Michael Chabon's foray into the YA genre turns into an ode to baseball, and you know, how it's a metaphor for life (no, I don't understand why. we don't play baseball here), and how playing it literally, saved the world from Armageddon.
Ethen Feld lives in a drizzly and dreary island obsessed with baseball. Unfortunately, he is horrible at it, the worst player anyone has ever seen. Then he gets recruited by a worlds-jumping creature to save Summerland, and save the worlds as they know it.
In the book, the universe is a giant tree, with four huge branches. One is the world as we know it, The Middling, then there's the Winterlands, Summerlands and the Gleaming. Cayote is plotting to bring down the tree, or put an end to the universe, by poisoning the well from which the tree universe gets nourishment.
Of course, Ethen Feld and his merry band of misfits (his bestfriend, a yeti, a ferisher, a changeling, a tiny dwarf.. you get the drift) travel and jump from world to world trying to catch up to Cayote and prevent him from ending life. This is done, of course, through baseball.
The book is a charming blend of Norse, Native American and North American mythology (those are all I recognized). It is quirky to the max with lots of amusing details and characters. Sometimes, I feel like it gets weighed down by all the quirk and the extraneous details. And like most children's fantasy, things just seem to fall into place. Sure, there are setbacks, but the protagonists seem to always find the perfect person, or the perfect weapon to escape the scraped they're in.
It is a wonderfully imaginative book, sometimes too much so that it seems sort of silly and random to me.