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InterWorld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves
Review by Drew Bittner
Eos Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780061238963
Date: 01 July 2007 List Price $16.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Joey Harker is an average kid--more or less. He has no sense of direction and feels out of place, until the day he takes a walk... and ends up in another world.

This misadventure kicks off Interworld, by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves. Based on a TV pitch they concocted in the '90s, the story follows Joey on a bizarre journey of self-discovery, leading to terrible danger and the chance to save the world--or perhaps a trillion worlds all at once.

During a peculiar class assignment, Joey gets lost in his home town of Greenville. Walking through an odd mist, he arrives in a Greenville with some major changes: a classmate's long hair is now cut short, McDonalds arches are now green, and apparently his parents had a daughter instead of a son.

Fleeing what seems like a bad dream, he's caught by Jay, a man in a silvery sheath, who protects him from attackers on flying saucer-boards. Jay loses Joey when a trio of slavers finds Joey and enchants him; Joey is taken aboard a space-going galleon, a helpless prisoner of Lady Indigo and her allies Scarabus and Neville.

Suffice it to say that Joey's adventures don't end there. Instead, Joey loses a friend, gains a remarkable ally and discovers he's not alone in the universe. No, because a small army of heroes from parallel Earths have banded together to maintain the balance between magic and science. They operate out of Interworld and get around through the In-Between, a sort of hyperspace, using their singular talent of Walking between versions of Earth. Their enemies are HEX (a cross-dimensional empire of wizards and magical beings) and the Binary (a cross-dimensional empire of super-scientists). The heroes of Interworld aren't strong enough to defeat either HEX or the Binary, but must engage them where and when they can to prevent either one from taking over trillions of alternate Earths. At the moment, that's not going very well.

And Joey Harker is the most powerful Walker that anyone's ever seen--which means he's not only a potential super-agent for Interworld but also a prize that both HEX and the Binary want more than anything.

Now Joey has a mission: rescue a handful of schoolmates from Lady Indigo, no matter what it takes. He's messed up, badly, twice already. A third failure and it could mean doom for billions of Earths, and maybe even the end of Interworld itself.

Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves put together a fun, fast-paced story perfect for young readers, though grown-ups will love it as well. It recalls the high adventure of Heinlein's early work, even to making friends with an alien and learning things about the world that more experienced heroes never suspected. They make the stakes very high for Joey and give him some terrific villains to play against--HEX's primary representatives: Lady Indigo, the tattooed Scarabus, and the jellyfish-bellied Neville are all sinister, dangerous and (best of all) smart in how they threaten Joey.

There's plenty of heartfelt emotion, particularly in a pivotal scene between Joey and his mother, and lots of action to keep readers turning the pages. Plus, Joey's classmates are entertaining and cleverly imagined.

Readers looking for a sharp, fun and lightning-fast book will find Interworld well worth exploring.

Strongly recommended.

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