I’m actually in two minds about this one. On one hand, this has got a more interesting premise than most of Gaiman’s work I’ve read after Neverwhere. Stardust was too traditional fairy tale-like, American Gods lovely but kinda hard to get through, and Anansi Boys a bit too normal/predictable for Gaiman. Parallel universes would make an interesting story, I thought. And I love Multiverse/Altiverse stories.
But. There are too many characters and too little character development. Joey Harker doesn’t seem to reveal too much of himself (or at least that’s how I read it), and he doesn’t engage me. This book has its share of witty lines, but the Gaimanesque humor is barely there. I haven’t read anything by Michael Reaves so I’m not sure if this is up to his usual standard or not. And I think it says a lot that my absolute favorite character from this book is Joey Harker’s teacher, Mr. Dimas. I mean, Mr. Dimas only appeared about twice or thrice in the book, but he seems more real to me than Joey.
And the other thing is, this book feels a bit too Diana Wynne Jone-ish to me. As in if I had no idea who had written this, I would have guessed it’s by her. The way Gaiman and Reaves handle the parallel universe stuff is a lot like the world series in Chrestomanci, or even her Multiverse books. Although of course DWJ never failed to come up with characters that I couldn’t emphasize with.
So how come I would give this book 4 hearts out of 5? Because even though the stuff I mentioned distracted me, I still thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I still found myself wanting to see things through to the end, and I still found myself rooting for Joey. And if this story ever becomes a TV series, I would want to get the DVDs. So I guess Gaiman and Reaves must have done something right.
~ originally posted on blogspot