Eternity’s Wheel provides an appropriate and satisfying conclusion to the InterWorld saga. This arguably the most powerful book in the series.
When the story opens, Joey Harker is back home on his Earth, injured and cut off from his InterWorld teammates. He doesn’t know if he managed to stop FrostNight, Acacia Jones is MIA, and Base Town is trapped and fleeing HEX. Joey goes to Mr. Dimas (his old social studies teacher) for help and advice, and then he embarks on a quest to seek out and recruit more Walkers to train a new army to fight Binary and HEX.
This is an excellent premise for the final volume of the series. At heart, these books are about Joey growing up and accepting his full adult responsibilities. Left on his own like this, he buckles down and does what he thinks is needed. He makes himself a leader.
The story doesn’t go quite as one might expect, though, given the initial circumstances. This turns out not be a quest story. The obstacles Joey encounters are surprising and unexpected. An old nemesis makes a new appearance and we meet a new Time Agent. A new Walker comes and goes from the story with shocking swiftness, but with powerful effects. Joey witnesses the end of worlds. It all leads inevitably to a final confrontation in which Joey must choose between saving himself or saving reality. In the end, this is a powerful story of redemption.
We learn more about the Old Man and more about TimeWatch. We see a bit more, as well, about how different time streams may (or may not) be inter-related within the larger scale of the Multiverse.
The story explores responsibility, sacrifice, redemption, family, friends—all the important issues we face as we make our way through our lives.
What I like best about Eternity’s Wheel is that the authors let the end be messy. Joey doesn’t save everyone and everything. People die and worlds are ended. Much of the damage done by Binary and HEX is irreparable. This isn’t neat or tidy, it’s not a pat happy ending.
But it’s the correct ending for this type of story. For a story about growing up, facing challenges and accepting your responsibilities, there must be consequences for the characters to cope with. There’s always an aftermath to deal with. Bad things happen but life goes on. Ultimately, accepting that fact is the final—and most important—step in growing up.
Eternity’s Wheel may not end with everything put right. This may not be an unreservedly happy ending. But it’s hopeful and it’s empowering. This is an ending that leads to more and better things in Joey Harker’s life—more challenges and rewards, more mistakes and consequences, more responsibility.
That’s life. That’s the reality of growing up. Such an ending is entirely satisfactory.