I was looking forward to this book, but perhaps I was expecting too much. It’s not a bad story, nor is it badly written, but it is not the memorable story that Gaiman readers expect. However, it is still a good read and children will certainly enjoy it.
In this story for children 10 and up, a shy and clumsy boy accidentally discovers he has the ability to walk between dimensions to worlds both similar and vastly different from his own. Unfortunately he discovered his ability at a bad time, causing his kidnapping and the death of his only ally.
Joey Harker has to struggle to regain his credibility and atone for his indiscretions, simultaneously dealing with a new reality in which he works with an organization created and maintained by none other than…himself! All of the Harkers in the infinite number of dimensions have his ability and have gathered together to save the multiple universes from being conquered by others who have found a way to travel the dimensions.
Trapped in his guilt, it doesn’t help that the organization that rescues him also blames him for their comrade’s demise, and he remains the underdog for the rest of the story, having to deal with his responsibility in someone’s death and finding the will and courage to survive his new conditions.
Readers that have made bad decisions and suffered the consequences, (that makes all of us), can relate to this character and appreciate the realism in which he grows to learn to forgive himself; his journey taking him from being self-destructive, to self sacrificing, to learning to forgive himself and deal with his forced segregation from those who blame him, including himself.
Both reluctant and habitual readers could enjoy this story. Boys like the main character who are shy or feel clumsy will certainly relate and perhaps admire Joey Harker, as he constantly struggles with internal and external demons. Even though he begins and ends as the underdog, the underlying message is still one of hope, regardless of our moments of weakness, tears, fears, and terrible mistakes.