Sunday, July 1, 2007


By Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves
Reviewed by Carl V.

I would like to start out by saying I did not have high expectations for the novel Interworld, a collaboration by my favorite author, Neil Gaiman, and Emmy-award winning Michael Reaves. For an author of Neil Gaiman's caliber, this book really flew under the radar, which is normally not a good sign. I mention this to tell you that my impressions of the story do not come out of an 'Oh yeah! Neil wrote a new book. It is gonna rock!' mindset, only to find those hopes dashed upon the rocks of an average story. As I say, my expectations were low. I did, however, have an open mind. After all, this is Neil Gaiman!

Interworld tells the story of one Joey Harker, an average high school kid with a poor sense of direction. So poor, in fact, that Joey is essentially defined by this disability. During what appears to be another wacky, though typical, class project assigned by his Social Studies teacher Joey gets lost...simply by walking. But this is no ordinary walk. Joey Harker discovers that he is a Walker, he has the ability to walk between dimensions into a place of infinitely possible worlds. What he does not know, is how he got there, why people are trying to capture him, or if he will ever get home again.

It is a nice, though unoriginal, premise and overall it works pretty well. Joey Harker is a very likeable character, written in such a way that I felt an instant connection with him. Joey Harker is a nicely written, unconventional hero. I found the first 100+ pages to be standard Young Adult fare. There were some very enjoyable moments, but at times the narrative seemed to grind to a halt. This was especially true during one passage in which a main character explains the dynamics of the interdimensional world. It felt like a very long, technical info dump that took me out of the story and made me want to skip ahead to get back into the action. The same information could have been conveyed in a more creative, interesting fashion.

As the story continued, however, it began to get more and more interesting. It felt as if the pair of writers had finally hit their stride. The turning point for me, in my decision on whether or not I was ultimately going to enjoy the book, came on page 143. The story took a turn that I had not expected, one that was surprising for the character and surprising to me as the reader. It was a moment that really made me feel for and connect with Joey Harker. From that point I read through without stopping, thoroughly engrossed in the tale. The ending, while exciting, was the kind of ending you would expect from a book that wants to become a series of books...or perhaps a television show, which is how this book came about.

Back in 1995 Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves pitched this idea for a television program. It never sparked any interest and so the authors got together to put it into novel form. It then sat around for years before being published. Neil Gaiman has multiple movies coming out in the next year and Michael Reaves has what looks to be a very interesting Star Wars book coming out in the fall. The timing was obviously right to get this one out to the stores. I don't mean that as cynically as it reads, I only mention it to say that this is not a grand work of fiction. It is an entertaining, slightly above average adventure story for young adults. There are some really fun concepts in this book, a few nicely written characters, and a side-kick for Joey Harker who, in my opinion, really makes the book worth reading.

Is it great? No, but it is good. It never once felt like a Neil Gaiman book to me, which doesn't mean that it is bad. I am simply used to more clever word usage and turns of phrase in a book with Neil's name on it. His other collaboration, Good Omens, felt like a Neil book. This one did not. It certainly doesn't affect my admiration and devotion to Neil Gaiman nor has it stemmed my enthusiasm for Michael Reaves' upcoming book, Star Wars: Death Star.

If you are in the mood for a quick, entertaining romp through multi-dimensional worlds with a very likeable hero, then give it a read. I enjoyed it, but would not recommend a person lay aside whatever book they are currently reading to snatch it up. I consider this as an enjoy-it-once book, and for a hardcore re-reader and a hardcore Neil Gaiman fan, that is an unusual way to feel.

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