A Thousand Pieces of You
by Claudia Gray
Expected Publication Date: November 4, 2014
Length: 368 pages
Obtained Via: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review via Edelweiss from the publisher. I was not compensated for this review, and this is no way affects my opinion of the book.
Format Read In: E-ARC
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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.
A Thousand Pieces of You appealed to me immediately because of the gorgeous cover and the fascinating premise. I find multiverse stories inherently interesting–as in, if you have multiple universes to play around in, all quite different from each other, you have to work to make that story boring. A Thousand Pieces of You wasn’t boring, but it wasn’t quite as exciting as I had hoped for either.
A Thousand Pieces of You starts with the main character, Meg, in an alternate universe to her own. Meg’s parents are scientist working on multi-dimensional universe travel, and it’s revealed early on that Meg’s father was killed by a graduate student, Paul. Along with another graduate student, Theo, Meg sets off to span the universes looking for Paul and getting the revenge. However, it’s clear early in the story that all is not as it seems and Paul might not be as guilty as Meg originally expected.
The parallel universe parts were by far the most exciting. There were times I thought I would just be completely happy with Meg exploring new universes, never mind hunting someone down. The way A Thousand Pieces of You treats multiple universes is fascinating! Basically, every choice every time spans a different universe. That means big choices and outcomes(so for example, there would be a universe in which England won the American Revolutionary War), but also smaller ones–one particular universe that Meg travels to is almost identical to her own, except her parents made a scientific breakthrough a few years earlier.
What gets really interesting, however, is the body-jumping. In the A Thousand Pieces of You world, you can only travel to a parallel universe if an alternate version of you exist in that universe, because you take over your alternate self’s body. This limits the universes the characters in A Thousand Pieces of You can travel to, and I found this concept really fascinating, especially how it plays out in the book later.
Due to the nature of the plot, the universe-jumping in A Thousand Pieces of You often feels like a fast race to catch someone and fix the universe. I found the book was strongest when the characters didn’t spend more than a day or two in each universe. There’s a universe in which Meg lives in Russia, and the characters get stuck in that one for quite awhile. This is the stretch of book that felt less fast-paced and ultimately contributed to a lower rating for a few reasons. One, Meg is basically stuck waiting on someone to fix her Firebird(the device that allows her to travel across universes), so until then it’s mostly just her playing pretend. This is also where the bulk of the romance happens, and, well, it gave me a gross and icky feeling for one primary reason.
(Warning: These next paragraphs talk about issues of sexual consent and contain slight relationship spoilers)
In the Russia-universe, Meg realizes that her alternative self has feelings for Alt!Universe Paul. Due to something that happened previously, however, the default-universe’s Paul is basically asleep in his alternative self’s body, as he doesn’t remember who he is. Alt!Universe Paul is in love with the girl he thinks is the Meg’s he’s always known, but it’s default-universe Meg. Meg is quite enamored with Alt!Universe Paul, and they end up having sex.
This will never feel anything but gross to me, because even though default-universe Meg is pretty sure this universe’s Meg feels the same way about Paul, she can’t be sure. Alt!universe Meg is basically asleep in her own body as default-universe Meg uses it. It’s definitely proven in the book that different versions of the same person can make radically different choices, so default-universe Meg really has no way of knowing if alt!universe Meg would have slept with that universe’s Paul or not. Even though they’re both versions of Meg, they’re still slightly different and it’s not default-universe Meg’s body or her choice. Even though they’re two parallel versions of the same person, I can’t logic my way out of the inherent consent issue I see.
Default-universe Meg does think about this later and is torn over her decision, so I’m glad the issue was at least addressed, but I would have liked to see it done more in-depth. Meg thinks about how she may have taken something away from that universe’s Meg–a night that should have been her’s–but it’s only one quick line of thought before the story bounces back to the action. Even though I was really enjoying A Thousand Pieces of You up to that point, it just raised so many issues and then failed to deal with them that I was immediately taken out of the story.
A Thousand Pieces of You had me loving the premise, but feeling a little more iffy on the story execution. There are some really great parts here, and I’ll probably continue the series, but the parts that left me torn really did damper my feelings on the book intensely. 3/5 cupcakes.