Planesrunner – Ian McDonald + GIVEAWAY

This post has been updated with new cover art. 

About the book

There is not one you. There are many yous. There isnot one world. There are many worlds. Ours is one of billions of parallelearths. 

When Everett Singh’s scientist father iskidnapped from the streets of London, he leaves young Everett a mysterious appon his computer. Suddenly, this fourteen-year-old has become the owner of themost valuable object in the multiverse—the Infundibulum—the map of all theparallel earths, and there are dark forces in the Ten Known Worlds who willstop at nothing to get it. They’ve got power, authority, and the might of tenplanets—some of them more technologically advanced than our Earth—at theirfingertips. He’s got wits, intelligence, and a knack for Indian cooking. 

To keep the Infundibulum safe, Everett musttrick his way through the Heisenberg Gate his dad helped build and go on therun in a parallel Earth. But to rescue his Dad from Charlotte Villiers and thesinister Order, this Planesrunner’s going to need friends. Friends like CaptainAnastasia Sixsmyth, her adopted daughter Sen, and the crew of the airshipEverness. 

Can they rescue Everett’s father and get theInfundibulum to safety? The game is afoot!

274pages (hardcover)
Publishedon: December 6, 2011
Publishedby: Pyr
Thanksto Pyr for sending me a copy of this book to review.
It’sno secret to anyone that I’m not a big fan of young adult books. Therefore,please read the following sentence twice, just so it really sinks in.
Iloved this book.
I’ma fan of McDonald, but his books are rather adult, so when I saw that he wrotea young adult book I had to check it out so I could see what this very adultauthor can do with a younger audience to play with. I’m glad I did. This is,perhaps, the first young adult book I’ve ever read that I simply couldn’t putdown, and what’s wonderful about it is that McDonald doesn’t shed the aspectsof his writing that make me love his adult books just to appeal to a youngeraudience.
Planesrunner starts with a bang whenfourteen-year-old Everett watches his father get kidnapped off the London streetsand is then flung into an adventure while he tries to find his father (in aparallel universe, no less). While a book based on the idea of paralleluniverses and multi-universe organizations might seem a little weighty forteenagers, Planesrunner makes theseideas fun and accessible by labeling things with words like “infundibulum”. Whilethat may seem like a little thing to point out to readers, fun words like thatmake a huge difference with heavier concepts. They make the concept fun tolearn about and incredibly accessible to the average reader. While it is asmall detail, it’s an important one.
Everett,our protagonist, is an absolute joy to read about. McDonald does a wonderfuljob establishing his fourteen-year-old nature, despite his genius with quantumphysics. Everett watches Doctor Who, he’s a goalkeeper for his school footballteam, among other things. He’s the average fourteen-year-old, despite hisgenius, and that’s what makes him shine. Everett is a kid every kid can relateto. Furthermore, McDonald doesn’t loose what I love about him when creatingEverett. Let me explain.
Oneof the things I love about McDonald is how cultural he is. His adult novelsfocus largely on cities and cultures around the world and it’s absolutelyfascinating for a culture-junkie like myself to read about these other citiesand countries and see what a mind like McDonald’s can do with them. McDonald,thankfully, didn’t leave this behind when he switched into young adult mode. Infact, Everett himself his half Punjabi Indian, and that small dash of cultureclicked all the right gears and made me feel as though Planesrunner was more of a coming home than acompletely-new-and-absolutely-different book. It’s not jarring, it’s a smalldetail, but it’s completely McDonald.
McDonaldalso does a great job at peopling his book with fantastically memorablesecondary characters, like the headstrong Sen and her mother, the captain ofthe airship Everness, as well as the wonderfully fun crew of the Evernessitself. While there is a little teenage romance thrown in for good measure, it’sdone incredibly well and in a way that isn’t overpowering. The romance is anice spice added to the plot, rather than the focus of the plot itself.
Thealternative Earth Everett is whisked to in the search for his father iswonderfully built and will appeal to steampunk fans everywhere, as oil neverbecame a viable energy source there. This Earth is populated with airships andplenty of other fun steam powered devices. Furthermore, history played out abit differently there, and McDonald did a wonderful job at making thisalternative history rich and believable. This other Earth is a joy to explorewith Everett and will strike plenty of wonder in readers, as McDonald’s worldbuilding will cause individuals to wonder, “what if?”
Planesrunner is action packed from coverto cover. Fast action coupled with McDonald’s stunning world building, characterdevelopment, as well as flowing writing will appeal to a younger audience andwill make Planesrunner an instant hitwith youth and adults alike. While the ideas might sound weighty, McDonaldhandles them with incredible finesse and manages to not only make these ideasinteresting and accessible, but will strike wonder in almost anyone.
That’sprobably what is the most amazing part of Planesrunner.It’s a book full of everything from action to romance to heavy scienceconcepts, but despite all of that, it’s the wonder of the story that willstrike readers most. It’s not just a great book, but it’s a book that willleave readers wondering, “what if?” and that’s the best part of it. It’s pureimaginative fun.
Ireally want to keep my copy of this book, but I’m not going to. I enjoyed it somuch I want to share it with others, so I’m doing ANOTHER giveaway. This timeyou can enter to win my review copy of Planesrunner.
Toenter, email me at bookwormblues (at)live (dot) com with PLANESRUNNERin the subject. The giveaway is open worldwide.I’ll announce the winner on Tuesday,December 20.
Good luck!          

4 Responses

  • Sunny

    I've been seeing this book for a while now, and the story idea sounds fantastic, but quite frankly the cover freaks me out a bit! I'm not usually one to "judge" a book by its' cover, but let's face it, first impressions do count. I'm also not a huge fan of YA, (with a few exceptions)so I'm glad to see that you enjoyed it! I may have to brave the creepy bald lady and give this one a try!

  • Bibliotropic

    That really does sound interesting. I've always been a fan of the multiverse theory, so I suspect this book could be right up my alley!

    Thanks for making the giveaway a worldwide one!

  • Lou Anders

    Hi Sunny. Would it help if I told you that the girl on the cover isn't bald. That's a white afro! It's just blended with the star field.

  • John Picacio

    Yup, Sen's hair is described in the book as 'extraordinary' and an 'afro of pure white'. What's more extraordinary than an afro of stars? 🙂

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