Author: Bob Proehl
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult
Hardcover, 368 Pages
Publication: June 28, 2016 by Vikings
Source: I received a review copy (arc) from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.
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 costar 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 lesbian comics writer 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.
I’ve read many books in my lifetime; I mean I am a reviewer (snorts). I may not have read quite as many books as I wanted or as much as my fellow reviewers/bloggers. However, I can say there are very few books that made a long-lasting impression, ones that made you contemplate life, self reflect and think about what’s truly important. A Hundred Thousand Worlds is amongst the few. I can relate to what it’s like being a nerd/geek (with pride), and had the pleasure to attend a comic convention twice…so I am a little bit familiar with the world. But A Hundred Thousand Worlds was so much more than the comic-con world, fandom, and the comic/tv/movie industry. It’s a story of family, friendship, and how stories and the people around us shape who we are and how we escape the real world through stories we tell.
Within the first page I was captivated by Alex and his mother Val. Val is a TV actress turned theater artist and is slowly returning to the tv/comic circuit after being M.I.A for years. Readers follow Val and her nine-year-old son Alex, as they travel cross country from New York to California, stopping along the way at various comic book conventions. I’ve said this many times, but it’s true, I’m a sucker when it comes to family stuff. I loved the mother-son relationship; it’s touching, realistic and heartwarming. While I enjoyed all the con stuff, their relationship was the highlight of the book for me. I also really enjoyed all the secondary and tertiary characters. Brett and the con ladies are at the forefront. I thought they were all very well developed and realized. Most side, background characters I've read aren’t as detailed or well written resulting in forgettable one-dimensional characters but Proehl’s characters were the complete opposite. He did a wonderful job at creating distinct and unique characters. And I enjoyed reading about each and every one of them.
A Hundred Thousand Worlds is equal parts imaginative, smart, fun and full of heart. I’ve read a handful of great novels so far this year, but I must say that A Hundred Thousand Worlds has climb the ranks to be one of my top reads. I loved the story, the characters and the writing was impeccable. This is Proehl’s debut novel, but if this is anything to go by, I can’t wait to see what’s to come. Proehl is definitely a writer to watch! I highly recommend A Hundred Thousand Worlds to everyone. A Hundred Thousand Worlds is not only for comic con fans…this is a novel that goes beyond its targeted audience; it is a novel for the every reader, young and old.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Bob Proehl grew up in Buffalo, New York, where his local comics shop was Queen City Bookstore. He has worked as a bookseller and programming director for Buffalo Street Books, a DJ, a record store owner, and a bartender. He was a 2012 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow in Fiction and a 2013 resident at the Saltonstall Arts Colony. He has written for the 33⅓ book series and worked as a columnist and reviewer for the arts and culture site PopMatters.com. Proehl currently lives in Ithaca, New York, with his family.