InterWorld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves
Plot Summary: One day, Joey Harker finds out that he is only one of many Joeys. It turns out that the world that we know actually has many different dimensions and Joey Harker is only one Joey in one world. He meets a young man who looks a lot like him in a metallic suit who takes Joey to the InterWorld. InterWorld is an organization that trains lots of Joeys to take care of the problems that often happen in the dimensions between worlds. Terrifying interdimensional life forms such as Mrs. Indigo and the Jellyfish Man want to boil the essence out of these dimensional warriors because their life force can power ships. Joey, J/O, Jai, and a few other versions will have to team up to save the world.
Critical Analysis: As a fan of Gaiman's work, I'm quite familiar with his writing style. InterWorld feels very familiar, which is both good and bad. It's good because Neil Gaiman's characters and storytelling ability is always superb and enjoyable no matter what the situation. It's bad because sometimes the writing feels a little too familiar. Gaiman tends to write strange and creepy villains mixed with clever humor, but he's pulled it off with more success in books like Neverwhere.
Reaves, originally a television script writer, seems to lend some new style to the table. Reaves and Gaiman often break the fourth wall as the narrator will tell the reader that he wouldn't have said this, but he'll tell you later, et cetera. This style brings the reader in and helps with the humor, so it was enjoyable.
Unfortunately, InterWorld is oddly paced and difficult to follow especially for a young adult book. At the beginning, Gaiman and Reaves spend almost no time introducing the reader to Joey our protagonist and as a result I had a hard time pulling for him to battle his interdimensional demons. Since Joey and company are always jumping from dimension to dimension, the story gets a little hard to follow because everything moves so fast. If Gaiman and Reaves had slowed down the book a bit and taken some time to focus on Jay and the rest of his ragtag crew, InterWorld would have been much more enjoyable. Instead, as a result, we get a bland crew in an interesting world with good descriptions.
Reader's Annotation: Joey was just a regular teenager until he met a clone of himself from another dimension. Now he and a few other versions of Joey must save one dimension to save them all.
Author Information: Neil Gaiman is a British writer who got his start in comics with acclaimed titles such as Black Orchid and the World Fantasy Award-winning Sandman series. He and Reaves had InterWorld as a television script in the 90s, but no networks picked it up. They decided to write their ideas into this book, hoping a solid well-told story would interest some network executives.
Source: the back of the book
Genre: young adult, science fiction
Curriculum Ties: N/A
Booktalking Ideas: Ask if a science fiction Saturday morning cartoon would work. Which ones can you already think of?
Try inventing or drawing your own multidimensional life form, or "mudluffs" as Gaiman and Reaves call them.
Reading Level: Ages 9-12
Challenge Issues: N/A
Challenge Defense Ideas: No challenge issues come to mind when reading this book. The best defense is having a strong knowledge of the book, so becoming familiar with it by reading reviews, finding other opinions, and reading it one's self is a good start. One could also refer to the library's collection development policy here.
Why I included this title: As previously mentioned, Gaiman is a favorite author of mine and this is a standby whenever I have to recommend science fiction to teens. It also reminds me of William Sleator's The Duplicate, one of my favorite young adult books when I was that age. This book also has appeal to both sexes because it features strong female characters.