What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Planesrunner is an inventive, fast-paced science fantasy that's reminiscent of Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass, minus the emphasis on theology. Although not well advertised as such, it is the first installment of the Everness series. Expect plenty of peril and some violence (including use of weapons), as well as a fair bit of hard science-based theorizing.
What's the story?
After witnessing the kidnapping of his physicist father from the streets of London, 14-year-old Everett Singh discovers a mysterious new app on his tablet. It turns out to be the Infundibulum, the most valuable object in the universe, a map of all parallel earths. Everett follows his father's trail into another universe, one where the villainous Charlotte Villiers and her creepy henchmen reign supreme. Aided by Captain Anastasia Sixsmyth and the crew of the airship Everness, Everett hatches a desperate plan to save his father.
Is it any good?
Ian McDonald is an award-winning writer of science fiction for adults, and he makes a smooth transition to the YA market with this opening installment in a new series. The action in PLANESRUNNER ramps up quickly and rarely diminishes, but McDonald takes care to do the necessary world-building that makes for a truly memorable yarn. His presentation of the steampunky Earth 3 is colorful and vivid, full of neat touches and unexpected details. The eccentric characters -- heroes and villains alike -- have enough reality and emotional complexity to be compelling.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how cosmology and quantum physics theories imply that an infinite number of parallel universes is possible. Does the notion that there might be multiple copies of you and your family spread across the cosmos intrigue or unnerve you?
Everett Singh's cultural background is Punjabi. Why do you think the author chose that background for his main character? Does the choice play into or against stereotypes?
Everett begins the book abandoning his home in London by searching for his missing father. Gradually, he builds a kind of alternative family with the crew of the airship Everness. How has the idea of family changed over time? What are the characteristics that define a family?