Thursday, June 28, 2007


InterWorld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves (2007, Eos Books)

It's no secret that Neil Gaiman can do no wrong in my eyes. One day, he may prove me wrong, but after 15 years, I don't think so. His young adult collaboration with Reaves certainly hasn't.

High school sophomore Joey Harker couldn't find his way out of a paper bag with a map. He's always getting himself lost, even in his own house. One fateful day, he manages to get himself lost so badly that he winds up in an alternate reality. Things only seem to go downhill from there as he encounters reality-hopping technocrats, world-conquering witches, and a secret army dedicated to keeping the balance - made up entirely of alternate versions of himself!

Gaiman is no stranger to children's literature, but InterWorld is his first real foray into the young adult action/ adventure genre. Reaves brings a world of experience writing for such television series as Star Trek: the Next Generation and Gargoyles to the mix, making this novel a wonderful story in what will hopefully become a fully-fledged series. Readers of the Pendragon series and James Patterson's Maximum Ride series will find a lot here to interest them.

InterWorld will be a very quick read for most adult readers, but is enjoyable by sci-fi/ fantasy and action/ adventure fans of all ages. There are a few minor editing issues, and sometimes the first person story lapses into language that doesn't seem appropriate for a high school sophomore (even one who can Walk between realities). The only real problem that crops up is a fairly major contradiction in the plot near the end of the story. As a whole, though, InterWorld is simply brilliant.

Rating: 4 Stars

Author's Website

Heart-Shaped Box

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill (2007, William Morrow & Company)

For those not in the know, Joe Hill is the nom de plume of Joseph Hillstrom King, son of Stephen King. With parentage like that, it's impossible not to compare the works of father and son. While fully rooted in the genre of horror, however, Heart-Shaped Box is not your father's (or his father's, for that matter) ghost story.

Ex-heavy metal rocker Jude Coyne has spent his years of retirement at his old farmhouse with a rotating cast of goth-girl groupies. A collector of the macabre, he happens across an online auction for a dead man's suit, complete with haunting spirit. With money as no objective, Jude purchases the suit, and in short order finds the dead, as well as his own past, catching up with him.

Hill's first novel is hip and modern, and owes more to Japanese-inspired horror films like The Ring and The Grudge than the more traditional American horror story. The ghosts in Heart-Shaped Box are subtle and invasive, and it's sometimes hard to figure out where the supernatural ends and the psychological begins. The book is highly cinematic, and I would be quite surprised if I didn't see this story make its way to the big screen in the next couple of years.

While Heart-Shaped Box is a great read, it is still Hill's debut novel, and sometimes it shows through. While the plot and action are excellently-paced, the characterization sometimes suffers, particularly when it comes to Jude Coyne. Jude's age only seems to give him problems when it's immediately important. One moment, he might be bounding up stairs without a thought while the next he is bemoaning his aging joints. Also of peculiar note for me was Jude's beard. I was almost a third of the way through the book before it was mentioned that the main character possessed a rather long beard. This was somewhat jarring, as I had not pictured him that way. It seems like something that would have been rather easily remedied early in the book.

All in all, though, Heart-Shaped Box is an addictive read, and Joe Hill is definitely an author to watch.

Rating: 3 Stars

Author's Website