Review: Planesrunner by Ian McDonald

March 9, 2014 4 stars, Book Review, Science Fiction, Young Adult 8 ★★★★


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 Planesrunner pyrthat 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!

Endless alternate worlds to our own, and young Everett holds the key to them all in PLANESRUNNER. Sounds like a dream come true…though its probably a touch bit of a nightmare for him. For us? A marvelous treat of adventure, science and balderdash!

Fun to the Fun squared!
If you’ve been aching to find that amazing young adult read that mixes science fiction with high adventure this is definitely the book you need to pick up. I’ve read a fair share of sci-fi YA books and this one is singularly unique. Why? Because of the science! I would describe Planesrunner as heavier on the science side than most other YA books I’ve read, and it manages to not be so heavy that it gets bogged down. Not that I know if any of the science is correct *grin* but it sure was fascinating to read. It was great in that it didn’t seem as if anything was dumbed down or glossed over, indeed this would probably be a techie kids uber dream.

The geek of the Earth are a tribe and they are mighty. – pg 67

Young Everett is a science genius and all of the details we are given support that. Even though that in itself might be hard to swallow, a young teen being such a quantum physics genius. But at every turn his personality and his actions meld so well that it couldn’t be any other way, this kid just makes sense. Yes, he’s a young teen with smarts beyond compare but he still makes from the hip decisions like that of the teen he is. Rash, spontaneous, and not always thinking ten steps ahead type of behavior, now that is teen to me. I loved how well all aspects about him worked together and made him all the more believable! Especially some of his basic common sense.

Rules for twenty-first-century living: never give the police your only photograph. – pg 21

Indeed, I adored how each of the characters were given such unique touches. So much so, that even the side characters had their own voice in my mind, and that my friends is hard to pull off.

We don’t always get what we wont, but sometimes what we get is better!
Everett is pulled into a high stakes situation, with father kidnapped, and him left with the key to the multiverse – he has to think fast and make an even faster plan of action. Even he thinks it’s somewhat ridiculous at best, or is it? Not only that, he has to find the means to execute his not very well thought out plans. Lucky for him Sen (a spunky young tarot card reading girl with a marvelous white afro) finds him instead, and tries to rob him no less! But what better way to start a friendship than a little attempted thievery? Not to mention Sen is the perfect counter balance to Everett. She is a sassy little firecracker with continual burst.

She could be bitingly cruel with deadly accuracy, but Everett wondered if her taunts and nasty little rhymes were thought out in advance, to be drawn like knives when she needed weapons, or if she was like a wasp that stings by reflex. – pg 238

Diversity is the spice of life!
One of the major things I loved about Planesrunner is the racial and cultural diversity we get to experience and the fact that the main character was of mixed race, or a non Caucasian race which we just don’t see enough of. The book is peppered with ethnic flavor, and I mean that literally cause this kid is one hell of a cook. Everett steps into a world completely different from his own, and yet sometimes so alike. He has his culture and world that he comes from and while he is slowly getting to know the crew of the Everness so too is he learning about their culture and class, the Airish. This has to be the best part of the book that it brings up issues of race as well as class and cultural prejudice. These things exist across different planes of existence. You can change the world but I suppose you can’t change human nature and that is one of the aspects that helped make this different version of our world all the more real. Oh yes and I can’t forget to mention that you are in for a treat with the amazing slang! If you don’t normally handle heavy slang well in your reading then be forewarned because Sen and some of the other dialogue is made up of it. Personally I loved it, but I loved it even more when I realized there was a darn glossary in the back! My recommendation to you – read the 3 page glossary first, or as you’re reading the book, so you get comfortable with the slang terms. I wish these kinds of glossaries were at the FRONT of novels so I know immediately they are there, sigh. Still an excellent move by the author to include this because I used it a lot until each word cemented itself into my brain.

Adventure isn’t adventure without an airship or two!
Another one of the best parts you might have guessed from the description. Airships! That’s right there be no airplanes here ye land lubbers, but airships. And things wouldn’t be complete without a battle in the skies! I have to give it to Ian McDonald he really knows how to leave a reader satisfied. Fancy weapons, different types of fuel and technology, crazy cool clothes and a sweet air ride that so so need to stow away on.

Planesrunner might just be the book you’ve been looking for, it definitely was for me and I can tell things are only going to get better! If all of this isn’t enough to tempt you, well then, maybe your sense of fun is broken.

Planesrunner (Everness #1)

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*gasp* This book was provided by the publisher! Now worries though it’s an honest review and all opinions expressed are my own. This post might also contain affiliate links. To view my full Blog Policy, click here.

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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8 Responses to “Review: Planesrunner by Ian McDonald”

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      See technically this isn’t steampunk – its elektropunk?! Because the other earth he ends up in is powered by Coal and Electricity.

      It really is good and Sen is so awesome. I have it on good authority that the books just get better and better!

  1. Mogsy

    I love how these books are steampunk-but-not-really, but it’s more like as Everett says, electropunk! Very unique world and characters and style of story telling, it’s like a breath of fresh air from usual YA. And the best part about the series is, the books just get better and better!
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    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Yes – I loved that as well – I love airships and I can’t help but tie that to steampunk. I agree it was a very nice difference to the normal YA that I have read lately.

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Hmm cute…I don’t know if I’d use the word cute to describe it. I thought it was meatier than most YA books out there. I mean there was some things about it that kept it still light hearted enough to have a YA feel. I just thought it was more sophisticated and would probably appeal to adults more and a different set of teens than alot of the other ya out there. This is a book sci-fi ya readers would adore.

      I agree most shy away from SF thinking its heavier. And thats weird cause I didn’t feel this was heavier but I did feel it had more SUSTENANCE. So I walked away after having read this more satisfied than I normally do with the fluffier YA out there. Am I making sense? So not heavier, but definitely more satisfying.