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Becker Drane is the young hero of this book, the first in a series titled The Seems. The Seems is the world behind our world, a place that manufactures all the bits and pieces of our reality, from gravity to the weather, from time to your sense of smell. Most of these industries operate smoothly, but now and then something goes wrong in the Seems – and when that happens, it becomes a disaster in our world. That’s when a Fixer is called in.
Unlike other careers in the Seems, Fixers come from our world. It has something to do with the “7th Sense,” an instinct for when something happening in our world is the result of a glitch in the Seems. Without this 7th Sense, Fixers would be unable to find the cause of the problem and figure out how to fix it. So, from time to time, candidates are invited to cross the In-Between and train to become Fixers.
The youngest Fixer is 12-year-old Becker Drane, who has been working his way up from a mere Briefer since he was 9 years old. The story of how he got his job is charmingly loopy, but that is all background to this book, his first adventure as a full-fledged Fixer. It’s a big one, too. For a nasty glitch has somehow gotten into the Department of Sleep. If the glitch isn’t found and captured by dawn, the entire world will lose a night’s sleep. And while that may not sound like much of a disaster to you, there is a lot riding on a good night’s sleep. Planned chains of cause-and-effect. Moments of serendipity that could change lives, even the world. The structural integrity of the universe, etc.
Becker doesn’t trouble himself (much) with questions about why things happen the way they do, whether or not there really is a Plan behind everything that happens, or whether that Plan is any good considering, for example, how Becker tragically lost his two best friends within a year or so. But then one of them turns up again, lurking in the shadows, whispering of plans by a dissident group that will probably cause lots of trouble for Becker in future instalments
For now, however, he has to concentrate on completing his first mission. It’s a tough one, and though no one has a better chance than Becker of succeeding, he has soon made enough mistakes to put his job in jeopardy. And since it really is the best job in the world, failure is literally his worst nightmare.
Young fantasy readers will enjoy this quirky adventure, which builds a lot of suspense from a sense of time ticking down to the catastrophic unravelling of reality. Like some other current series, such as D. J. MacHale’s Pendragon cycle, this book communicates on the level of the hip, street-smart, techno-savvy kid of today – which makes it fun to read right at this moment, though it will probably seem lame and dated in a few years. So hurry up and enjoy this charming entertainment piece before it becomes a museum piece; and if you like its off-kilter sense of humour and reality, look out for Book 2, The Split Second.