We've all been in that sticky situation where you find something creepy in your basement. We've all experienced that terror and uncertainty, but Lilly's got something we don't. Her brave older brother, Marco.
Lilly's always been a bit strange. She...knows things. Oh, you're missing a sock? You dropped it behind your bed. Where's Marco? He went for a walk in the park. What's the secret you've been hiding from everyone? Lily knows. But Lilly's very timid and shy, so when she finds the strange glowing lights on the wall in the basement, she fetches her brother Marco.
Marco can't see the lights, but when he reaches out (under Lilly's instruction), his hands go right through the wall! It is in fact a portal to another world, a strange and frightening one full of strange and frightening creatures...who want Lilly.
As things unfold, it turns out that the other world is in terrible danger, danger that could also affect Earth. So Lilly and Marco set out to solve the problem, but with a vast time difference between the two worlds (five minutes in the alien world is an entire afternoon on Earth), will they be able to save the universe in time?
William Sleator is, without a doubt, one of the greatest authors of all time. He's the man who brought us Interstellar Pig and the horrifying House of Stairs. And despite a slow beginning, Marco's Millions is another amazing piece of literature.
While it seems like something for a younger audience, it gets so intense at the end that I really couldn't put it down all afternoon. The characters may be a bit two-dimensional, but there's so much action going on that anything more about the characters would just clutter up the book. Mr. Sleator knows when to focus on the plot.
And don't get me started on time travel. It's a dangerous and tragic thing, and absolutely awesome when in the right hands. And let me tell you, Mr. Sleator definitely owns a good pair. While it is a bit awkward when he suddenly starts throwing in heavier scientific terms (singularity, complex time difference equations), it's very easy to get past. Only for a moment do you stop and go, "Wait, what?"
This is actually a prequel to Mr. Sleator's earlier novel, The Boxes, which is quite good, but not nearly as good as "Marco". Nevertheless, "Marco" holds a certain hint of awesome that only comes into effect if you've already read The Boxes, so I'd recommend reading that first if you can get your hands on both books.
I'm also very sad to report that William Sleator died last year on August 3rd in Thailand (apparently he had a house there). He will be sorely missed.
You might like this if you: like time travel; like other William Sleator novels; like books like Last Stop; are a fan of scifi, but not the hard stuff; or if you have a dark and scary basement.