Planesrunner (Everness, Book One)
by Ian McDonald
Cover Artist: John Picacio
Review by Mel Jacob
Pyr Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781616145415
Date: 06 December 2011 List Price $16.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Ian McDonald has written a thrilling new young adult novel with Planesrunner, the first of his Everness series. This steampunk follows the coming-of-age of teen Everret Singh after his father's kidnapping. A university physicist, working on dimensional travel, the father planned to meet his son at a museum, but is snatched off the street and carried away in a black car. The police fail to believe Everett and even doctor photos he took of the car.
Soon the father's boss arrives and demands any files or material the physicist left with Everett or his ex-wife. Later, between messages sent by his father prior to the kidnapping, but sent only after the event, arrive, Everett pieces together the clues and information from his father's co-worker. Gradually he learns his father developed a map of all the planes in the universe. His father had developed a gate to travel between planes. At first, Everett doesn't know how to use the map.
Everett, schooled by his father, has extraordinary mathematical ability and has the background and intelligence to understand his father's work. By luck and his own cleverness, he manages to travel through one of the gates to another plane. A manhunt ensues to locate Everett across the planes. He soon learns about the ten known planes, each with differences from the Earth he came from. In one, he finds a London more like an Arabian Nights city. Others vary in other less radical ways. He becomes aware of a conspiracy to exert control over all the planes and their various resources by the small clique of political leaders who kidnapped his father.
On the first plane he reaches, he meets Sen, a young girl who is a member of an airship crew and its pilot. He joins the crew while he continues his search for his father and enlists their aid. Gradually he comes to master the map.
McDonald has crafted a first-rate novel with enough science to be interesting and solid human relationships that drive the story. Other authors including young adult ones have used the idea of a multidimensional universe with travel between alternate realities. McDonald has made it all seem real. Readers will want more of Everett's adventures, and with a cliffhanger ending and a series title, more are sure to follow.