My book reviews are written as a discussion of a book, and not as an advertisement. Please be aware that there may be information that some would consider spoilers. Continue on at your own risk!
I rarely re-read books, as I have a lot I want to read and not a lot of time to do it. I had read this book a while ago and just realized there was a sequel. SO…here I go, re-reading this book so I can be ‘fresh’ for book 2. (These detailed ‘reviews’ also help me remember how I felt and key plot points of a book, so hopefully, in the future, I can just read this instead of the entire book) Here is what Ithought….
This story is about Joey, a young boy (who gets lost walking from the kitchen to the bathroom) finds out that he has a special ability to ‘walk’ between worlds. He finds out that his Earth (which is like our Earth) is one of many in the Altiverse. The Altiverse is an arc of many different versions of the Earth, one end of the arc tips towards magic, while the other end tips towards science. The Earths in the middle are a balance of both. Each end of the arc has a group of ‘bad guys’ who try to take over the entire arc (using either Magic or Science). A band of Joeys from various Earths (some of the incarnations are girls, some have wings, etc. based on the Earth they originated from) work to keep the bad guys from tipping the balance.
When our Joey gets lost, he accidently ‘walks’ into another universe. This triggers the bad guys to come get him, and he is promptly saved by another version of himself (Jay), who dies in transit. He does pick up a Multi Dimensional Lifeform (Hue), which promptly becomes one of his closest friends (since everyone else is mad that he got Jay killed). During a training assignment, his team is captured and he escapes, only to have the Old Man (who runs the Joeys) wipe his memory and send him back to his world. His memory is revived by a large soap bubble (which reminds him of Hue). He then proceeds to save his friends and continue his work to maintain balance in the Altiverse. (“We protect the Altiverse. We maintain a balance. That is our brief- to stem the twin tides of magic and science, to insure a mixture of both wherever we can.”
Plot Score: 3/5
The world is pretty amazing.
The Altiverse- “…looks kind of like a whirlpool and kind of like a tornado and mostly like the shape the water makes as it goes down the drain.” “Some parts of the Altiverse listen- those are the Magic worlds. Some don’t and would rather that you listened to them. Those are the science worlds.”
There is a wonderful variety of characters, people from heavier Earths that are shapped like barrels, people with wings, even a hybrid computer/person.
Location Score: 4/5
Characters and Relationships
Joey (and all the versions of himself)- he’s a pretty standard ‘good guy’, which is probably one of the downfalls of this book, since it’s a YA novel, the character falls a little flat. I felt it was odd that he struggled in regular school, but excelled at “Walking” school, where the concepts were beyond anything we have on Earth.
Mr. Dimas- a really awesome teacher at Joey’s school. He does a creative job at teaching his students social studies. (“One of the other teachers asked what this had to do with social studies, and Mr. Dimas said that everything was social studies.) I hope he plays a bigger role in future books.
Hex- Want magic to take over the Altiverse. “Their artillery relies on magic-spells, talismans, sacrifices.” They are the bad guys in this book, trying to capture Joeys and use their spirits to pilot their ships.
Binary- Want science to take over the Altiverse. “They used advanced technology…to radiate out along the arc, conquering as they go.” They don’t play a huge role in this story.
Characters Score: 3/5
Life Lessons (fka Bigger Meaning)
Bigger Meaning Score: 0/5
Defining Quote: “Always remember: In an infinity of worlds, anything is not only possible, it’s mandatory”
This book was written by two authors, and I wonder how that works. Do they write alternating sections? Does one person write the outline and the other fill in the detail? I thought the latter because the skeleton and principle of the story was great, but the execution of the detail was a little to simple for me.
Style Score: 3/5
-I remember liking this book more the first time I read it. I thought I was re-reading it as an opener to the second book, but now I’m not sure if I’ll read it.
-Recently I watched the new Star Trek movie, and noted that even in the future alcohol is the same. Then I read the following in this book, and thought it was wonderful that someone has ‘futurized’ alcohol- “Why in the name of all that’s sane would we drink a teratogenic poison when there are so many other ways to construct ethyl molecultes that don’t have devastating side effects?”
-Another of my favorite Mr. Dimas quotes: “Sometimes war is necessary to teach us the value of peace. Sometimes you need to learn the real value of diplomacy in avoiding war. And I’d rather my students learned those lessons on the playground than on the battlefield.”
Total Score and Recommendation
13/25- I don’t feel you can NOT not recommend a Neil Gaiman book, it is his not my favorites, but it should be read…