|Slow, Slow, Quick
The World House takes its’ time drawing you in.
Rather a long time.
The introduction of the myriad characters (a contemporary Brit, a Spanish thief from the 1930s, an American socialite from the 1920s, an alcoholic musician and his stripper friend from the 1970s, a little girl with Autism, and Alan from Florida) is a lengthy process. Lengthy, but well-written with interesting characters.
Then it takes more time to learn about the house: a place which apparently has no rules and where the laws of nature, physics and time are only suggestions. Again, well-written with interesting things going on.
Once Adams has you informed of the world and people in it, he accelerates the pace (somewhat erratically) to crescendo and then, poof, it is over. Or is it?
|A house wrapped up in a door inside a box
I love the notion of random people from different places and times being thrown together inside a house of infinite dimension hidden inside a box. (It felt cool just writing that line) I also like that there is a specific trigger for transportation to the house — be in possession of the box at a time of immediate peril. Cool stuff and also the only well-defined aspect of the house.
Once inside the house, things are a little (OK, a lot) more fluid. A living game of snakes and ladders, a library infested with bookworms the size of housepets, a bathroom housing an ocean, a jungle in a greenhouse and other rooms of varied content and scope are all connected by invisible portals. Travel within the rooms is challenging. Traveling between them, troublesome; and escaping entirely seems impossible. Except that it can be done and Alan knows it.
Of all his fellow visitors, Alan is the only one who actively sought the box and was aware of its’ secrets a priori. When we finally find out why Alan isn’t like the others, it isn’t a “Holy crap, I didn’t see that coming!” moment, nor is it a “Meh, totally saw it coming.” It is more of a “Yeah, OK, I see how that makes sense.” turn of events. It takes a long time to get there and is a very short journey from there to the cliff where we are left hanging at the end.
The lengthy preamble, seemingly bizarre interludes and cliffhanger ending may be off-putting for some. The pacing and interludes did try my patience at times, but that patience was rewarded. There was interesting stuff happening to interest people and the writing was good, so I kept reading. These dalliances (as they aren’t vital to the telling) never made me feel like the story was dragging, but rather that it was just moving leisurely and we would “get there when we get there.”
As for the unfinished business at the end of the book — I bought the sequel.