“Planesrunner” by Ian McDonald — Smart, Fast and Fun

The elegant solution to some problems is to cut to the source. Everett Singh, hero of Ian McDonald’s thrilling Planesrunner (Pyr), does just that in this science fiction/steam punk filled adventure.

Singh is a brilliant young teen who is the eldest child of a scientist who is on the verge of something spectacular. However, before Everett can figure it out himself, his father is kidnapped – and Everett’s world is turned upside down.

He goes to the police but they don’t believe him. When he shows them video proof, something strange happens. The police alter his video and tries to say his father was not kidnapped, but simply ran off somewhere. Everett, wisely, had email him a copy of the altered video and replays it later, confirming his suspicions: the police are lying.

That night, Everett receives a very strange app on his iPad with a note attached. It is for him, from his dad, sent before his kidnapping. Everett cracks the code and quickly realizes that there is something much deeper, much more powerful going on that his dad was involved with, and he begins to think it may have something to do with alternate realities.

Everett convinces the mysterious government agency running the exploration of his dad’s theories into letting him come in to give them the app his dad had sent him. Instead of giving them the app, though, Everett leaps through the gate and ends up in a steam punk style London, where oil does not exist.

This story was a lot of fun to read, with Everet”s single-minded determination to rescue his father at all cost coming across as a very strong father-son connection — something a lot of YA books seem to lack. He’s a very realistic teen, with the thought process of an advanced mind which still lacks some maturity. Basically, he is a well-portrayed teenager.

McDonald does a lot of research into the steam aspects of the novel, but it does not take away anything from the overall novel. Everett’s quest to rescue his father is first and foremost, despite the other dangerous adventures which occur to Everett in the alternate London.

The author has a great story hear, and with no conclusive ending, the sequel should be just as fun. A great story for all.

-Reviewed by Jason

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