A Thousand Pieces of You: Review

A Thousand Pieces of You: ReviewA Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
Series: Firebird #1
Published by HarperTeen on November 4, 2014
Genres: science fiction
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Amazon • Indiebound • Barnes & Noble • Goodreads

two-half-stars

Every Day meets Cloud Atlas in this heart-racing, space- and time-bending, epic new trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray.

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.

This book. This book, you guys. I wanted angst, and torment, and heartbreak across dimensions. Instead I got a sort of weird sci-fi light story, mixed with historical fiction, and a half-hearted love triangle to boot.

The basic gist is that consciousness swapping across multiple universes is real and scientifically supported. If you like any sort of novel in which the character escapes reality and is able to visit other worlds this will immediately appeal to you. But where the story began to lose me is that it dumps you into the “after the fact” of the protagonists’ emotional journey. She is already in deep mourning for her father who was apparently sabotaged by his graduate student, Paul. There is an attempt to make up for this by showing us flashbacks of family interactions and how Paul, and Theo, another grad student, interacted with Marguerite’s family before, but everything after suffers from the remove from the present. For this sort of story to work at full effect I need to know the family before where the story dumps us. The scant flashbacks did not help.

At the same time, the “multiple universes” angle felt woefully inadequate to me. There are only three (not including our own) universes that Marguerite gets to explore. Your mileage may vary on how many parallel universes it takes to satisfy your itch. In this book we get a barely future London, a “present” that is basically early 20th century Romanov Russia, and a “present” that is heavily aquatic based. Imagine living on the ocean equivalent of space stations. But none of these realities are half as important as the love story that is, apparently, being told across them.

I was happy to accept the explanation of Paul as a super genius to place him as a 19 year old graduate student. I would’ve been otherwise tremendously creeped out by a grad student having apparently very intense feelings for a high schooler. And still, there is a love triangle. Ish. Theo is a standardly aged grad student. He’s at least 22 but most likely older. A 22+ year old crushing on a 17 year old gives me major pause. If Paul hadn’t been explained to be younger I probably would never have finished with the novel.

It makes me sad. So sad. What more do I love beyond romance-centric science fiction? (Not much!!) But here the relationships failed to live up to their potential. There was too much else going on in this novel (what with all the reality jumping) to give even a slight love triangle any weight. Everything seems to work out too conveniently in terms of who lives and dies. For stories to really resonate with me I need sacrifice. I need something that makes a victory worth it.

And this book just loses itself, especially around the midway point. Is it a book about finding/saving Marguerite’s dad or is it a book about finding Paul and saving him/selves? The story doesn’t seem capable of answering this question and it so it settles and View Spoiler »does both « Hide Spoiler And it also lost me, majorly, when the main character makes a major decisions for an alternate self. View Spoiler » Marguerite chose to experience her relationship with Romanov Paul knowing that she was taking Romanov Marguerite’s place and stealing her ownership of the situation. Also, THEY HAVE SEX IMMEDIATELY AFTER A VIOLENT ATTACK AGAINST HER FAMILY IN WHICH SHE IS UNSURE OF HER SIBLINGS AND FATHERS SURVIVAL. Marguerite has already shown herself to be attached to these people so it does not mean nothing that they are in peril. Yet she throws everything aside to be with Paul whom she has minimal evidence for being innocent…Oy… « Hide Spoiler

I see this book being enjoyed by readers who are into it for the “thrill ride” offered by a reality jumping dimensions novel. If that sort of reader is also fine going along with whatever romance the story is pushing then this is a perfect book! Unfortunately, I’m just not that person. There is decent world building for the parallel universes and they are interesting places to be, but if you are also looking for emotional resonance this is is not the story that is going to connect with you. I wish I could’ve been more of the, “Cool! Parallel universes!” type and less the “I wish that heartbreak had been deep and long suffering” type. This would have been a totally different novel for me. Ah well. It certainly does a very fine and fun job of creating different realities. Unfortunately, if you’re looking for emotional resonance in your reading reality you might find this one lacking.

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