Showing posts with label parallel worlds. Show all posts
Showing posts with label parallel worlds. Show all posts

Monday, February 27, 2017

[Review] A Darker Shade of Magic (#1) - V.E. Schwab: 19th Century London and Parallel Universes





In A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC, Kell is one of the blood magicians who are gifted with the ability to wander between parallel worlds.

What intrigued me: Recommended by literally everyone.

Textbook writing and too many info dumps

A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC certainly has a great base frame, but absolutely can't hide the fact that it doesn't quite know what to do with all that world building. Protagonist Kell is a smuggler, an adopted royal, a blood magician, and handles the correspondence between the four different Londons. To get that all inside your head, you'll already need a moment. The biggest problem is that there is so much about this world and so many specific rules, quirks, and things to know, that there is no way you'll have a good time reading this for the first time. Paired with incredibly factual and emotionless writing, it reads like a textbook. I was often torn between utter disinterest and sort-of fascination. 

I grew insanely frustrated the more I read because I simply didn't understand what was happening and why it was happening, and who the bazillion side characters are. A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC plays in this sort-of 19th century-inspired historical-ish world that has kings and queens and (sometimes?) magic. Ish. I say Ish because even after having read this I still don't get it. Usually you'd expect a novel to lay out the basics within the first 100 pages, but in A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC, you'll still be wrestling with exposition on page 350 of 400. 

Clearly the idea is there and Schwab really tried to set up an original world, but half of it neither makes sense nor is comprehensible to the average first time reader. This is not the type of fantasy I enjoy - throwing words in made-up languages around and introducing so many different parallel worlds that you're constantly confusing everyone. 

One dimensional characters and predictability

Because Schwab so heavily puts the focus on the world building, the characters are absolutely suffering. Everyone in A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC is one-dimensional, not even the protagonist Kell has an ounce of a personality. It's a shame because you can tell that a lot of effort went into this. At the end of the day, I think this book is impossible to enjoy if you prefer your high fantasy to make sense and to form a connection with the fictional characters you're reading about. 

On top of all that - the plot is just very predictable and anti-climactic. Of course protagonist Kell must face the only other rare special snowflake blood magician in the book aside from him because of some barely-plausible plot convenience; and of course there is a mystery about his birth parents that we only get to solve if we buy the next two books. 


Rating:

☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC wasn't for me. From a predictable plot to confusing world building, to writing that I just don't like, this one is a clear miss for me personally.



Additional Info

Published: 24th February 2015
Pages: 400
Publisher: Tor
Genre: Adult / Sci-Fi / Parallel Worlds
ISBN: 9780765376459

Synopsis:
"Kell is one of the last Antari, a rare magician who can travel between parallel worlds: hopping from Grey London — dirty, boring, lacking magic, and ruled by mad King George — to Red London — where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire — to White London — ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne, where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back — and back, but never Black London, because traveling to Black London is forbidden and no one speaks of it now.

Officially, Kell is the personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see, and it is this dangerous hobby that sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to take her with him for her proper adventure.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save both his London and the others, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — a feat trickier than they hoped."(Source: Goodreads)

 Have you read A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC?

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Thursday, February 9, 2017

[Review] A Million Worlds With You (Firebird #3) - Claudia Gray: Parallel Universes and Evil Twins




In A MILLION WORLDS WITH YOU, Marguerite's evil parallel universe self is hell-bent on killing every version of Marguerite in every single universe she can so she can't sabotage the plans of Home Office.

What intrigued me: The conclusion to my favorite series of all time. It hurts.

Chasing through universes

A MILLION WORLDS WITH YOU picks off right where the sequel left off. And I gotta say - that premise didn't do it for me. While Firebird is and will always remain my favorite book series, I wish it had been a duology. See, this whole Evil Twin coming to destroy the world storyline does feel a little over the top in my opinion and I just didn't enjoy it as much as the other books and found myself wishing for the story to get wrapped up more quickly. This is absolutely subjective.

The universes Gray shows us this time around are interesting, but not explored nearly as much as they could have! But because the premise is so reliant on the chasing part I was a little sad to see Marguerite spend very few time with the individual Pauls or even just in the universes. Where is the fluff! I feel like sometimes along the complicated plot lines and the excellent world building, the romance fluff got lost. Sure, we had Russia. But that was it? 

Arguably the most interesting parts of  A MILLION WORLDS WITH YOU are those when Marguerite returns to previously visited universes. I really loved that in TEN THOUSAND SKIES ABOVE YOU already and I just can't get enough of checking in with the other scientists.  But regardless, A MILLION WORLDS WITH YOU feels like a wild goose chase, jumping from universe to universe so fast and filled with barely plausible plot conveniences, I didn't like this nearly as much as the other books in the series.

Still grieving my husband

I have a confession to make: I don't think I ship Paul and Marguerite. I don't think I ever did. The problem is that both the reader and Marguerite get to know Paul on a deep emotional level in the Russia!Verse, where he is the Grand Duchess' protector Lieutenant Markov. And I never got over him. 
See, Lieutenant Markov shows the tender side of Paul, the romantic side - and in "real life" he's this grumpy smart-aleck who's angry all the time. The swooniness and the magic all poofed away with Lieutenant Markov's passing. A moment of silence. Anyway. I'm complaining on a high level here and this might not even ring true for you because you probably really loved Paul. I'm just a sad widow because my book husband was taken from me. 

But I'm so happy that we got another cuddly version of Paul with the sweet Father Paul from the Rome!Verse who has to choose between letting himself love Marguerite or staying celibate. Be still my beating heart! I'll definitely go back to TEN THOUSAND SKIES ABOVE YOU and reread the Rome!Verse parts with him, he's such a gentle flower that must be protected and made up a bit for the chronic lack of calm romantic fluff in this series. 

The Firebird books are excellent and just like the predecessors A MILLION WORLDS WITH YOU presents an interestesting journey through the universes. It would've wanted more action and a compelling narrative from this than it actually delivered - it very much feels like an unnecessary sequel with a very disappointing and too convenient ending. However, if you've read one, you gotta read them all. I'm sad to say goodbye.




Rating:

★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

A few words to mourn the ending of this series: Despite A MILLION WORLDS WITH YOU's lack of my favorite thing about this series, my darling Russia!Verse including my favorite Paul, I loved visiting these different worlds.

I surely wouldn't mind returning to the world of Firebird with a prequel about Conley and Josie's romance from the Home Office!Verse. So if Claudia's up for that, I'll be back.

The rest of the series reviewed
A THOUSAND PIECES OF YOU (1) | TEN THOUSAND SKIES ABOVE YOU (2)


Note: A thing that seriously worries and confuses me is that out of ALL the worlds and universes we visit, there isn't a single one where Marguerite/Paul/Theo are lgbt. There is only one universe where one of them is disabled - deaf, actually - though the time spent there is so short that you can barely call this representation. (Well then there's one where a character loses a leg but they don't appear on-screen after that so that doesn't count either.)

While there is an explanation for this lack of marginalizations/diversity in the books ~wishy washy we're meant to be together fate yada yada~, I think it wouldn't have been that hard to even just add -one- universe where they're lgbt. Out of all the decisions they have to make to lead to Marguerite and Paul's epic love 90% of the time, you can't try to tell me that there isn't a single universe where Paul ended up with Theo, or Marguerite decided she liked neither and is a lesbian or is bi and ended up with a girl. [Totally seeing her and Romola. Yes.] What do you guys think?



Additional Info

Published: November 1st 2016
Pages: 419
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: YA / Sci-Fi / Parallel Worlds
ISBN: 9780062279026

Synopsis:
"A million universes. A million dangers. One destiny.

The fate of the multiverse rests in Marguerite Caine’s hands. Marguerite has been at the center of a cross-dimensional feud since she first traveled to another universe using her parents’ invention, the Firebird. Only now has she learned the true plans of the evil Triad Corporation—and that those plans could spell doom for dozens or hundreds of universes, each facing total annihilation.

Paul Markov has always been at Marguerite’s side, but Triad’s last attack has left him a changed man—angry and shadowed by tragedy. He struggles to overcome the damage done to him, but despite Marguerite’s efforts to help, Paul may never be the same again.

So it’s up to Marguerite alone to stop the destruction of the multiverse. Billions of lives are at stake. The risks have never been higher. And Triad has unleashed its ultimate weapon: another dimension’s Marguerite—wicked, psychologically twisted, and always one step ahead."
(Source: Goodreads)


Have you read any books by Claudia Gray?

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Friday, September 16, 2016

Recommendation: Ten Thousand Skies Above You (Firebird #2) - Claudia Gray: Multiple Universes and Epic Romance





In TEN THOUSAND SKIES ABOVE YOU, Marguerite is forced to help their enemies from the Triad Corporation by sabotaging other dimensions' research if she wants her boyfriend Paul back, whose consciousness has been splintered and has to be retrieved in four different dimensions.


What intrigued me: The first novel in this series was phenomenal.



Less romance, more action

TEN THOUSAND SKIES ABOVE YOU takes a little different approach to the story than the previous novel. Instead of focusing on the romance, I'd rather call this one an action-like novel with a side of romance. The pace isn't necessarily picked up, but it feels like you're rushing through every mission with Marguerite. 

Mostly I got this feeling because to me the respective universes we travel through aren't explained or explored as much as I would have liked. The universes we visit are much more grounded in reality and I would have loved to visit a crazy universe like the Oceanverse from the first novel. However, each universe just feels like a quick rest stop instead of a complete world. There is so much potential in the wonderful worlds we get a glimpse of and it's really disappointing that Gray this time decided to swap world building for dialogue. 

Masterfully crafted and addicting

Aside from this, TEN THOUSAND SKIES ABOVE YOU was breathtaking. Gray paints such incredible characters that are so real it feels like you actually know them while you read it. Again, I was absolutely swept up in the romance and happy to return to the Russiaverse from the first novel, that absolutely broke my heart the first time. Gray isn't miserly with plot twists, throwing the reader from one intrigue to the next. It's impossible to see them all coming, and insanely impressive because most of these had to have been planned from the beginning. Hats off, the structure of the Firebird books is just impeccable.

TEN THOUSAND SKIES ABOVE YOU absolutely made me want to read the next book, ending on the biggest and most insane plot twist I've read about in a while. November can't come soon enough and I am absolutely, positively sure that I will recommend this incredibly addicting and mind-blowing series to a lot of my friends.


Rating:

★★★★

 




Overall: Do I Recommend?

Absolutely. If you like scientific concepts, conspiracy theories, and a romance that will break your heart, pick it up. TEN THOUSAND SKIES ABOVE YOU proves to be a worthy sequel to a stunning debut and surely sealed the deal on the Firebird series becoming one of my all-time favorites.



Additional Info

Published: November 3rd 2015
Pages: 424
Publisher: Harper Teen
Genre: YA / Sci-Fi / Parallel Worlds
ASIN: B00TE8LHXI

Synopsis:
"Ever since she used the Firebird, her parents' invention, to cross into alternate dimensions, Marguerite has caught the attention of enemies who will do anything to force her into helping them dominate the multiverse—even hurting the people she loves. She resists until her boyfriend, Paul, is attacked and his consciousness scattered across multiple dimensions. 

Marguerite has no choice but to search for each splinter of Paul’s soul. The hunt sends her racing through a war-torn San Francisco, the criminal underworld of New York City, and a glittering Paris where another Marguerite hides a shocking secret. Each world brings Marguerite one step closer to rescuing Paul. But with each trial she faces, she begins to question the destiny she thought they shared. "(Source: Goodreads)



Have you read the Firebird books?

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

[Review] A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird #1) - Claudia Gray: Dimensional Travel and Parallel Universes





In A THOUSAND PIECES OF YOU, Marguerite is determined to hunt down Paul Markov, the man that killed her physicist father and subsequently fled into a parallel universe.

What intrigued me: Time travel books are my krypronite. This is only dimensional travel, but well - close enough.

YES to parallel worlds

A THOUSAND PIECES OF YOU teases with a killer premise. Parallel worlds. Science. Physics. Sci-Fi. Action.
And the strange thing is, it actually delivers. The first page hooked me and I was absolutely invested in the story. The world building is impeccable, the parallel worlds Marguerite and side kick and other love interest Theo travel to are both fascinating and shockingly plausible. 

Yep, this one is one of the dreaded YA read with a love triangle - but hear me out: Gray actually manages to make this one quite endurable because Marguerite never really develops more than brotherly feelings for one of them. I'm not going to tell which one, it would spoil all the fun. The romance we get though, is breathtaking.

Emotional punch to the gut

It's a literal punch to the gut. I was so invested in the romantic storyline that would, and sometimes wouldn't happen, depending on which parallel universe they were in. Gosh. I suffered with Marguerite, I swooned with her, I cried with her.

Gray has this wonderfully easy to read, clean writing style, but whenever we have a romantic scene, she bang out sentences that just make you look up and reevaluate your life. Or start ugly crying. Seriously, if you want swoon and all the feels, this is your pick. For the love of god, I lost my heart in the Russian parallel world. If you've already recognized it, Saint Basil's Cathedral is pictured on the cover. A huge chunk of the novel is spent in Moscow in a wonderfully Romanov-era storyline that WILL murder your feelings. 

A THOUSAND PIECES OF YOU is really a spectacularly written, unpredictable book version of a box of chocolates. From high tech worlds, to regency worlds, to something inbetween, I promise you'll enjoy at least one of the fantastic worlds Claudia Gray has so incredibly carefully crafted. And hey, the time travel plot is also pretty neat. And the love interest.  Dear God, the love interest. Prepare to have your heart broken.

But one thing that I have to remark and that negates a lot of things I enjoyed about this book is that it features dubious consent/rape. And that is not addressed until book three. A character in this has sex with another character that is unable to consent. And this is not okay. And this is not okay if not addressed properly. I loved this book and consider this to be one of my favorites, but I must knock stars off this rating for this horrifying thing.


Rating:

★★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

A THOUSAND PIECES OF YOU is the parallel world novel that I've been waiting for. If you love a good romance with a side of fast-paced action, pick this gem up.

Trigger warning for dubious consent/rape.



Additional Info

Published: November 4th 2014
Pages: 360
Publisher: Harper Teen
Genre: YA / Sci-Fi / Parallel Worlds
ISBN: 9780062278968

Synopsis:
"Marguerite Caine's physicist parents are known for their groundbreaking achievements. Their most astonishing invention, called the Firebird, allows users to jump into multiple universes—and promises to revolutionize science forever. But then Marguerite's father is murdered, and the killer—her parent's handsome, enigmatic assistant Paul— escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite refuses to let the man who destroyed her family go free. So she races after Paul through different universes, always leaping into another version of herself. But she also meets alternate versions of the people she knows—including Paul, whose life entangles with hers in increasingly familiar ways. Before long she begins to question Paul's guilt—as well as her own heart. And soon she discovers the truth behind her father's death is far more sinister than she expected."(Source: Goodreads)

Do you know some good books about parallel worlds?

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