A Thousand Pieces of You

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray book reviewA Thousand Pieces of You
Claudia Gray

2 stars

Hey, Katie,

I’ve an aggravating, predictable YA sci-fi/romance to tell you about. Aren’t you excited.

A Thousand Pieces of You was selected as December’s Hype or Like read, and I’m voting “hype” on this one. It’s not awful, mind; it’s just not particularly well-written. Now, pull up a chair and settle in so I can describe its mediocrity to you at length.

(Just kidding, this’ll be a short review; another project has devoured almost all of my free time, and this review suffers for it. Sorry, guys.)

(But hey, said project will be dramatically unveiled on Monday, so get ready to get pumped.)

Book synopsis

A thousand lives. A thousand possibilities. One fate.

Marguerite Caine grew up surrounded by cutting-edge scientific theories, thanks to her brilliant physicist parents. Yet nothing is more astounding than her mother’s latest invention—a device called the Firebird, which allows people to leap into alternate dimensions.

When Marguerite’s father is murdered, all the evidence points to one person—Paul, her parents’ enigmatic star student. Before the law can touch him, Paul escapes into another dimension, having committed what seems like the perfect crime. But he didn’t count on Marguerite. She doesn’t know if she can kill a man, but she’s going to find out.

With the help of another physics student, Theo, Marguerite chases Paul through various dimensions. In each new world Marguerite leaps to, she meets another version of Paul that has her doubting his guilt and questioning her heart. Is she doomed to repeat the same betrayal?

As Marguerite races through these wildly different lives—a grand duchess in a Tsarist Russia, a club-hopping orphan in a futuristic London, a refugee from worldwide flooding on a station in the heart of the ocean—she is swept into an epic love affair as dangerous as it is irresistible. 

Spoiler free book review

Interdimensional travel that includes pit-stops in high-tech future London and super-fancy Tsarist Russia? HELL YES, I thought, possibly with an enthusiastic fist-pump.

And I tried to maintain that enthusiasm throughout the book, and even tried to convince myself afterward that I’d enjoyed the story overall.

But I can’t, Katie. I can’t lie.

Things This Book Did Right

  • That premise! The premise is stellar.
  • I’m a delicate flower when it comes to the deaths of loved ones, and this book portrayed Marguerite’s grief realistically enough to have me crying into my library copy (whoops).
  • Marguerite menstruates during her time in Russia, and it’s an embarrassing hassle that she describes at reasonable length. Three cheers for normalizing menstruation in YA!

Things This Book Did Not Get So Right

  • The science behind the Firebird devices established that [this certain thing] is impossible (because the plot requires it to be impossible), but in almost the next breath we’re told that oh, by the way, when people travel through dimensions [this same certain thing] happens—and the reader is expected to just ignore that the book is breaking its own logic. This smells like a plot hole; perhaps it’ll be explained later in the series, though?
  • An important event that happens prior to the first page was quite unrealistic, and makes me question the story’s logic even further. (Maybe this, too, will be explained satisfactorily later on?)
  • A certain character makes a significant decision before the book begins that (a) sets off the adventure, and (b) makes no sense even after their motivation is explained. This is a case of a character behaving in an uncharacteristically dumb way just to ensure the plot can happen, and I hate it.
  • The story unfurled exactly as I expected it to; nothing startled me or compelled me to keep reading. I actually set the book aside for several days to read another book, then had to force myself to pick this book back up again afterward.
  • There are several “mysteries” throughout the story, and the solutions were all shockingly obvious from the start.
  • Marguerite never paused to think long enough to realize that the conclusions she immediately jumps to aren’t the only possible solutions to those “mysteries.” I found this deeply aggravating.
  • Weirdly, considering how reluctant Marguerite is to pause to think, she doesn’t act much at all; she spends most of the book waiting for other people to act for her.
  • Theo and Paul were stereotypical Love Triangle Dudes, neither of whom I felt any interest in. One’s all dark-quiet-broody-obsessed, and the other’s relaxed-teasing-hopeful-interested, and there’s never a question of which one Marguerite will actually end up with.
  • Because the romance’s conclusion was clear from the start, all the minor love-triangle-angst throughout the story felt like a waste of time. And because Marguerite acts/achieves so little, the romance felt like the primary focus of the novel. A bland, time-wasting romance is not what I’d signed up for.
  • Of all the people Marguerite meets in the other dimensions, only one has a lasting emotional effect on her; everyone else is pretty much “out of sight, out of mind,” which severely hindered my own emotional engagement with the characters and the story.

Something This Book Did Very, Very Wrong

WARNING: TINY SPOILER
SPOILING THIS BECAUSE IT PISSES ME OFF

Oh my god, Marguerite, what are you doing having sex while wearing the Grand Duchess Marguerite’s body? She’s supposed to be the virginal bride of a foreign prince, yet you use her body to have unprotected sex. TWICE.

First of all, this is rape. You forced this other Marguerite to have sex when she was incapable of consenting. And then you justify it by saying Oh, I feel pretty confident she would’ve done it with him if she’d had the chance, just because you see some sketches this other Marguerite drew of the guy you had sex with, so you decide she’s in love with him. No. Fuck no. You can’t make that decision for her. This is rape.

Second of all, what happens if this other Marguerite ends up pregnant? At the very least, you just destroyed her life, and the impending alliance with that foreign country she was supposed to marry into. Who knows what other repercussions this could have on the family and country?

And yet the sex (ahem, rape) is portrayed as romantic and emotional and beautiful.

NO. Oh my god no.

Book review in closing

Honestly, just after finishing this book, my initial reaction was “It was predictable and aggravating, but an interesting concept and generally fine.” But now, over a week later, my reaction is “WHY DID I THINK THIS WAS FINE.”

Sigh,

Liam


54 thoughts on “A Thousand Pieces of You

  1. I thought the exact same thing when Marguerite was the Grand Duchess! She completely ruined that girl’s life and doesn’t think twice about it. That scene completely destroyed Marguerite’s character for me. This review basically sums up everything I felt about this book.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh man, I’m so glad someone else felt the same way! Her behavior and attitude are beyond horrifying.

      I really hope she has a reason to return to that dimension so we can get a follow-up on how that Marguerite is doing—but I’m guessing that never happens, since the sequels’ synopses sound like our lovely heroine only journeys to new dimensions, rather than back-tracking. Bah.

      Thank you for your comment; you’ve made me feel so much better about sitting through the whole book. ❤

      Like

      1. I won’t be continuing the series but I hope you review it if you decide to read the sequel. Yeah, I doubt they’ll go back to a time they were in.

        Oh, yay! 😀 You’re very welcome!

        Liked by 2 people

      1. That’s awesome! Isn’t it great when the books’ stories are as wonderful as their covers? (This series definitely has gorgeous covers.)

        I’ve seen a lot of glowing reviews for the rest of the series, but so far they’ve all been by people who also loved the first book–so I’m inclined not to continue the series, under the assumption that books two and three are similar to the first one. It’s just not my type of story, I think. Oh, well. Plenty of other books out there for me to fall in love with!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I know, right?! The covers are what drew me to this series in the first place! And yep, I totally agree with you, there are lots of other amazing books in the world! If you didn’t like the first book in a series, then there’s really no reason to bother continuing when there are probably way better books out there!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Fantastic review. I haven’t read this yet despite it being on my shelf for like three years, haha. I’ve heard lots of mixed reviews. It seems like people either love it or they don’t so I’m super interested to see what I’ll think. Not too keen on some of the negative things you’ve mentioned so I’ll definitely keep that in mind whilst reading!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I wasn’t a fan of this either for a lot of the reasons that you listed but one thing that really stood out to me was the rape. I didn’t even read it that way but now that you’ve mentioned I don’t know how I failed to see it! I really didn’t enjoy Marguerite’s character and now I just dislike her even more!
    I still want to read the rest of the series though to see if errors and plot holes are addressed.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, I’m glad I’m not the only one who just didn’t connect with Marguerite at all!

      The book really did a great job at covering up the fact of the rape; the focus was always on how Marguerite didn’t belong in the time period, as opposed to how she didn’t belong in the BODY. And too little time was spent establishing these other Marguerites as separate people whose thoughts and desires aren’t shared by “our” Marguerite.

      Please do finish the series! I’ll be keen to hear if/how they improve, and what is and isn’t addressed.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great review! I just went with the fun of the book and enjoyed it 🙂 I kind of agree with you about the action Marguerite took in Russia. I was really disappointed by that. I’ve since read the second book, and she does return to the Russia dimension briefly, and she does think quite a bit about what she did. She stole/forced all of those moments with Paul, and caused other issues by mourning so publicly for him. It brings up a lot of ethical questions in regards to the dimensional travel that I think the book tries to address briefly.
    And totally agree with you about that giant gaping plot hole of the ability of the Firebirds to travel to the different dimensions. That just seems to work because the book says so!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m glad you got caught up in the fun! That’s definitely the most enjoyable way to read.

      Oh, it’s fantastic to hear that she goes back to Russia, and her actions of the first book weren’t completely dismissed. Even if the ethical questions are only discussed briefly, it’s great to know they’re brought up at all.

      Yes! And the fact that the travelers’ bodies disappear when their traveling, but their bodies aren’t able to travel between dimensions. Where are their bodies going? (Does the second book address that at all? I’m dying of curiosity!)

      Will you be reading the third book soon? Here’s hoping you love it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah what happens to the travelers’ bodies is also brought up in the second book as well. The bodies are actually still there, but just invisible…so that also brings up the question of what happens when they return, and someone is sitting in that particular spot?
        The book also addresses whether or not the people they jump into can remember anything that happens while the travelers are in their body.
        I’m waiting for book three to be available from the library and then I will start it! Book Two ended on a big cliffhanger (of course it did). Book Two really felt just like a transition piece so I’m hoping book three is better.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s great! Wow, I’m both impressed and incredibly grateful that all these things are addressed later on.

        (Though yeah, the “they’re invisible” explanation does bring up a whole slew of new questions! I’m intrigued.)

        If you learn any more interesting things in the third book, definitely let me know! Hopefully it’s available to you soon. Keep me posted! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Every time I see this book in the bookstore I just can’t help but to flip through it because that cover is AMAZING. I haven’t been planning to read it, though, and judging from your list of pros (short) and of cons (long), I think that was the right decision.

    Your spoilery bits hit right on the mark – I would’ve been VERY uncomfortable with that and I’m really surprised I hadn’t heard of it before this review. D:

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Isn’t the cover glorious?

      I certainly won’t be persuading you to give the book a try!

      It’s genuinely appalling to me, how few people are labeling and discussing that particular scene for what it is. I’d have expected a real backlash against it. Bah.

      Like

      1. I’m surprised too! I would’ve expected it to be called out numerous times, but I really hadn’t heard of it before you mentioned it, and I know others who have quite recently read it. I suppose some people might perceive it differently…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I suppose so. Though I’ll just be over here, gaping in horror and fury at the thought of so many people unable to recognize rape when they read it. 😅

        You know, since so many people are expressing surprise at my interpretation of the sex scene, maybe I should get the book back from the library and write a whole post on it, with excerpts as evidence. I’m feeling inspired.

        Thanks for chatting it out a bit with me! I’m so angry that it’s not being widely discussed, and you’ve helped soothe my poor aghast heart. 😊

        Like

  6. Ooh I’m pumped about your secret project! The premise for this was really cool- but other than that I’m so so glad I didn’t read this when I had the chance (I downloaded a sample but wasn’t sold so abandoned it there and then) I actually really agree with you about the rape thing- I can’t stand it in body swap stories when they do things like this- IF IT’S NOT YOUR BODY YOU DON’T GET TO MAKE THESE DECISIONS!!! Gah! I don’t care if it’s fiction- just cos one character doesn’t care, doesn’t mean you get to take their life into your own hands! So not cool. Gosh- I’m getting riled up just from reading your description- I can see you’ve done me a huge favour by getting me to avoid this book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, I’m glad to hear it!

      I’m also glad you followed your instincts and didn’t continue with this book; your time and effort was surely better spent elsewhere.

      Oh no, is the sex-during-body-swap thing an actual thing that has happened in more than this one book? I mean, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but WHAT ARE THE WRITERS THINKING AAAH. I’m so sorry you’ve encountered this situation before, and I’m so, so happy to warn you away from it in this book.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this book Liam, I’m actually one of the people who really enjoyed it but I think there are a fair few mixed reviews out there for this one, I guess we can’t all like the same things.
    I never thought about that thing you mentioned with Marguerite and the Duchess but now you’ve mentioned it looking back it makes me really uncomfortable as well. You’re right it does have the potential to ruin her life and given she wasn’t in control of her own body, instead Marguerite was, it is pretty close to rape isn’t it?
    Still great review, I’m really looking forwards to seeing what your secret topic is on Monday! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is always a bummer to not enjoy something that so many other people love; I wish I could be gushing about it with you! I’m glad you loved it, though. 😊

      Yeah, I will 100% stand by my label of it as rape. The Duchess is, at that moment, as good as comatose or passed out drunk: completely incapacitated and unable to consent or object to what happens to her body. The fact that another person’s mind was making her body move doesn’t make the body less hers, and the sex any less not-consented-to.

      I can imagine being the Duchess, and reawakening in my body after Marguerite left, only to discover that (a) I have no memory of the last few weeks, and (b) there’s semen crusted between my legs. I would fucking PANIC. Even if Marguerite doesn’t see it as rape, I believe the Duchess would–and she, as the victim, is the one whose opinion should matter.

      Whoops, I got soap-boxy. 😅

      Thank you so much! I’m glad you enjoyed the review, even though I’m an awful person who couldn’t just enjoy the fun of the story for what it was. Shakes a fist at myself.

      Aw, yay! I hope you like it! 😄

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well it’s not like you haven’t enjoyed it for no reason, if that makes sense, there are valid reasons you didn’t enjoy this book and honestly after reading your review I kind of agree with you on a lot of them. Especially the whole rape thing with the Duchess. It’s definitely the right word for what happened and god that must have been horrible when she ‘woke up’ again in her own body and realised something like that happened. I’d be horrified as well.
        It’s a good review, I don’t mind reading negative reviews for books I’ve really enjoyed as long as the criticism is constructive. I’ve never seen any on WordPress mind but sometimes you get reviews where if people haven’t liked a book they can attack the author, or even the people who liked it in their review and that just makes me uncomfortable. Yours are never like that and I enjoy reading your thoughts on them. In cases like this one it makes me see things to the story I didn’t notice the first time around.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Constructive criticism is definitely the most interesting and helpful to read.

        Wow, I’m very glad I haven’t encountered any aggressive, author-attacking reviews; they sound infuriating to read, and I can’t imagine how they make authors feel. I’m glad my reviews don’t give off that vibe! That’s the last thing I want.

        Hopefully reading my review won’t make you enjoy the book any less if/when you reread it! That’s another thing I don’t want. 😅

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yep, it definitely is.
        I haven’t seen anything like that on WordPress but I’ve seen little bits on Goodreads though it’s mainly the other way around; someone hasn’t liked a book and in the comments people have kind of attacked telling that person they’re wrong for having the opinions they do. I’m really glad WordPress isn’t like that.
        Don’t worry, yours definitely don’t give off that vibe! 😀
        Possibly not, asides from that one part there was more to this book I enjoyed. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Oof, that sounds awful. Hopefully you’ve never been the victim of those attacks, and never will be. People can be terrible sometimes.

        I’m glad to hear it! It’s always heartbreaking to not enjoy rereading a book you’d previously loved.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. No I haven’t ever, it used to be something I worried about when I posted negative reviews right when I was starting out blogging but I’ve never seen anything like that on WordPress so I’m not really worried about it now.
        Oh I know what you mean, there have been a few books I’ve reread that I haven’t enjoyed as much but overall the books I do reread are all time favourites of mine! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Look at you– saving me from myself by reading things on my TBR first. I will not lie to you, I was entranced by the pretty cover. LOOK AT IT, LIAM. I’m sorry this book disappointed you so much. May your next read be decent and not nearly as problematic (yes, I read the spoilery bits AGAIN. I regret nothing).

    P.S. Is the super secret Monday surprise what I think it is?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s me, savior of all who somehow manage to be as slow as I am to read the popular books. Salutes.

      Hm, my next read is The Abyss Surrounds Us, and I expect great things from it.

      Ha ha, no, it’s totally not what you think it is, what are you talking about, whatever could give you that idea, WHO TOLD YOU. WAS IT ME? Oh my god I’m awful at secrets, what have I done.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. AKA Me. This is me we’re talking about. I’m so slow that I’m considering letting my Goodreads challenge be 15 because I know myself.

        That’s on my list! So, obvs, I’m going to let you do all of the work and wait patiently for you to critique that one.

        YOU told me. You’re bad at this. It’s okay. Your secret is safe with me (and even though I know said secret I will still be behind like the major boss I am).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hey, fifteen is a noble and admirable goal. I support it.

        The review probably won’t go up until late Feb or early March, but I’ll give you an exclusive sneak peek at my mental/emotional state as soon as I’m done reading it.

        Well, at least try to act surprised tomorrow? Give me your most realistic gasp of delight or something, that’ll make me feel better. (Bossing it up, heck yes.)

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Such noble. Besides, I plan to final get into some Harry Potter… and I give myself at least two books before I deem everyone insane.

        I am 100% on board with this plan. [/insert awkward jazz hands here]

        I will. The minute the post goes up, I’ll be all, “[/loud gasp] LIAM, why I never would have suspected such a thing would ever grace my presence. I’m just as shocked as everyone else.”

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Holy shit Morgan you do the awkward jazz hands thing too? Are we the same person?

        I’m 100% excited about your venture into Harry Potter, and hearing your ultimate judgement. I’ve only read the first, uh, three and a quarter books, myself, but I really do want to finish the series. Eventually.

        Very realistic shock! I’ll for sure be pleased by it, thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I definitely do the thing. Same person canon: Accepted

        I not-so-low-key want to give you an awkward hug for not having read all of the Harry Potter books. Finally someone is not giving me that weird, uncomfortable “How dare you, muggle?!” reaction. Feels great.

        Perf. Then 1/4 of my reply is already done.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Ooh, what kind of awkward hugs do you give? I’m the “I will crush the life out of you but wait where do my arms go I’m too short for this maneuver to work hold on let me reconsider my approach” sort of hugger. It’s complicated.

        Ha! Those judgmental stares are so real. Our commitment to YA is eternally under scrutiny.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It was inevitable that I join the Hype or Like group, really. How could I avoid that awesomeness forever, right? 😀

      Heck yes for surprises! That’s such an essential part of enjoying a book for the first time for me; no matter how small, there should be something unexpected.

      Aaaah thank you, Donna! 😊

      Like

  9. I sort of skimmed your review from the “things this book did right” to the spoiler part and went from “this sounds okay” to WTF in a matter of seconds. How do things like that even get put in books? Having sex while wearing someone else’s body? That’s horrible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! That was exactly my experience of reading the book, honestly.

      How problematic scenes like this (cases of blatant rape, abuse, misogyny, racism, etc., etc.) survive the editing process is beyond me. “Horrible” is exactly the word to describe it.

      Like

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