The Homeward Bounders

by Diana Wynne Jones

Paperback, 2002

Status

Available

Local notes

PB Jon

Barcode

1014

Publication

Greenwillow Books (2002), 272 pages

Description

Once he becomes a pawn in a game played by a powerful group he calls Them, 12-year-old Jamie is repeatedly catapulted through space and time.

Awards

Best Fiction for Young Adults (Selection — 1981)

Language

Original language

English

Original publication date

1981

Physical description

272 p.; 4.19 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member inkdrinker
I picked this book up because it was on a list somewhere (I forget what the list was even for) and I had placed it on my long list of books I ought to check out. When I finally found a copy of the book it looked (the cover) cheesy and the plot line discussed on the back of the book wasn’t any
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more appealing. However, because the cover contained endorsements from other authors I admire and because several Librarythingers had said that Jones was a great author, I decided to give it a try. I’m so glad I did. This book was superb. It grabbed me from the beginning and made me want to read more and more. The plotline was interesting, the characters felt quite real, and the concept behind the story was fantastic.

I loved the way Jones seamlessly wove characters from various myths and legends into the book. It reminded me of Neil Gaiman’s books but I actually thought Jones did a better job of using the myths. (Not that I think that Gaiman does a bad job.) She did this in spite of the fact that he characters were not always in worlds which might not seem to connect with these kinds of famous characters. Jones also did a great job of building mystery. From almost the start of the book she creates a sense that the world will not always be what it seems. This lack of balance keeps the reader dashing forward to discover more and more of what the book really is about.

Homeward Bounders was quite an enjoyable and thought provoking read. I would recommend it to any reader who enjoys novels which take a step beyond reality. For any adult who has read and liked this book, I would recommend checking out “The End of Mr. Y”. “Y” is not the same but it has a similar feel and the ideas within the book has some strong similarities.
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LibraryThing member WinterFox
Diana Wynne Jones is someone I often admire for having a seemingly endless quiver of pretty original ideas. At first glance, this isn't really one of them; the story is driven by the initial idea of there being a race of Them, pairs or groups of whom play games with different worlds, controlling
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events and manipulating them in vast war games. These worlds, of course, include Earth, but many others as well.

I still have to hand it to her for the creativity, though. The main character's a boy who finds out about Them playing on Earth, circa about 1879 or so. They then kick him out of the game, to roam the boundaries of the world, thus having to travel from one to another, and there Jones gets to describe a wide range of societies that are interesting in different ways. Warring societies, party societies, nomadic, religious, scientific... they're all here.

Jamie, the main character, provides a sympathetic view of what it is to be dragged from place to place, and how lonely it is. In the end, he does meet up with various others who travel with him, and in the end, attempt to take down the whole system. The secondary characters, beyond the first one introduced, aren't particularly well fleshed out, but they do provide a better focus, and Jones does do fairly well with broad strokes.

The book suffers from somewhat poor pacing, and the aforementioned lack of character development, but I still did quite like it. It's ultimately about hope and the lack of it, and personal sacrifice, and Jones does a good job of getting a nuanced view of each into a early young adult book. And, as she often does, she integrates mythological characters (Prometheus, the Wandering Jew, the Flying Dutchman) into the narrative in a way that works. I don't think it's her finest work, but if you're a fan, you're not going to be disappointed, really.
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LibraryThing member sandglass
Wow, what a downer ending! I read this one as a cooldown from the depressing but amazing slog that was Native Son, and I definitely did not get that. The story is about Jamie, who happens upon a silent garden with a triangular windowed building in the middle of a city. Inside the building, he meets
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Them and They kick him out of his world for seeing them. They're playing some kind of a war game with the world, and he becomes a random variable. They tell him if he gets back Home, they'll let him "reenter play."

He travels between the worlds, and gets pretty good at it. He meets Helen Hara-usquar, who has an arm she can turn into just about anything. Then they meet Jaris, who is a slave and demon-hunter in training, who is pretty much in love with his owner.

Overall, it's a little Euro-centric, but it's pretty awesome, aside from a ridiculously downer ending.
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LibraryThing member ColinFine
One of my favourite books. The basic conception is interesting, the story ranging through time, worlds and myths is fascinating, and the end is bitter-sweet.
LibraryThing member sara_k
Jamie stumbles into a game played by powerful non-humans. The players sweep Jamie into the game as a pawn and he finds himself popped from world possibility to world possibility. He is desperate to find his way home in this nightmare version of Groundhog Day.
LibraryThing member EragonHedre
About a boy who comes across Them by accident and sees them playing Their Game. He gets thrown in and is forced to travel from world to world meeting other people like himself. Forming a team, he and the others go up against Them to stop Yhem from playing Their game which involves the lives and
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destinies of people.
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LibraryThing member AJBraithwaite
I'd lost this for ages and it mysteriously reappeared just recently, so I treated myself to an indulgent afternoon of rereading it. I like the way it binds together old myths in a new way, although it is ultimately quite a sad story. It makes me reflect on the fact that there is always a Them in
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our lives and only constant vigilance and awareness of that that can keep things real.
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LibraryThing member librisissimo
As always, Jones writes a literate, thoughtful book with sufficient action and emotion for juniors while still interesting to adults. Some continuity and consistency problems, but an okay quick read.
LibraryThing member jennorthcoast
This book, published in 1981, evokes fun D&D and other gaming memories for me, and seems to pre-date TV show premises like “Sliders” and possibly even “Stargate.” But the plot is not fun-and-games, and the story is bittersweet, joining the ranks of DWJ’s "Dogsbody" and "Fire and Hemlock."
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This is a heavy story that deals with war, slavery, being different, sacrifice and hope; it touches on mythical ideas such as the Flying Dutchman and Prometheus—yet DWJ includes lighter elements like teenagers bickering and trying to learn cricket. She takes the phrase “you can’t go home again” and dissects it from every angle, making the reader consider not just where home is, but what home is.
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LibraryThing member jennorthcoast
This book, published in 1981, evokes fun D&D and other gaming memories for me, and seems to pre-date TV show premises like “Sliders” and possibly even “Stargate.” But the plot is not fun-and-games, and the story is bittersweet, joining the ranks of DWJ’s "Dogsbody" and "Fire and Hemlock."
Show More
This is a heavy story that deals with war, slavery, being different, sacrifice and hope; it touches on mythical ideas such as the Flying Dutchman and Prometheus—yet DWJ includes lighter elements like teenagers bickering and trying to learn cricket. She takes the phrase “you can’t go home again” and dissects it from every angle, making the reader consider not just where home is, but what home is.
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LibraryThing member wealhtheowwylfing
Not the best DWJ story (the Chrestomanci tales remain my favorites), but a good, imaginative piece of fiction about a young boy who is forced to travel between alternate universes until he can find his home reality.
LibraryThing member Cheryl_in_CC_NV
The world-building was great. But that's all I got out of this. I just didn't feel the characters or the adventures. It felt like the first book of a lame series, or like the novelization of a video game.
LibraryThing member DLMorrese
D&D, mythology, and the idea of parallel universes mix nicely in this YA adventure. It's a first-person account of a teenager who discovers that the world is a game, people are like pawns, and the players have been manipulating them for their own enjoyment for thousands of years. They especially
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like to play war. When Jamie is ejected from the game as a random element, he must wander the worlds in hope of finding his way back Home.
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LibraryThing member fred_mouse
This is a book that I very much loved as a kid, and rereading as an adult, I still find the plot (and the twists), the shout-outs to mythology, and the twisty nature of reality as presented in this story to be completely gripping. The characters were a little less interesting than I remember, but
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there is certainly an identifiable amount of diversity, which is somewhat atypical of a kids book of the time. The plot is detailed, the world-building spectacular (as one would expect from Jones), and the writing romps along at a great rate.
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LibraryThing member dreamweaversunited
This is such a clever and charming book. Would that I had the imagination of Diana Wynne Jones.
LibraryThing member mutantpudding
if this book was written today theres a few parts that could use a sensitivity reader but overall its a solid and interesting story and concept. Alternate tagline; Demons D&D game gets out of hand.

Pages

272

Rating

½ (261 ratings; 3.9)
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