A Thousand Pieces of You
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.)
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.
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.
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.”