For a story about parallel worlds, this book is hardly science fiction at all.
On the world of Ith—where Patrick has arrived under mysterious circumstances—people are obsessed with video games and dystopian stories, everyone is always under surveillance, and there’s a constant fear of terrorists and subversives. Aliens: they’re just like us. (Illustrations reveal that both ETs and Earthlings are a diverse bunch, including light-brown Patrick and his mother.) The few surprises in the book come from small, comic details. The people of Ith have enormous eyes and tiny ears. This turns out to be a clever—and utterly bonkers—pun: people from Ith (pronounced “Eyeth”) have big eyes. People from Earth have big ears. And from time to time, a jackalope or a griffin will show up. (The griffin is named Michael, but it’s pronounced “My-Chale,” because Ith is big on phonetic pronunciation.) Unfortunately, the book’s villain isn’t surprising at all. He’s the sort of evil overlord who pops up in badly animated cartoons. But he does love Creed, which may amuse fans of post-grunge music. By the time readers get to the cliffhanger ending, they may be more exhausted than amused.
The story could use less of the villain and more of the giant jackalope. But then, every book needs more jackalopes. (Science fiction. 8-12)