Joey Harker thinks he’s a pretty normal kid except that he’s got a horrible sense of direction. When his social studies teacher makes the kids try to find their way back to school after being dropped off somewhere in town, Joey gets lost. That’s when he discovers there’s a good reason for his deficit — he’s a Walker. In fact, he’s THE Walker. He can travel through all the (heretofore unknown to Joey) alternate earths.
When Joey accidentally walks out of our earth, the InterWorld finds him. This is an organization made up of all the Walkers (i.e., all the Joey Harkers) who exist in all the alternate earths. They form a military unit that keeps their earths safe from the Hex and the Binary, the two groups that are trying to exploit the earths for their own purposes. The Hex, which controls some of the worlds, uses magic, while the Binary, which controls others, uses science. There are “fringe” worlds in between where science and magic exist in different proportions.
As Joey is being brought to InterWorld, he makes a mistake that ends up in one of the other Joeys’ death. This does not endear him to his new comrades, but he still decides to join them and learn how to be a Walker. This involves lots of physical and mental training as well as learning to get along with a diverse set of people.
InterWorld (2007), by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves, does everything it needs to do to entertain its targeted young adult audience. Joey is an appealing hero, as are all the other Joey iterations from the other earths. These Joeys were born and grew up in different worlds with different evolutionary paths, so while they look somewhat similar and they share some common personality characteristics, they are not the same people (that would be boring!). They are not even all boys and one is more like a cyborg. However, their names all start with J.
Nothing about the plot is at all believable, the villains are totally over the top, and some of the kids’ interactions are juvenile, but I liked InterWorld anyway. It’s fun and I love that InterWorld introduces kids to the concept of the multiverse as well as other physics and science fiction ideas. InterWorld should be mind-expanding for children and teens who have not encountered these concepts before and would be a good introduction to science fiction literature.
The audio edition was produced by HarperAudio and is narrated by Christopher Evan Welch. Welch makes a convincing Joey… or should I say Joeys.
There are two sequels to InterWorld: The Silver Dream and Eternity’s Wheel. I’ll review those soon.