Planesrunner by Ian McDonald

Lynn:  Picture this:  me, one chapter into Planesrunner (Prometheus/Pyr 2011) leaping around the room in sheer joy at finding a terrific science fiction book with real science for teens.  Huzzah!!!  I was positively giddy with the discovery that adult author McDonald both respected his teen audience and wrote REAL science fiction for them in his first YA book.  Don’t get me started on authors who think it is easy to write something in the current hot genre for teens without ever having ANY experience writing in that genre before.  Witness the thousands of trees who died in vain in the production of horrible horror, sloppy fantasy and ridiculous dystopia.

OK that is out of my system for the moment.  Planesrunner starts out with a bang when Everett Singh witnesses his scientist father being kidnapped.  Right before his eyes on the streets of London, three men jump out of a black car, grab his father and speed away.  Everett finds an application his father has left him on his computer that literally leads to new worlds.  Tejandra Singh has discovered the existence of parallel worlds and developed the Heisenberg Gate that allows travel between the worlds. Even more importantly, he has also invented a map, something totally unique to the multiverse and of equally infinite value.  “Tell no one,” warns Tejendra in a message to Everett.  Everyone wants the map, including the cooperating worlds of the Plenitude and Everett knows he must go through the gate and rescue his father himself.  What a great set-up!  The following story never disappoints.

Powered with blazing action, peopled by quirky colorful characters, this story sizzles with awesome fun.  The world-building is an imaginative delight, crafted with real skill, and McDonald does a terrific job of incorporating an explanation of the multiverse theory easily into the narrative.  Both the characters and the setting come to life through clever details like Everett’s love of Punjabi cooking, the Airish slang (glossary provided) and an interwoven hats-off to Dr. Who.  There’s an interesting exploration of prejudice and importance of family too but it is the romantic, fist-swinging, high-tension plot that keeps the pages turning.  I love that most of what  happens is powered more by brains than brawn and I simply cannot wait for the next installment.  This one is totally bona!

News!  I’ve just learned that a sequel is out!  Be My Enemy (Prometheus/Pyre Sept, 2012)  Huzzah!



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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