Debut authors Mundell and Lacast team up to present a YA science-fantasy epic set in a strange, allegorical universe that exists within a human brain, complete with its own residents, creatures, and laws.
Bernard Knifton is almost 14 and in dire need of a new idea for a science project. Unfortunately, his dad, Floyd, is no help, as he has even less time for his son since Bernard’s mother died. Floyd works at a lab with its own particle accelerator, however, which is perfect, because Bernard’s new project idea aims to prove that wormholes exist. The teenager gets more than he bargains for, though, when he slips into the accelerator. A stray wormhole sucks him up and deposits him in a strange, alien universe inside his father’s brain—a place that its residents call the “Brainiverse.” One of the residents, Basilides, a young member of the Holon species, initially rescues Bernard from the creature that brought him to his world. Together, the two boys must investigate the loss of a life force called Energeia, which is causing widespread deaths of neurons, the city-states of the Brainiverse. If they don’t figure out the cause, Bernard might not get home, or if he does, the father he remembers might not be waiting there for him. This story is full of high-stakes adventure, and it often excels in its imaginative and allegorical exploration of real-world issues. The descriptions of the various locations, creatures, and residents of the Brainiverse are both fun and intelligent. Bernard is an engaging protagonist, and although he’s less convincing in scenes set outside the Brainiverse, he really comes to life within it. Other, secondary characters in the outside world, however, don’t get this chance and often come across as stereotypes, such as an unimaginative teacher, a hard-case boss, and a know-it-all classmate. Fortunately, that world is very soon left behind for the phantasmagoria that is the Brainiverse.
An imaginative adventure yarn with a few rough spots, but one that clearly benefits from the great amount of thought that its authors put into it.