Series: The Space Between Worlds #1
Published by Crown Books (8.4.2020)
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Format: Audiobook, 336 pages
Length: 11 hours, 46 minutes
Narrator: Nicole Lewis
Multiverse travel is finally possible, but there’s just one catch: No one can visit a world where their counterpart is still alive. Enter Cara, whose parallel selves happen to be exceptionally good at dying—from disease, turf wars, or vendettas they couldn’t outrun. Cara’s life has been cut short on 372 worlds in total.
On this Earth, however, Cara has survived. Identified as an outlier and therefore a perfect candidate for multiverse travel, Cara is plucked from the dirt of the wastelands. Now she has a nice apartment on the lower levels of the wealthy and walled-off Wiley City. She works—and shamelessly flirts—with her enticing yet aloof handler, Dell, as the two women collect off-world data for the Eldridge Institute. She even occasionally leaves the city to visit her family in the wastes, though she struggles to feel at home in either place. So long as she can keep her head down and avoid trouble, Cara is on a sure path to citizenship and security.
But trouble finds Cara when one of her eight remaining doppelgängers dies under mysterious circumstances, plunging her into a new world with an old secret. What she discovers will connect her past and her future in ways she could have never imagined—and reveal her own role in a plot that endangers not just her world, but the entire multiverse.
I’m so sad that I didn’t love this book. It’s a parallel world sci-fi, which absolutely should have been my jam; but despite the cool concept and world, there were too many things that annoyed me and completely ruined the enjoyment.
First of all, the prose is not great. It’s quite dry and unfeeling, leaving me incredibly detached from the story. (The MC’s apathetic tone did not help with that fact, but I’ll get to that in a moment.) There was a lot of telling instead of showing, and a lot of things about the world weren’t explained. And, the worst offender: This book broke its own rules. I think this is probably my pet peeve in fiction, even higher than instalove and love triangles. There’s nothing that pisses me off more in a fictional world than to have the book say “this can’t happen” and then…it happens.
In the beginning, it’s stated that two of the same person CANNOT exist in one world. If a person were to travel to another Earth (there were 380 of them) where their doppleganger is alive, they immediately die a horrible, painful death of basically being ripped apart because the universe can’t handle the paradox and seeks to correct that wrong. (Or rather, their time travel goddess rips them apart in her fury…??? …that was a really odd addition that was only glossed over, and completely unnecessary in my opinion, but whatever.) Two of the same person not being able to exist in the same world makes sense.
Yet, somehow Cara ends up on a world where she is still alive and starts dying and…nothing. She calls for help and goes to some magical healing pod and then everything is fine, because of course it is. And she’s magically the exception, because of course she is. Listen, if she had immediately noped out of that world and been fine, okay yeah that works. But she stayed on the world with another her and didn’t die, and that made me irrationally pissed. YOU SAID THAT WAS NOT POSSIBLE. But now it is, because the plot calls for it. And to add fuel to my fire of outrage, they then go to state (like the book is backpedaling over its own rule breaking and wants to explain away the fuck up) that it’s only “rare,” not impossible, for two of the same person to exist in the same universe without being torn apart. What the fuck? This made me so ragey that I probably would have thrown the book if I hadn’t been listening to the audio.
And then it got even worse! She saw her doppleganger, and they both started vomiting uncontrollably, because their brains were basically breaking and couldn’t handle seeing one another, and then….it’s fine. It’s totally fine. It never happens again and they coexist perfectly fine, and even give each other *looks* because they know themselves and can decipher their looks. WHAT. THE. FUCK.
The next major problem I had was that I couldn’t stand Cara, the MC. She’s apathetic, pessimistic, and has a devil-may-care attitude about everything that I guess was supposed to come off as badass, but just made her seem like an asshole. She was selfish AF and made rash, stupid decisions constantly. Her apathetic tone and inner voice grated on my nerves to the point that I didn’t even want to continue.
I didn’t care about any of the other characters, either. None of them had any real personality to speak of. They did have stupid names though. The emperor is called Nik Nik. How TF can I take an emperor seriously with that name? How is anyone supposed to take him seriously? We also had Mr. Cheeks, who was a runner (aka a mercenary, basically). I think it was supposed to be a cheeky (har har) name for a badass dude like Mr. Bubbles from Lilo & Stitch, but it just sounded stupid and immature. Speaking of immature, I saw someone say that the MC is 26, which is shocking because she feels like a teenager. This book is not Adult by any means, even though it’s labeled as such. The book feels strongly like YA.
In addition to not caring about the characters, I also didn’t care about the “romance.” I hated it, actually. They basically hate each other, but they only hate each other because of a miscommunication that could have easily been solved by talking to each other. Which resulted in their “relationship” being toxic AF right up until the very end. Cara claims to love Dell, but treats her like shit at the same time she’s pining away for her. And besides the fact that they were awful to each other, they had ZERO chemistry whatsoever.
I’m grateful that this was a fairly short read, and I was surprisingly able to listen at 2.4x speed (the highest I’ve ever gone, usually I’m between 1.7-2x) and got through it fairly quickly. Suffice to say I will not be picking up the second book.
Writing style: 2.5/5
Overall rating: 1.5/5