Jai, Jo, Jakon, Josef, Jerzey, etc.  And the main Joey... what an idiot.  I know fourteen-year-old boys can be dumb at times, but if this is the kid who's going to save the universe, we're all in major trouble.  When someone tells him not to go near a mysterious multidimensional life form because it's probably dangerous, what does he do?  I'll give you one guess, but I think you can safely assume that it's not: Listen to the more experienced person and stay the heck away from the probably-dangerous multidimensional life form.  For crying out loud...

The rest of the book was like a juvenile mish-mash of ideas and DalĂ­-esque images that had me rolling my eyes and wishing for the over-the-top villains to win.  Despite what this synopsis says, this is not a young adult book.  The narrator is fourteen, so it's clearly a middle grade title.  It most likely got bumped up to the young adult bracket because of one particularly sesquipedalian character: Jai.  Every time he opened his mouth, I had to open a separate browser window with a dictionary to figure out what he was saying.  The only time he didn't talk like a walking thesaurus was when he was about to die or be boiled by space pirates.  (Because they're all versions of the same character, Joey used a lot of unfamiliar words, too.  It was like being trapped in a bad science-fiction TV show and not having any idea what people were talking about.  I still can't figure out how a kid who can't understand, "Don't touch that!" can understand things like "chirality" and "eschewing obfuscation".)

I really don't know who I would recommend this book to, if anyone.  I really don't know why the authors thought it would be a good idea to write a book that nobody seemed interested in.  And I really don't know why there's a sequel.  It was a disappointment, all around; I thought that, with Gaiman as co-author, this would have been a lot better.

Plot: 3/5
Characters: 2/5
Pace: 2/5
Writing: 3/5
Editing: 3/5
Originality: 3/5
Enjoyment: 1/5

Overall: 2.43 out of 5

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