Tuesday, December 13, 2011

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 is not one world. There are many worlds. Ours is one of 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 fourteen-year-old 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, and 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 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!

274 pages (hardcover)
Published on: December 6, 2011
Published by: Pyr

Thanks to Pyr for sending me a copy of this book to review.


It’s no 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.

I loved this book.

I’m a fan of McDonald, but his books are rather adult, so when I saw that he wrote a young adult book I had to check it out so I could see what this very adult author 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 put down, and what’s wonderful about it is that McDonald doesn’t shed the aspects of his writing that make me love his adult books just to appeal to a younger audience.

Planesrunner starts with a bang when fourteen-year-old Everett watches his father get kidnapped off the London streets and is then flung into an adventure while he tries to find his father (in a parallel universe, no less). While a book based on the idea of parallel universes and multi-universe organizations might seem a little weighty for teenagers, Planesrunner makes these ideas fun and accessible by labeling things with words like “infundibulum”. While that may seem like a little thing to point out to readers, fun words like that make a huge difference with heavier concepts. They make the concept fun to learn about and incredibly accessible to the average reader. While it is a small detail, it’s an important one.

Everett, our protagonist, is an absolute joy to read about. McDonald does a wonderful job establishing his fourteen-year-old nature, despite his genius with quantum physics. Everett watches Doctor Who, he’s a goalkeeper for his school football team, among other things. He’s the average fourteen-year-old, despite his genius, and that’s what makes him shine. Everett is a kid every kid can relate to. Furthermore, McDonald doesn’t loose what I love about him when creating Everett. Let me explain.

One of the things I love about McDonald is how cultural he is. His adult novels focus largely on cities and cultures around the world and it’s absolutely fascinating for a culture-junkie like myself to read about these other cities and 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. In fact, Everett himself his half Punjabi Indian, and that small dash of culture clicked all the right gears and made me feel as though Planesrunner was more of a coming home than a completely-new-and-absolutely-different book. It’s not jarring, it’s a small detail, but it’s completely McDonald.

McDonald also does a great job at peopling his book with fantastically memorable secondary characters, like the headstrong Sen and her mother, the captain of the airship Everness, as well as the wonderfully fun crew of the Everness itself. While there is a little teenage romance thrown in for good measure, it’s done incredibly well and in a way that isn’t overpowering. The romance is a nice spice added to the plot, rather than the focus of the plot itself.

The alternative Earth Everett is whisked to in the search for his father is wonderfully built and will appeal to steampunk fans everywhere, as oil never became a viable energy source there. This Earth is populated with airships and plenty of other fun steam powered devices. Furthermore, history played out a bit differently there, and McDonald did a wonderful job at making this alternative history rich and believable. This other Earth is a joy to explore with Everett and will strike plenty of wonder in readers, as McDonald’s world building will cause individuals to wonder, “what if?”

Planesrunner is action packed from cover to cover. Fast action coupled with McDonald’s stunning world building, character development, as well as flowing writing will appeal to a younger audience and will make Planesrunner an instant hit with youth and adults alike. While the ideas might sound weighty, McDonald handles them with incredible finesse and manages to not only make these ideas interesting and accessible, but will strike wonder in almost anyone.

That’s probably what is the most amazing part of Planesrunner. It’s a book full of everything from action to romance to heavy science concepts, but despite all of that, it’s the wonder of the story that will strike readers most. It’s not just a great book, but it’s a book that will leave readers wondering, “what if?” and that’s the best part of it. It’s pure imaginative fun.

5/5 stars


I really want to keep my copy of this book, but I’m not going to. I enjoyed it so much I want to share it with others, so I’m doing ANOTHER giveaway. This time you can enter to win my review copy of Planesrunner.

To enter, email me at bookwormblues (at) live (dot) com with PLANESRUNNER in the subject. The giveaway is open worldwide. I’ll announce the winner on Tuesday, December 20.

Good luck!          


  1. 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!

  2. 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!

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  4. 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.

  5. 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? :)