Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Book Review: A Hundred Thousand Worlds

By Sara Steven

Valerie Torrey took her son, Alex, and fled Los Angeles six years ago—leaving both her role on a cult sci-fi TV show and her co-star husband after a tragedy blew their small family apart. Now Val must reunite nine-year-old Alex with his estranged father, so they set out on a road trip from New York, Val making appearances at comic book conventions along the way.

As they travel west, encountering superheroes, monsters, time travelers, and robots, Val and Alex are drawn into the orbit of the comic-con regulars, from a hapless twenty-something illustrator to a brilliant corporate comics writer struggling with her industry's old-school ways to a group of cosplay women who provide a chorus of knowing commentary. For Alex, this world is a magical place where fiction becomes reality, but as they get closer to their destination, he begins to realize that the story his mother is telling him about their journey might have a very different ending than he imagined. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

There are a plethora of reasons why A Hundred Thousand Worlds spoke to me. One of the biggest would have to be the multitude of references that touch that inner geek inside of me. The one who could sense that a lot of the characters in Worlds might be loosely based on actual comic books and television shows I grew up on. Even Valerie’s sci-fi show, the character she played reminded me a lot of Dana Scully from The X-Files. It’s little touches like that,that drew me closer to everything going on, which at times felt chaotic, exciting and full of people. Much like comic-con.

And there’s Valerie and Alex, the mother and son duo who have been inseparable. A mother myself, it was hard not to feel for their situation. All she’s wanted to do is protect him, and in doing so, she made some pretty bad choices that are now coming back to haunt her. As the reunion with Alex’s estranged father draws near, I could literally feel the tension and gut-wrenching pain Valerie goes through. It’s written in such a way that isn’t over the top with flowery descriptions or grandiose. It’s realistic and simplistic, placing me right beside her, wanting desperately to hold her hand and tell her that all will be okay.

Alex often gives his own child-like perspective of what’s going on around him, and in doing so, the reader can discover the parallels that seamlessly blend together from one character to the next. Alex is precocious and wise beyond his years, which made sense in this setting. While he’s relied on his mother for most of his life, she’s relied on him, too. It’s also interesting that his own passions are heavily influenced by her own experiences, and he soon discovers that the inner workings of what he’s written, a comic, clearly becomes the story of his life. Such an interesting way to project a character’s inner struggle, which really is the theme here. Growing up is hard, and facing change can at times be an even harder situation to face, no matter how old you are. Sometimes, all you really want is a superhero to save the day.

Thanks to Viking for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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