Authors: Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves
Published: HarperCollins, 2007
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction / Fantasy.
Neil Gaiman is the very model of a modern science fiction author. Michael Reaves is a scriptwriter and author of many movie and TV tie-in novels, not to mention a producer of many animated television series. They are both about as famous as people in the SF/F field can get. They are also friends, and as such they had been kicking around an amusing story idea for over a decade.
If there are parallel universes (as one interpretation of quantum mechanics predicts), and if it is possible to travel between them, and if this ability is limited to just one special individual, well, then, this individual would surely exist in many universes, and might well meet up with alternate versions of him/herself when e traveled. And obviously this ability to travel between worlds would draw the attention of powerful beings in many universes, many of who would want to harness it for their own use.
Enter Joey Harker, and variations thereof, who suddenly discovers that he is this individual. After accidentally jumping between worlds one day, he finds that he is the target of three separate groups: the Binary, a metagovernment controlling multiple worlds that are highly technologically developed; the HEX, an enemy of Binary that controls a hegemony of worlds with strong magical powers; and InterWorld, a group of... Joey. InterWorld is composed entirely of Joeys from various worlds; some male, some female, some descended from birds or wolves rather than apes, some magic users and some cyborgs, but all of them Joey. InterWorld has but one goal: do what damage they can to Binary and HEX.
Joey learns that Binary and HEX have extremely unpleasant ways of harnessing his special powers to allow them to travel through parallel worlds, expanding their power base. Many thousands of Joeys have died to fuel transworld ships, but those that still survive have banded together to fight back.
A full recounting of the plot would be redundant, but briefly, boy meets self, boy is abducted by evil powers, boy fights back. This is a hard book to write a review about, because you've just heard the meat of it. The value of InterWorld lies in the fast moving story, with lots of action. This story was originally conceived as an action adventure television feature, and it shows. I must admit that I haven't read anything by Michael Reaves before, but I have read Neil Gaiman's work, and I was surprised at how ingenuous the writing style of this book was. This reads like the first book of a writer who will someday be very good, and who maybe needs to get a new editor. Dialog lumps and handwavium abound.
Having said that, this is still a fun book, and I quite enjoyed it. The writing style is easy and engaging, and a lot happens in 239 pages. I personally might have put it in the children's section rather than the Young Adult section, and I'll not reread it as often as I read my favorite children's books, but it was good fun.