InterWorld by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
As a writer I believe that it is important to read young-adult and children's books. Just as important, if not more so, than the classics that are so often praised and looked for.
This may seem strange. Why must we, who are adults and intellectual read something that is meant for kids? Well, in part, it is because we must always know what it is that younger people are reading and are interested in. This is partially due to the fact that, even if you are writing philosophy it is a good idea to have your finger on the pulse of what the future generation is thinking and feeling.
Another reason, however, is that we must always be vigilant for those who are writing badly and feeding terrible thoughts and propaganda to the young so that we can work to prevent that. Children are insightful and the world before them is full of terrible things that they may never be ready for.
The fantasy novel or the fairy-tale is a way in which we may reveal these awful and terrible things to our children, along with other complex things in a way that they may process.
So, the big question, does "Interworld" fulfill these requirements. The short answer is yes. "Interworld," is a novel that just about anyone could grasp. The language is simple and easy to latch onto, yet it still retains the trademark flair of a Gaiman story, being full of strangeness and the like.
Furthermore, the themes at work here are ones that are large, even for most adults. At one level we have the simple theme of belonging and the lack of place, something that everyone has felt at least once in their life time. However, this theme of lack of belonging is not just one of being an unpopular school child, but rather one that morphs and shapes into the feeling of utter displacement. Truly not belonging where one was once welcome.
This is a huge theme in the first of this series. However, even as this theme begins to go by the wayside we are confronted with the consequence of actions. Death is a hard thing to talk about. Even those who have been affected by it, as I have, do not always know the best way to speak of it. It is the great equalizer and the ending of all things. To speak of such a thing is a great feat, one made near impossible when speaking to the young, who do not fully understand that death is ever coming closer.
In "Interworld," we are confronted with that death and it is made even more profound because it is the death of the self, literally.
There is, of course, that strange combination of the pulp (which may be due to the other author's contributions) and the absolutely strange. Gaiman manages to blend elements of fantasy and science fiction, weaving them into a plot based on the idea of different dimensions. This strangeness helps to balance out the themes at play.
While the themes at play here are heavy, they are laid subtlely and placed in a way that we are never left feeling as if the author is preaching to us, but rather that this is real life at play.
If anything, this book shows that books for the younger audience can be dark and, at times, unhappy. They do not have to shelter, but can rather reveal, helping to balance out the great horror that awaits our children as they reach adulthood.
View all my reviews or buy the book here: InterWorld (InterWorld Trilogy)
Or maybe you're a bigger fan of audiobooks? Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks