on May 14, 2012 :
The following is my review of both THE MAN WHO CROSSED WORLDS and the very short prequel to to that novel called THE MAN WHO COULDN'T BE BOUGHT.
I have not read anything under the genre "urban fantasy" before so I have nothing to compare it to. Therefore, this is my first introduction to any "urban fantasy" novel.
I have learned, with this novel anyway, that there are no rules to the world(s) involved. This is a novel whereby the main character, Miles Franco, and others like him can punch holes into reality and can travel from one world to another and be able to understand the realities (fixed or not) in both worlds to survive.
The prequel to this novel (THE MAN WHO COULDN'T BE BOUGHT) introduces us to Miles Franco. Miles is an individual who has been gifted with, and schooled in, something called "tunneling." "Tunneling" allows an individual to travel from Earth to another world called Heaven. In this novel, Heaven is not what religious peoples envision as a place to go after death; it is just another world that has an entirely different reality than what is on Earth. Heaven, in this novel, is simply another world with another species of individuals called "Vei" who reside there. They are a little peculiar but, after all, they ARE aliens with their own culture. Heaven is not like Earth in many ways and it has its very own sense of existing. The laws of physics are completely different in this other world of "Heaven" and only experienced "tunnelers" who have traveled there frequently can understand its twisted and fluid realities and therefore learn their way around this other world and the culture that reside there.
Miles Franco is an experienced "tunneler" and has the necessary skills to harness the strange reality that exists in "Heaven." For this reason he is a wanted man. The cops on earth want to work with him to try to keep peace and harmony between the two coexisting worlds. Individuals in both worlds have a need for his special skills and he finds himself stretched very thin while trying, almost single-handedly, to keep peace between the two worlds. A little too much to expect out of one man but that does not stop Miles!
No matter how hard Miles tries to avoid getting involved in the smuggling of immigrants from Heaven to Earth and avoiding getting involved with the smuggling of drugs between the two worlds -- avoidance never happens for poor Miles. He finds himself in the thick of it more times than not.
Via the short prequel to this novel -- THE MAN WHO COULDN'T BE BOUGHT -- the reader gets a small taste of what Miles can do (for who and why) along with the type of person he is. The reader learns specifically HOW Miles "tunnels" back and forth and what he needs in his possession to do so -- including what it's like INSIDE a tunnel while traveling to or fro. The reader also get a peek into what the "other" world (Heaven) is. Even though there are so many different theories to describe Heaven, Miles explains that it is just pure and simple chaos. But far from a terrible kind of chaos. In fact, many times Miles could have been pleased to take up residence in one corner of that different world.
In the prequel (THE MAN WHO COULDN'T BE BOUGHT) Miles helps a lady from Heaven (of the Vei species) to return to her home city in Heaven after being on Earth for quite some time for personal reasons. What Miles is actually doing, however, is "smuggling" her back to Heaven.
SO SETS THE STAGE for the novel THE MAN WHO CROSSED WORLDS. Pardon some of the redundancy :
Told in first-person, we get a first-hand account of what happens via the main character -- Miles Franco. Miles is a young man who was educated and gifted with his forte of being a "tunneler." Miles is able to construct tunnels that can whisk him, and anyone who might be with him at any given time, from one world to the next. But this is no easy task and the risk for anything to go wrong is close to 100%. To Miles' advantage he is an expert in tunneling and traveling but not without high costs or losing his life at any given time. Especially when tunnels are beyond unpredictable and the other world (Heaven) has twisted realities.
What happens when two separate worlds (literally) in the universe with two separate cultures (human culture on Earth and a culture called "Vei" on Heaven) are aware of each other and often coincide with each other while the residents living in both worlds share some of the same evils? Pure hell, uncertainty and screaming chaos abounds.
The same evils in both worlds -- namely being gangsters, doctors and drug smugglers -- become inevitable. In this novel, creating and distributing powerful new drugs can change the course of history for both worlds. Or calls for a multi-world war. Author, Chris Strange, weaves a fantasy tale that is not too far from nonfiction for those with open minds.
Because the residents of Earth (humans) and the residents of Heaven (Vei) exist in both worlds and travel back and forth, depending on the circumstances, they have to learn to coexist with other which is far from easy to do. The one thing the two worlds have in common is that there is madness and undesirables in both cultures. But the biggie that exists is the quest for drugs along with the drug lords who will do almost anything to acquire those drugs and be in control of them.
In this novel, a new drug surfaces (created by a chemist) called "Chroma" which has the ability to wreak havoc with individuals. It is a potent drug that has the ability to turn those who inject it into their system into an entirely new species! What transpired with people high on Chroma in Heaven was downright scary enough and those who were on it would always be coming back for more. Miles was beyond nervous as to how his city (Bluegate) would have to deal with the deadly drug. The gangsters who had some of it began to kidnap innocents and "tested" Chroma on them. If it drove normal people mad, the violence would be horrifying. If tunnelers got their hands on it the universe would have gone mad. Therefore, MILES FRANCO TO THE RESCUE!!!
Miles just wants his own little world of peace and harmony with a few dollars to rub together to get by but, being a wanted man, he is always being sought out after and, being a man of great morals, ethics and principles, he wants no great payment for his skills and therefore really can't be "bought" to help others in both worlds of uncertainties. He just wants to keep the peace for humanity in his city on Earth (Bluegate) and save it from falling apart from the inside out because of so many corrupt peoples, greed and drugs that are causing it to fall apart. Sound familiar? As a result, Miles does what he does best -- "tunneling" back and forth between two worlds to try to make a peaceful connection between the two realities of the two worlds. In fact, tunneling REQUIRES that very thing (connection). Because Miles is a "freelance tunneler" he is definitely a wanted man by the best and the worst of both worlds. Miles is wanted by upstanding citizens in both worlds to prostitutes to drug lords.
Miles finds himself trying to figure out who the "bad guys" really are. Who is REALLY killing for the new drug "Chroma?" Could it be the Vei gangster (known as John Andrews) who resides on Earth with a whole lot of money and people behind him or the human detective (Detective Todd) who is supposed to be on Miles' side along with the other cops on Earth? Or someone else?
Miles finds himself working with an attractive female human cop (Vivian) but what part in all of this mess does SHE really play? Miles finds himself torn between the good, the bad and the ugly. Everyone wanted Miles to play their game, from the cops to the gangsters. The cops are always after the gangs and drugs but they never get ahead. The game still exists (as well as the drugs) and that's where Miles Franco shines.
Miles repeatedly finds himself trying to single-handedly do his part (to keep as much peace and harmony as possible) using his educated gift of "tunneling" which has him traveling from one world to another. He accomplishes this by both creating tunnels to travel back and forth from one world to another but, at the same time, also finding himself being sucked into interdimensional abyss' whereby he is not always in control.
Miles is also reckless and bold which even he realizes, after the fact, that these qualities end up in stupid moves putting himself and others into great jeopardy. This makes Miles all the more real to the reader. He is not completely supernatural (with his educated gift for tunneling) and has flaws of his own.
Between Heaven and Earth we shall abide. At least that is what protagonist Miles Franco shows us. In this novel Heaven and Earth are simply two different worlds. One world (Earth) is fixed in what we all realize "reality" is. On the flip side, another world (Heaven) is quite the opposite. This is where we have reality and fantasy mixed together. But what in the world happens (pardon the pun) when gangsters and drug cartel want what they always do (power and control) in both worlds?
*** What I really liked about this novel and what I could've done without :
Author, Chris Strange offers the reader to really know his protagonist -- Miles Franco. Miles is full of humor and self-deprecation which allows readers to easily relate to him. He is a do-gooder in both worlds with high standards and principles. But, boy, does he get himself into some messes! He is also a smartass which had me laughing many times while reading the novel. I was going to give this novel only 3 stars because these messes are really over-the-top but then I remembered that this is a fantasy novel and these very "out of this world" messes would be normal in the fantasy genre. Pardon the pun again (re:"out of this world"). :-)
I could really relate to Miles' feelings toward his own hometown on earth in this novel. Miles grew up and lives in a town called "Bluegate" on Earth and is familiar with it even though it fell into a very depressed, trashy state of affairs over the years. My hometown area on Earth did the same thing. My hometown is something I remember knowing and loving (like Miles) yet I can never go back to it expecting it to be the same when it's totally different. And certainly not for the better.
While every reader likes the storyline, I am no exception. But I am also a reader who takes good notice at the style of writing by any author. Chris Strange writes extremely well with fantastic analogies, metaphors, humor and great descriptions of the people and places throughout the novel. Therefore I was easily able to see, smell, taste and feel people, places and things in the novel as if I were right there. This was a huge plus for me!
*** What I didn't like about this novel was that no action really began until after about 50% into the novel. I know that the author had to describe the two worlds, had to describe "tunneling", had to go into detail to let the author know "what was what" but taking 50% of the novel to do that made it quite slow going.
Then, just the opposite occurs. The last 25% of the novel drove me crazy! The last 25% of the novel was consumed with a combination of Cujo, The Langoliers and a whole lot of crazy "new creatures" fighting and chewing and ripping and tearing apart those involved in the last 25% of the novel (including Miles who had to be on his 90th life going through all that). Because of this, the last quarter of the novel lost its credibility with me. I don't mind blood and gore but when it takes up a great deal of a story it seems endless. Especially when it is happening all at once for so long. This paragraph in the previous paragraph is why I rate this novel 4 stars. If there was a 3.5 choice of stars... I would choose that. :-)
Miles is always (too much) in a perpetual state of motion throughout the novel which also took away some of the credibility of the novel for me. On the flip side, however, one might say HOW COULD IT BE OTHERWISE when visiting a world (Heaven) that is always fluid and flexible and moving all the time as well as Miles being thrown in between both worlds -- among gangsters and drug lords and cops and 'new creatures.'
Lastly, the author made a brief introduction (VERY BRIEF) to a character early on in the novel who was nothing more than a passerby. Yet, toward the end of the novel, the author has Miles fighting to make sure this character was okay and going through hell and high water while risking his life TO ENSURE that character's safety. As if the character had been of great importance to Miles all along... which wasn't the case at all.
Author Chris Strange certainly has a gift for writing and his prose is excellent but, in my opinion, he needs to make things more cohesive in future novels as well as avoiding the pitfalls that I just described that made the storyline more boring than it could have been.
The author, Chris Strange, certainly has a great philosophy about writing that I think almost any author would agree with and to read what that is (if you are interested) go to his website found here: www.Chris-strange.com. With that type of philosophy the sky is the limit for his future writings!
(reviewed 6 months after purchase)