Hulme and Wexler turn the intelligent design concept on its ear in their children's book debut, a kickoff to The Seems series. The premise: everything that happens in our world, from falling in love to the weather to time itself, is controlled by The Seems—“the place on the other side of the World responsible for generating what you see outside your window right now.” Twelve-year-old Becker Drane lives a double life, secretly working for the Institute for Fixing & Repair; when something goes wrong in The Seems, “Fixers” put the cosmic cogs back in working order. Becker's first mission as a Fixer is a doozy—find the glitch in the Department of Sleep that has turned everyone in the world into an insomniac. The authors use the conceit to the fullest, creating a complex and intricate world with a sometimes daunting array of gadgets, bureaucracy, vocabulary and capitalization (a glossary is included—and welcome). These details don't become overwhelming, fortunately, thanks to the book's consistently lighthearted tone (the Department of Sleep's radio station, WDOZ, broadcasts tracks like “The Hum of the Air Conditioner [Remix]” into humans' subconscious minds). The high sense of adventure and an abundance of goofball humor should appeal especially to boys. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)
20 best books of 2008 for middle school readers
December 24, 3:23 PM
by Diane Petryk Bloom, Children's Book Examiner
#5 The Seems – The Split Second by John Hulme and Michael Wexler (Bloomsbury USA, $17) Again, this is a sequel. But jump right in: Anything can happen in a Split Second. Becker Drane’s still got the coolest job in The World, but it’s getting harder and harder to live a normal life outside of The Seems. He’s definitely feeling the strain of being a teenager (complete with mood swings and a newfound respect for sarcasm) and he can’t stop thinking about Jennifer Kaley, the totally cool girl he met during his Mission in Sleep. Things don’t get any easier when a bomb explodes in the Department of Time and Becker is called in to pick up the pieces after a more senior Fixer couldn’t disarm the device. It’s his toughest mission yet, and Becker finds himself going places in The Seems he never knew existed, and meeting people long thought dead. Yep, it’s just another day in the life of Becker Drane. Let’s hope he lives to Fix again.
Hulme and Wexler previously wrote The Seems: The Glitch in Sleep. As the story goes, they accidentally stumbled upon the existence of The Seems after opening an unlocked Door in Wilmington, North Carolina, during the summer of 1995. From that moment on, they were obsessed with the curious realm they had discovered.
One reviewer said The Seems is ingenious, wildly inventive, laugh out loud funny, touching and poignant at times. …For you parents out there (and I am one): There are a number of important themes running through the book - the Seemsians, especially our protagonist Becker Drane, have strong ethics, remain true to their goals and doing the right thing, and they understand and buy into doing your part for society and following the rules that accompany life.
He also recommends no one pay attention to the age recommendation. The book is for everyone! A big thumbs up from Peter Glassman here.