This book has been sitting around on my shelf since I got it from Bookmooch ages ago. William Sleator is one of the great science fiction writers for young adults — The Green Futures of Tycho and Interstellar Pig, just for instance, are fascinating and unexpected novels — and I expected The Boy Who Reversed Himself to be equally interesting.
Sorry to disappoint you (and myself), but no such luck. As the story begins, Laura finds a note in her locker, warning her of an upcoming biology quiz, and it’s written in mirror-writing. At first she’s baffled. Then it appears that her weird neighbor Omar has the power to get into “four-space” (the fourth dimension) and can take her with him! Four-space, in Sleator’s imagination, is full of monsters with trinocular vision and other looming dangers. Soon thereafter, Laura, trying to impress Pete, the local jock, goes into four-space without Omar’s supervision and gets lost, and it was right there that I opted out. The characters were (I hate to say it) two-dimensional, without motivation, and honestly annoying. Worse than that, I am reading Stephen Hawking’s The Universe in a Nutshell right now, and what I don’t know about four-space isn’t worth knowing, and it’s nothing like that, buster. If science fiction is going to be badly written, the least it can do is get its science right. Sleator’s bad luck (or mine), I guess. Onward and upward.