Planesrunner – Everness #1 – Ian McDonald
There is not one you. There are many yous. There is not one world. There are many worlds. Ours is one among billions of parallel earths.
When Everett Singh’s scientist father is kidnapped from the streets of London, he leaves young Everett a mysterious app on his computer. Suddenly, this teenager has become the owner of the most valuable object in the multiverse—the Infundibulum—the map of all the parallel earths, and there are dark forces in the Ten Known Worlds who will stop at nothing to get it. They’ve got power, authority, the might of ten planets—some of them more technologically advanced than our Earth—at their fingertips. He’s got wits, intelligence, and a knack for Indian cooking.
To keep the Infundibulum safe, Everett must trick his way through the Heisenberg Gate that his dad helped build and go on the run in a parallel Earth. But to rescue his dad from Charlotte Villiers and the sinister Order, this Planesrunner’s going to need friends. Friends like Captain Anastasia Sixsmyth, her adopted daughter, Sen, and the crew of the airship Everness.
Can they rescue Everett’s father and get the Infundibulum to safety? The game is afoot!
I can start right away by saying that I really enjoyed this book. ‘Planesrunner’ is a fascinating steampunk/electropunk book with a minor focus on science that’s full of action and great characters. It is meant for a Young Adult audience, but is perfectly enjoyable for adults too. I have to say that this is one of the better books I’ve read in a while in the Young Adult category. It has a very original setting (actually, multiple original settings), an imaginative premise and as I said before a cast of colorful characters that spruce up the book even more.
The story starts off in a comfortably familiar London where we meet Everett Singh, our main character. Everett is waiting for his father to go to a seminar together when he sees the latter being pulled off his bike and kidnapped by a black car. Now, Everett is smart, he has the reflex to take pictures of the car that kidnapped his father en goes to the police with them. But what when the police acts kinda weird? And what if you suddenly have a document in your dropbox that will change your life forever? Because that’s what happens to Everett. He gets the Infundibulum from this dad, a device that maps all the existing parallel universes and the reason his dad got kidnapped in the first place. Yes! They exist! Everett even gets short videos of some parallel worlds to prove it. But the people who kidnapped his father still want the Infundibulum for their own (not so good) reasons and Everett will have to be very creative and protect the Infundibulum with his life.
Now, here is the first thing that made me really love this book: parallel worlds. It’s been a fascination for me since I was young. I love to speculate about the possibility of other worlds, similar to ours out there, with another me and another mom and dad. What if every choice we make creates 2 paths? What if in a parallel universe is created where I picked the other choice? Fascinating! That’s why I clicked with this book from the very start. I’m glad to say I really love the way the author used the parallel universes in his story, just how I’d imagined it. But he still surprised me with his description of the other worlds. That’s something I hadn’t really thought about and the fact he created all those different worlds with different cultures and where different events took place was really interesting.
Like the first world Everett travels to: it’s recognizable, but also very different from the world we know. The technology is more advanced and they don’t use oil, everything works on electricity and … there are airships! Extra cool points! Everett gets on one of these airships, the Everness, due to circumstances and I loved learning everything about the airship and the crew.
Everett is a smart kid and I loved following his journey through the parallel universes. I felt completely emerged in his way of thinking, he just has a way of pulling you in. He sees every detail and analyses everything. He is tech savvy and sees the world in his own personal way.
Sen, the girl he meets in the parallel world he travels to and the daughter of the Captain of the airship, is another fantastic character. She isn’t your typical girl, she has a rather extraordinary look (which you can see on the US cover of the third book in this series, ‘Empress of the Sun’), whimsical moods and a strong personality. Sen isn’t someone who will immediately conquer your heart but crawls under your skin slowly and makes you care about her.
The slang used in this book, the Airish language, is something that really livened up the story even more and I was surprised to learn that it is a dialect that was/is actually spoken in England. In the beginning it was a bit confusing, as are all new dialects, but the author did a great job introducing it slowly so the readers can get to know the meaning of the words. At the end of the book I was digging this dialect so much I kept thinking “fantabulosa” every time I came across something great in real life.
‘Planesrunner’ is a book full of action that makes you really sympathize with Everett’s search for his father. It’s a page-turner that makes you want to know what will happen on the next page every time. Every page brings more action and plans to further the search. We even get a real airship battle that was described fantastically and gave us a few edge-of-your-seat-moments.