Monday, July 28, 2008

Neil Gaiman Double Book Review

JOEY HARKER ISN'T A HERO. In fact, he's the kind of guy who gets lost in his own house. But one day, Joey gets really lost. He walks straight out of his world and into another dimension. Joey's walk between worlds makes him prey to armies of magic and science, both determined to harness Joey's power to travel between the dimensions. The only thing standing in their way is Joey - or, more precisely, an army of Joeys, all from different dimensions and all determined to save the worlds. Now Joey must make a choice: return to life he knows or join the battle to the end. - Synopsis found in the back cover

First sentence: Once I got lost in my own house.

I am a tad disappointed with InterWorld. But this is not to say that the sci-fi/fantasy story is not interesting – it is. I must also state that this is a book for children age 10 up so that could be the cause for its simplistic plot. But then again, it’s Neil Gaiman we’re talking about. Even if it’s a clichéd story, Gaiman still writes well but something it’s different here. The Gaiman-factor is simply lacking. Even his graphic book The Wolves in the Walls is much better one than this.

Gaiman had co-written this book with Michael Reaves, an Emmy Award-winning television writer and screenwriter. InterWorld is a story resurrected from the past where it had sat in darkness for several years and brought to life in 2007. I would recommend reading Stardust and Neverwhere if you are interested in checking out Gaiman's (adult readers) work and Coraline for young readers.

And now for M Is for Magic. This is a compilation of short stories - stories to delight, enchant, and surprise you (so says the back cover). And truly, they do chill and amuse me. Just let your imagination run wild when reading this, OK? Here's what you've got in the book:

- The Case of the Four and Twenty Blackbirds
- Troll Bridge
- Don't Ask Jack
- How to Sell the Ponti Bridge
- October in the Chair
- Chivalry
- The Price
- How to Talk to Girls at Parties
- Sunbird
- The Witch's Headstone
- Instructions

My favourites are The Case of the Four and Twenty Blackbirds and October in the Chair. In the former, Humpty Dumpty's sister (Jill) hires Jack, a private detective to investigate her brother's death. But does Humpty really have a sister? Gaiman cleverly weaves together a few nursery rhyme characters to form an intriguing story. You then somehow ended up with a link to the four and twenty blackbirds, Jack and Jill, Little Bo Peep and of course Humpty Dumpty who had a great fall, but what had happened before that? That's what the story is trying to unfold. Here's a quote I like, extracted from the story (p. 11): [...] but you don't want to hear my troubles. If you're not dead yet, you've got troubles of your own. True, isn't it?

And then, there's another one in How to Sell the Ponti Bridge. You can actually learn a thing or two from fiction. For example, it examines the ingredients of a good scam. Here's the excerpt from p. 53: "Firstly, the scam must be credible. Secondly, it must be simple - the more complex the more chance of error. Thirdly, when the sucker is stung, he must be stung in such a way as to prevent him from ever turning to the law. Fourthly, the mainspring of any elegant con is human greed and human vanity. Lastly, it must involve trust - confidence, if you will." Again, true, isn't it?

It is definitely an interesting read but since this is a book for young readers, I am of the opinion that the subject of sex, the use of the word 'screw' shouldn't be in the book. Also, I understand that there are some repeat stories from his other compilation of short stories in Fragile Things and Smoke and Mirrors so if you have already read those, be warned...