The Hidden Rape in A Thousand Pieces of You

Rape in A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

I hope you guys are ready for me to talk at (quietly furious) length about the rape in Claudia Gray’s A Thousand Pieces of You, because it is happening, and it’s happening now.

I briefly mentioned the rape in my otherwise spoiler-free review of the book, and was surprised to learn afterward that the book-reviewing community hasn’t already discussed it to death. So, because this is an issue I feel very strongly about, I’m going to elaborate on what I said in my review, with excerpts and minimal swearing.

First, A Few Notes

  • I read this book, but only skimmed through its sequel, Ten Thousand Skies Above You. My library has a wait-list on the trilogy’s final book, A Million Worlds with You, so I wasn’t able to read it before writing this.
  • The ebooks I checked out are ePubs without standardized page numbers, so excerpts will be accompanied only by chapter numbers. Sorry, guys.
  • I’ll be giving minor spoilers for both this book and its sequel.

 Vital Interdimensional Travel Info

(Those familiar with the book can skip this section)

I won’t summarize the novel for you; just go read the synopsis on Goodreads. But I will give you some details about this interdimensional travel stuff.

This is a world that contains infinite parallel dimensions; there are, therefore, infinite versions of you living out their (similar or drastically different) lives in their own dimensions. Interdimensional travel is possible only with a brand-new piece of technology; our heroine Marguerite is one of the first people to travel to another dimension.

Interdimensional travelers can travel under three limitations:

  • First: only your consciousness travels, not your body. Your consciousness is zapped into a host body in the new dimension—a body which you then control completely, as if you were born into it.
  • Second: the only hosts you can enter/take over are other versions of yourself. If you want to enter a dimension in which that version of yourself was never born or is already dead, then you’re out of luck.
  • Third: your consciousness will only remain “awake” in your host body for a short time before naturally going dark/falling asleep, at which point the host’s consciousness will regain control of their body. The technology that allows for interdimensional travel (which is worn as a necklace) is scheduled to give the host body periodic electrical-ish shocks that will keep your consciousness awake and in control of the body. Otherwise, you would be trapped as a sleeping passenger on your host forever.

It’s vital to note that when a traveler’s consciousness enters their host body, the host’s consciousness loses all ability to control their body and communicate. Most hosts experience this as just blacking out and losing time: they’re walking to class on Monday morning, then suddenly they’re home playing video games Thursday night. They don’t realize that a version of themselves from another dimension took over their body for a few days.

Marguerite is a special kind of traveler, though, and it’s guessed (and, in the sequel, confirmed) that her hosts don’t completely black out; they’re at least foggily awake and aware while Marguerite controls their bodies. Talk about existentially terrifying, oh my god. Marguerite is also special in that her consciousness never falls asleep while she’s traveling; she’s always in complete control of her host’s body.

The significant point here is that the host’s consciousness is completely isolated and unable to communicate even with the traveler who has invaded their body.

Pre-Sex-Scene Story Info

(Those familiar with the book can skip this section)

At this point in the story, Marguerite and Sexy Physics Student Paul Markov have traveled to a dimension where they find themselves in the winter palace of 19th-century-ish Tsarist Russia. Here, Marguerite is controlling the body of Grand Duchess Marguerite, daughter of the Tsar; Paul enters the body of Lieutenant Paul Markov, the Duchess’s personal guard.

For the sake of clarity, I’ll call these four different characters Marguerite, the Duchess, Paul, and Lt. Markov.

So Marguerite is controlling the Duchess’s body, doing a surprisingly great job of hiding the fact that she’s a random teen from (roughly) our America unexpectedly trapped in a historical drama set in a country and time she doesn’t know the rules of.

Paul’s consciousness, on the other hand, almost immediately goes dark/falls asleep inside Lt. Markov. (This is bad because his interdimensional-travel device gets lost, and Marguerite’s gets broken—so there’s no way to give his host body the electrical shock that would wake Paul back up and let him eventually return to his own body and dimension.) Lt. Markov regains control of his body, thinking that he’d maybe just fell ill and blacked out for a few minutes.

Some weeks pass as Marguerite attempts to fix her interdimensional-travel device and find Paul’s. At the same time, she—who, FYI, has some secret feelings for Paul—falls in love with Lt. Markov. She also happens to find some portraits the Duchess drew of Lt. Markov hidden in her bedroom, so she assumes the Duchess loves him too.


Behold: The Sex Scene

I’m going to show you this scene in its entirety. It takes place toward the end of chapter fifteen, for those of you reading along.

Note: Lt. Markov does not yet know about the interdimensional travel stuff, including the fact that the Duchess is no longer inside of/controlling her own body.

I’m the one who breaks the last rule, the final taboo—the one who kisses him. But then he surrenders. He holds nothing back. We tangle together, kissing desperately, clutching at the few clothes we still wear, hardly able to breathe or think or do anything other than lose ourselves in each other.

When I tug at the hem of his shirt, he lifts it up to help me toss it away. Then I shrug the straps of my camisole away from my shoulders; I’ve never thought of my skinny body as beautiful, not until I’ve seen Paul’s eyes darken at the sight of me, not until he lowers himself over me to kiss me more passionately and hungrily than before.

“Marguerite,” Paul pants against my shoulder. “We must not—we must not—”

“We must.” I arch my body against his, an invitation no man could ever mistake. He kisses me again, our mouths open, and the way we move draws us even closer.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. Paul, yes, please—”

His mind is fighting it even as his body responds. “Forgive me. Forgive me.”

“There’s nothing to—oh. Oh.”

My fingers dig into his shoulders, and I bite my lower lip. Yet I move my body to meet his, to welcome him completely.

Paul buries his face in the curve of my neck. His entire body shakes with the effort to go slow. He gasps, “You’re—are you—”

I kiss his forehead. My hands trace the length of his back, the bend of his hips, reveling in the firmness of muscle and bone. Instead of answering him with words, I move against him. He groans, rakes his teeth along my throat and follows my lead.

“I love you,” he whispers. “I’ve always loved you.”

“I love you, too,” I say, and I mean it, even if I’m not sure whether I love one of him, or both of him, or all.

The scene ends there.

Now, to be clear, the Duchess was just raped.

Some Situations That Are 100% Definitely Rape

I need to make sure that we’re all on the same page, so let me present some different, tangentially-related scenarios that also count as rape.

Scenario One: The Coma Patient

A nurse working in a hospital has a boner for the pretty coma patient, so he asks a fellow nurse to help him have sex with the patient. His coworker agrees. The coworker strips the patient and arranges her body for him. While he’s having sex with the patient, the coworker continues to adjust the patient’s body as required.

THIS IS RAPE. The coma patient did not and could not consent to sex. The fact that someone else (the coworker) was moving the patient’s body around doesn’t make it any less rape.

Scenario Two: The Black-Out Drunk

Your best friend is in love with the most popular guy in your year. A classmate borrows your friend’s notes for a test, and sees that she’s drawn a few sketches of Popular Guy in the margins, maybe surrounded by some hearts.

Later, both your friend and the classmate are at a house party, where your friend gets super drunk. Classmate helps her find an empty bedroom to pass out in. Classmate then returns to the party, sees Popular Guy, and says, “Hey, go down that hall, second door on the left, there’s a girl in there who’s hot for you. She’s passed out right now, but I know she really wants to fuck you.” Popular Dude then has sex with your passed-out friend.

THIS IS RAPE. Your friend did not and could not consent to sex. The fact that she’s in love with this guy, and maybe has been dying to have sex with him for years, doesn’t make this any less rape.

Scenario Three: The Medicated Spouse

A man takes medication before bed, and sleeps the sleep of the dead. His husband gets horny, and rather than just rub one out, has sex with the unconscious man.

THIS IS RAPE. The man is unconscious and unable to consent to sex. Even if he would’ve eagerly consented had he been awake, the fact remains that he was not awake, and therefore could not and did not consent to sex. Saying, “Oh, but he would’ve consented if he could’ve” doesn’t make this any less rape.

Scenario Four: The Host Of An Interdimensional Traveler

Between one moment and the next, a young woman is kicked out of her body by an invading consciousness. She has no way to communicate, no way to regain control of her body, no way to warn her family or the man she loves that her body has been taken over by an unknown entity and she’s now a prisoner inside her own mind.

And she watches, silently, powerlessly, as the unknown invader uses her body to have sex with the man she loves—sex she didn’t and couldn’t consent to.

THIS IS RAPE. The fact that the Duchess could not consent to her body being used for sex makes this rape. No matter whether the Duchess loved Lt. Markov or not, no matter whether she would’ve wanted to have sex with him if she were in control of her body, this is rape.

The Aftermath, Where Things Do Not Improve

The next scene begins with Marguerite lying in Lt. Markov’s arms, thinking over what just happened:

The enormity of what I’ve done is obvious, but I can’t regret it. Realizing how the Grand Duchess Marguerite felt about her Paul, I suspect she would have wanted this just as much—made the same choice—but there’s no getting past the fact that I made the decision for her. The night she spent with the man she loves belongs to me instead; it’s a theft I could never repay.

However, the enormity of what she’s done isn’t obvious to her.

  • She acknowledges she made the decision for the Duchess, and that there is a repercussion to that decision—but in her mind, the “repercussion” is just her guilt that she took away the Duchess’s first sexual encounter with the man she loves.
  • Later, when Lt. Markov points out that they hadn’t used contraceptives and the Duchess might end up pregnant (ch. 16), Marguerite is surprised; she’d forgotten pregnancy was a concern.
  • And pregnancy is a HUGE concern, because the Duchess is supposed to be the virginal bride of the Prince of Wales. If the Duchess gets pregnant, there will be major, life-altering, family-damaging, politically significant repercussions. Repercussions which Marguerite promptly decides are not worth thinking about.

Also, please note her immediate declaration that despite the enormity of her decision, she doesn’t regret it. Just in case her lack of guilt wasn’t clear enough, Lt. Markov asks her a short while later if she regrets having sex. Her reply:

“No. I never will. I never could.”

I’m fuming.

Chapter sixteen opens with Marguerite confessing to Lt. Markov about the whole by the way, I’m actually not the Duchess, I’m an interdimensional traveler using her body, and FYI you have a traveler asleep inside your body right now too thing, and he takes the news remarkably well. They discuss Marguerite’s situation, and eventually we come to this:

Is it wrong of me to want [sex with Lt. Markov], given how incredibly complicated this situation is? I don’t know. I can’t know. The one truth I can hold onto is that we need each other, and that tonight will never come again. So I lift his hand to my lips and kiss each knuckle, the soft pad of each finger, the center of his palm.

Quietly Paul says, “Would she have chosen this? The grand duchess. I would never—if she would not have wanted to be with me, then I—“

“I looked at the drawings she made of you. They told the whole story.” At first I feel guilty about admitting this, giving away the other Marguerite’s secrets. But I know the truth Paul needs to understand too. “She loves you. She dreams about you. If she’d been here, I think she would have made the exact same choice.”

And then they have sex again.

First: No, Marguerite, it isn’t wrong of you to want the sex; it’s wrong of you to have the sex.

Second: A couple of sketches cannot and do not tell “the whole story” of the Duchess’s emotions and desires.

Third: You feel guilty about telling Lt. Markov that the Duchess is in love with him, but not about making the Duchess have sex with him? When she couldn’t consent?

Fourth: You’ve never even met the woman; how could you possibly say you think she’d have made the same choice? She isn’t actually you.

Fifth: I greatly appreciate you pointing out that the Duchess wasn’t there, and couldn’t make the choice that you did. You just highlighted, underlined, and aimed flashing neon arrows at the fact that this is rape.

I will note that, in the very last chapter (chapter twenty-seven), Marguerite speaks with another character, Theo, about how he responded to having his own body taken over by an interdimensional traveler. Their conversation is infuriatingly short, but during it, Marguerite thinks:

Inside I find myself thinking of every other Marguerite I inhabited. At the time, I felt as though I was making responsible choices—or that if I made mistakes, they were the mistakes those Marguerites would have made in my place. But now that I see Theo’s profound sense of violation, I wonder if that’s how they feel, too.

And the conversation immediately moves on so Theo can explain some Previously Secret Plot Details.

All Marguerite does here is “think” about the other Marguerites for three sentences; she “wonder[s]” for one sentence if they feel violated. She doesn’t feel anything. There’s no guilt, shame, horror; certainly no realization that she orchestrated a woman’s rape. She doesn’t feel anything.

Yes, I am pleased to see that, in the sequel, Marguerite is confronted with the repercussions of her decision. However. I need to point out that even when she’s at her most guilt-wracked, her guilt is focused on the fact that (a) she stole the Duchess’s opportunity to confess and consummate her love with Lt. Markov, and (b) the Duchess got pregnant, and therefore can no longer make the choices in her life that she might’ve wanted. Marguerite is still unaware that her actions were rape.

Perhaps she starts to see the truth of what she’s done in the trilogy’s final book (edited to add: I’ve since learned that no, she doesn’t)—but, honestly, that’s two books too late for me.

How The Book Sneakily Masks The Rape

This book utilizes a few tactics to mask the fact that this is rape, so it’s not surprising readers didn’t notice what was happening.

The Interchangeable Marguerite Bodies

Marguerite enters the bodies of four other Marguerites, and not one of them is in any way physically different from her own. They’re all the same weight and muscle tone; they have the same length of hair (even in dimensions where long, curly hair is exceedingly impractical); there’s no mention of anyone having scars, tattoos, callouses, etc., that would serve as small reminders that the body our heroine is in isn’t actually her own. That they’re so perfectly identical isn’t just implausible, it’s impossible.

By not providing any differences in the bodies, the book is cleverly urging readers to forget that each new body isn’t actually our Marguerite’s.

This manipulation is most blatant when, during the sex scene, Marguerite notes, “I’ve never thought of my skinny body as beautiful, not until I’ve seen Paul’s eyes darken at the sight of me” (ch. 15). That’s not actually her body he’s looking at, but the book is constantly tricking readers into forgetting that.

The Interchangeable Marguerites

Readers are sometimes reminded that (for example) all of the different Pauls are not the same person; genetically they are the same, and certain traits seem inherently the same, but they’re all unique individuals. Yet the book does its damndest to avoid reminding readers that Marguerite isn’t identical to the Marguerites whose bodies she takes over.

It does this in two ways:

  • Marguerite rarely considers how different those other Marguerites might be from herself. She assumes they’re pretty much just like her (with the exception of their different art styles, and one Marguerite’s experimentation with drugs and alcohol), and acts accordingly.
  • Nobody in any of the other dimensions notices that their Marguerite is suddenly acting differently. Realistically, our Marguerite would have very different speech patterns, body language, mannerisms, tastes, knowledge, and demeanor (and on, and on) from the other Marguerites—yet our heroine just as easily passes for a futuristic club-hopping drug user as the 19th-century well-bred daughter of the Tsar, with no effort at all.

The reader is encouraged to assume that all Marguerites are ultimately identical—and, therefore, that Marguerite is correct when she says that the Duchess would’ve made the same choice Marguerite did.

But it’s impossible for these separate individuals, who were raised within vastly different societies, roles, and circumstances, to be identical. It’s therefore equally impossible for Marguerite to know what the Duchess would have chosen. (In fact, judging from what we know about the Duchess through Lt. Markov, I’d bet my savings on the Duchess not having sex with him.)

(Important note: even if Marguerite can somehow divine that the Duchess would’ve said yes if she were in charge of her own body, the Duchess is currently not in charge of her own body. This is not the situation the Duchess would have said “yes” in. Literally the only way for this to not be rape is if Marguerite can communicate with the Duchess, and asks the Duchess if sex is okay, and the Duchess tells her “yeah sure go ahead.” This is the only way.)

Marguerite Doesn’t Think About It

Throughout the story, whenever Marguerite reflects on her decision and its consequences, she (a) states that she refuses to feel guilt, (b) justifies her action by saying she’s sure the Duchess would’ve made the same choice, and/or (c) drops the subject after just a couple sentences.

In this way, the reader is encouraged to agree that she really has nothing to feel guilty about, and prevented from thinking too much about it.

The Awful Message This Offers Readers

This is a scene in which a woman’s body is being used for sex without her consent, and the book is presenting it as romantic and hot.

“Try not to think about this as rape!” the book is saying, while the Duchess is being raped. “Just focus on how heartbreaking and beautiful the romance is!”

To which I reply, “Fuck you.”

This Wouldn’t Have Been Hard To Fix

I’m just going to offer two possible solutions to this situation.

Solution One: Don’t Have A Sex Scene

Just a reminder: I’ve only skimmed the second book, and have only read reviews of the third book. I can’t state this with any authority, but as far as I’m aware, the rape is not integral to the plot. It results in the Duchess’s pregnancy, but—again, as far as I’ve been able to find—the pregnancy doesn’t affect the plot in a significant way. (If I’m wrong, please correct me!) (Edited to add: I’ve since been informed that no, the rape and pregnancy are not integral to the plot. Nothing would have been significantly changed if this scene had been removed.)

From what I understand, the only purposes this scene serves are to (a) ensure Marguerite is extra traumatized when Lt. Markov dies about 36 hours later, and (b) give Marguerite something to feel moderately guilty about later on, presumably to advance her character arc as she realizes exactly how unethical and damaging this whole interdimensional travel thing is.

But both of those goals could have been achieved without raping a woman who has literally no voice or agency in the book.

Violence against women for the sake of a male character’s motivations or arc is a longstanding and fucking awful trope. It reduces women to disposable objects whose only narrative significance is their ability to suffer so the men around them can grow and move forward in their lives/the plot.

Violence against a woman for the sake of a female character’s motivations or arc is just as unacceptable. Guys, a woman was raped, and her rape serves no purpose that couldn’t have been achieved through other means.

Solution Two: Make The Book Treat It As Rape

If the rape truly is integral to the trilogy’s overarching plot—if the entire trilogy would fall apart without the rape, and no other (non-rape) event could functionally replace it—then I at least need the rape acknowledged and treated as such by the book. (Edited to add: again, I’ve since been informed that the rape is not integral to the plot of the completed trilogy, and could have been removed entirely.)

I’d try to achieve this by:

  • showing that all Marguerites have distinct and individual bodies,
  • using those small physical differences to remind both the reader and Marguerite that she’s not in her own body,
  • having our Marguerite struggle more to adapt to each new universe and that Marguerite’s role in it,
  • having the other Marguerites’ families notice that something is wrong with “their” Marguerite when our Marguerite is controlling her body,
  • make our Marguerite less certain (either throughout the book or, at the very least, very explicitly at the very end—but preferably starting just before or just after the rape) about her assumption that the Duchess would’ve made the same choice, and
  • possibly fading to black before the sex actually happens.

Why fade to black? Because the sex is told from our Marguerite’s first-person perspective, and she’s experiencing it as a beautiful, emotional event that’s 100% not rape; through her, the reader is being encouraged to view it in the same way. Personally, I’m sickened and appalled by rape being presented as romantic, and want to minimize the possibility that readers will view it as anything but what it is: a gross act of violence against the Duchess.

Another point I’d like to add to the above list:

  • have Marguerite acknowledge, by both thinking about it and feeling a strong, negative emotional response, that she has done something terribly wrong.

I previously quoted a scene at the end of the book, in which Marguerite and another character briefly discuss how he felt when he was unwittingly playing host to an interdimensional traveler. I’ll just quote Marguerite again for you:

Inside I find myself thinking of every other Marguerite I inhabited. At the time, I felt as though I was making responsible choices—or that if I made mistakes, they were the mistakes those Marguerites would have made in my place. But now that I see Theo’s profound sense of violation, I wonder if that’s how they feel, too.

I’ll again point out the complete absence of emotion in that paragraph, and the fact that the conversation immediately plowed ahead to other topics.

You know what I wanted? For Marguerite to continue along this line of thought for another paragraph or five; to feel a slowly spreading chill and perhaps a hint of nausea as she thinks about having sex with Lt. Markov; to realize that she didn’t (and couldn’t) actually know if the Duchess would’ve wanted the sex.

I’m not demanding that Marguerite admit—even to herself—that the rape was in fact rape; that could have waited until the second book. But here, in the book where the rape actually occurs, I at least want to see her start thinking very explicitly in that direction, and having a strong emotional reaction.

Honestly, I think it could’ve been interesting if she intentionally stopped herself from thinking the word “rape”; if she was so horrified by the slow-dawning implications of what she had done that she couldn’t bear to let herself think about the subject anymore. I would’ve been satisfied to see her struggle to swallow down her nausea and focus on what her companion is telling her, and then having her face (and explicitly acknowledge) the horrible truth of her actions in the second book.

Basically, I wanted her to acknowledge, through the simple act of thinking about what she did and feeling awful about it, that she has done something unforgivable.

In Closing

Yes, the Duchess was raped.

No, it is not all right for the rape to be presented as hot and romantic.

No, it is not acceptable that the rape is never acknowledged as such within the novel.

No, I am not done fuming over it.

Hugs all around,


EDITED TO ADD: I know that a lot of readers have given this book a decent or high rating without noticing the rape. If you’ve done this, I strongly encourage you to read The Bookavid’s amazing tips on how to enjoy and rate a book that’s problematic. A key quote from her on the subject:

If you choose to publically support – yes, leaving a 3+ star review counts as support, you are morally obliged to say something. To add a note about the problematic elements.

If you do not, there is no difference between you and someone who supports unaware of the problematic elements or in favor of them.

I’m certainly in no position to tell anyone how to rate and review the books they read, but I really wish that (a) I’d seen a reviewer mention the rape before I read the book, so I could choose NOT to read it, and (b) we as readers would use our ratings and reviews to send a message, however belated, that the rape in this book was unacceptable.

94 thoughts on “The Hidden Rape in A Thousand Pieces of You

  1. I’ve not read this book but OH MY GOD. I shouldn’t be shocked at the lack of thought that went into this, especially in YA, but I am. The fact that no one in the process of publishing this book flagged this up as an issue makes me very very angry.

    Your analysis was wonderful, thank you. I am definitely not going to be reading this.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “OH MY GOD” was exactly my face as I read the book and wrote this post.

      Like you, I expect better of YA authors, editors, and publishers. Reading this scene was a shock, to say the least.

      Readers deserve so much better than the unquestioned, unexamined misogyny, abuse, racism (and so on) seen in so many YA books. And we definitely don’t deserve to be manipulated into believing that a rape is not actually rape, or that rape can be romantic, or that a rape victim’s violation is less important than someone else’s growth as a person.

      Thank you so much! Honestly, I wish someone had warned me before I’d picked the book up; I wouldn’t have read the book if I’d known about the rape, either. I’m glad I can do that for you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, this was a very detailed explanation and I completely agree with your point. I have seen a couple of people speak up against the sex scene but you’re the first person who has blatantly called it rape and I applaud you for it. I have to admit, I hadn’t thought about it that way until I read this post and what little respect I had for this book is gone. I also love the examples you gave with rape in other scenarios, it really puts the book in perspective. Thanks for writing this post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, I can’t tell you how relieved I am to hear that other people are speaking out against this scene. I’d looked (desperately) for others who were disturbed by it, and couldn’t find any. It’s good to know I’m just adding my voice to what other people are already saying (even if they aren’t calling it rape, which obviously I think they should be).

      Thank you so much for reading this monstrosity of a post! It means a lot to me, and still would’ve meant a lot if you wound up disagreeing with me. But the fact that I gave you a new (though unpleasant) perspective on the scene really makes the time I spent writing this post worthwhile.

      (And whew, I’m glad the other examples of rape were helpful. I wasn’t sure if I should leave them in or not; I’m glad I did!)

      Thanks for the comment, Shouni; I feel so much better all around because of it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I can’t believe this book took blatant and tried to play it up as romantic. If it’s not integral to any plot why even do the thing at all?! >__> Also, I can’t believe no one else has brought this up. I’ve seen a few reviews for this book, but they were predominantly rave reviews that made me think I was truly missing out by not even giving this book a second glance before. Ugh. But awesome post, Liam, as per usual. Seriously, you’re doing the good work because now I definitely won’t be touching this book with a 39 and a half foot pole.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. First, I adore you and your Grinch reference. I definitely had to backtrack so I could that line instead of just read it. (You play me like a fiddle.)

      I’m honestly hoping that someone who’s read the third book will come in and correct me, saying (and explaining in detail) that the rape was in fact central to the plot. But even if the rape is absolutely necessary, that doesn’t excuse the romantic light it’s shown in.

      I’m glad (as always) to be of service! (And thank you for the sweet words! 😊)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Liam, you are my favorite human just in case you had any doubts.

        Fingers crossed that someone bursts through the walls of the internet to let you know that it was necessary and that the third book actually calls it rape and talks about how unromantic the moment was because IT. WAS. LITERALLY. RAPE. STOP. ROMANTICIZING. RAPE. Seriously.. fingers crossed.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. YES. And books are such a great way to teach young people about healthy relationships and sexuality; it’s horrifying to be confronted with so many books that promote unhealthy, abusive, violent actions. This isn’t the example that anyone should be learning from.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for writing this. I’m actually a bit ashamed that I didn’t call that scene what it was. I was uncomfortable with it but I couldn’t pinpoint why and to be honest, I was much more interested in the rest of the plot and the romance to really sit on that thought and explore it. I don’t know what to do now… Because I still enjoyed reading the books, the third one specially though I can tell you that the word rape doesn’t come up. I just… Don’t know what to do with those reviews…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You have absolutely no reason to be ashamed! The book really did everything in its power to hide the face that this is rape, and it did a damn good job. And it helps that you were swept away by the plot and romance; it can be hard (impossible?) to focus on being critical when you’re completely absorbed in a story.

      I wish I could give you some helpful advice about what to do with your reviews. I think if I found out that a favorite book of mine was super problematic, I’d go back and add, like, “NOTE FROM THE FUTURE” section at the bottom of the review, addressing what I’d since learned, and how that affects my relationship with the book. I’m not sure how my rating of the book would be affected, though.

      It seems like some other bloggers (maybe Book Avid?) have written discussions on how to respond to situations like this; I seem to remember something like that, anyway. I’ll have to spend some time tonight trying to hunt such a discussion down. If I find anything, I can let you know. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I just feel like a shitty person, a bad reviewer and a really bad blogger. I’m like a few seconds away from deleting my blog and calling it a day. I don’t know how to trust my opinions on books anymore or how to write a review. I’ve been crying for the better part of half an hour and I’m sure that’s how my night will continue. I’m glad there are people like you out there to point these things out, I don’t know what I’m doing around these parts honestly…


      2. Oh no, please don’t do that. You’re an amazing person and a fantastic blogger, with great insights into the books you read, and an incredibly important voice. We need you in this community; you contribute so much, and we can’t lose you.

        I can understand what you’re feeling, though; I’m a white person who totally misses the awful, underlying racism in some books, and I feel so deeply ashamed and awful about it when it happens. The only thing I can do is try to learn from other people, and be more aware in the future. And I know I’m going to fuck up, and that I’m going to continue to learn, and continue to become more aware.

        I don’t know if that helps you at all, but we are all learning; we all have blind spots; we’re all becoming more aware of stuff all the time. And that’s a good thing (no matter how awful we feel in the process). Learning more doesn’t mean we were bad people before.

        I want to give you all the hugs, Sara. I’m so sorry for making you feel so terrible; that’s absolutely the last thing I wanted. You’re wonderful, and valuable, and your blog is amazing. Please try to have faith in yourself; I have absolute faith in you. ❤

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me. I’m in a really emotional and depressive mode at the moment. It’s a bad day haha I also have a tendency to learn towards exaggerations when on a low day and I’m sorry I’m dumping it all on you.
        Mentally, I know you’re right. Thank you for saying such kind things. I know I’m only human which means making mistakes and doing my best to learn from them. It’s just really hard at the moment to not beat myself up about it. I wish that I was more aware of things, this is the third instance in a week where someone has pointed out something in a book I enjoyed that I didn’t see and it’s kind of piled up emotionally.
        You are definitely not the one who has made me feel terribly, you are amazing and have done a great thing by writing this post. Your intentions are important and genuine, I’m just a little Cancer who takes stuff to heart 99% of the time haha I’m very hard on myself and that’s all spilled out on your comments, I’m so sorry!
        Right now, I’m hyper aware but tomorrow, I will hopefully chill out a bit and be more conscious of what I want to do. This is a super long comment, I’m so sorry! Thank you for being so kind and I am so glad that I’ve managed to get to know you. I really appreciate all your support and I hope someday I have faith in myself like you have in me


      4. You really have nothing to apologize for; you feel what you feel, and express your emotions in the way that feels best, and there’s no reason to apologize for either of those things. I definitely understand how just one more upsetting thing on a terrible, depressive day can unleash the floodgates. ❤

        And I can definitely see how three instances of that happening in a single week could be a blow to your self-esteem as a book reviewer. It’d shake me, too. But I really think it’s just bad luck that it all happened at once, and not a sign that you’re incompetent, or that you shouldn’t be blogging. I’m more than happy to remind you of how valuable and helpful your insights are, and your perspective, and your contributions to the book community overall.

        If there’s anything I can do or say to soothe your poor Cancer heart, please let me know. You have my full support! And that includes you leaving long, unhappy comments in my blog or on Twitter. I’m the type who feels better after expressing myself to someone; if you’re the same way, I’m more than happy to listen.

        I hope you do feel better tomorrow–and rest assured, I have enough faith in you for both of us, until you can catch back up. And I’m 100% certain that all your devoted followers and friends do, too.

        (I’d “like” your comments, by the way, but I feel really awkward liking comments in which someone is genuinely unhappy. Just FYI. In case you noticed, and thought it was weird. [Sweat drop.])

        Liked by 1 person

      5. You are already helping soothe my little Cancer heart so thank you ❤ I wish I had friends like you in real life because I’m honestly starting to feel better, when most of the time getting out of these funks takes hours or days. I’ve been so blessed to have met you and so many other kind online people that make this blogging thing worthwhile. I definitely feel much better after expressing all these yucky feelings of self doubt and I hope you don’t take back your offer of long comments because I most definitely will use it haha. I just really hope that I can do better and be better at this. You’re one of the few people who know that I want to work in publishing and how important it is to me to be good at this blogging and reviewing thing. I hope that I can better separate critiques from emotions (my reviews are set up that way too haha) in the future and that my eyes will be open wider to problems in books. I also want to try and stop feeling guilty for liking things that have issues, there’s so such thing as books with no issues or people with no problems so I hope that I can stop being so hard on myself. Thank you so so so much, from the bottom of my Latinx/white heart haha I am so blessed and thankful and grateful for you and your kindness ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Aw, yay. I’m so glad to hear it. ❤

        And I’m glad to hear you have supportive friends online (though I agree that having them in person would be awesome, too; here’s hoping you and I both find some great nearby friends soon).

        Ha, my offer to read and respond to your long comments will always be open to you! (Honestly, I tend toward being depressed and isolated myself; trying to cheer up other people goes a long way to help my own emotional health. So you’re doing me a huge favor by talking with me; thank you for that.)

        Trust me, you will definitely continue to improve, and be more aware of the stuff you read. You’re already such a sharp reviewer, and you (a) know and (b) care about the importance of issues like representation and the normalization of misogyny and abuse (etc) in YA. Seriously, you’re an incredible reviewer.

        I can also reassure you that employers aren’t going to expect you to be 100% perfect (that’s humanly impossible, anyway), and once you strike out on your own, you won’t need to be 100% perfect to be successful (and, just a reminder, that’s humanly impossible, anyway). We’re all of us still learning and become more aware; that’s the human condition. The fact that you know that, and care, is the most important thing.

        Can I join your “trying not to feel bad about liking books with problematic aspects” club? Because I could use some lessons in that, too. You’re totally right, that no book is perfect, but sometimes it can feel awful to love a book that’s problematic.

        I’m giving you all the hugs. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      7. I’m giving you all the hugs too!
        I’m the downer at the moment but I hope you know that I’m here to chat whenever you need as well. I’m a pretty A+ friend when I’m on the top of my game haha.
        Thank you for that! I love writing reviews, they are the reason I started my blog in the first place and it’s what I most share though they don’t get as many views. I hope to continue to improve on them as my blogging years pile up haha
        Hopefully when I finally get near working in my dream job, I’ll have more confidence in myself and what I do.
        This has been a really tough day but it’s ending on a great note. Thank you for being so freaking awesome!
        Any club I’m a part of you can join! I’ll be sure to help you out if you need it as I know you’ll do for me ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Aw, you’re seriously the sweetest. Thank you, Sara ❤

        I’m looking forward to watching you progress from amazing reviews to INHUMANLY AMAZING REVIEWS, and then demanding to know what your secret is, and whether or not you can teach other bloggers how to do what you do. It’s inevitable.

        I’m glad your tough day is just about over. Here’s hoping you have an amazing sleep, and a significantly better day tomorrow!

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Hey, Sara! Don’t be ashamed of your opinions! You’re not a bad blogger because you liked the book. Please don’t think that… You have nothing to be ashamed of! You’re an amazing blogger and I love reading your reviews, so please don’t stop!!

        Liked by 2 people

      10. I totally understand and so glad you are feeling better! Happy to hear you’ll be staying with us 😉 And your very welcome!! ❤😘

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Hi Sara!

      This is where I break the unspoken rule of “don’t respond to other people’s blog comments”, so sorry if I’m out of line. I just don’t want you to feel bad because your reviews are absolutely AMAZING. You bring so many new insights to each one of them, and I don’t think missing this (when it was so cleverly masked my the author, especially) ruins any of the great work you’ve already done. We as readers and reviewers are all on a bit of a learning curve. It’s easy to miss something when you’re reading. No one is perfect, and I definitely don’t think loving this book so much initially makes you a shitty person, bad reviewer, or a bad blogger. In fact, your remorse and the fact that you even want to change your review to acknowledge this new awareness makes you an amazing person, a great reviewer, and an even more awesome blogger.

      Aentee from Read at Midnight actually has this discussion here where she talks about later discovering some of her fave books were problematic (while still loving them):

      As for what you can do with your reviews (if you want to do anything), you could add a little disclaimer toward the top indicating that this is a sad reality of the book. I’ve noticed that quite a few book bloggers do that both on their blogs and on their Goodreads reviews.

      I hope you feel better and you choose to keep your blog up and running. I’d really hate for all of us to miss out on your wonderful voice in this community. Tbh, the book world could use a lot more people like you!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hi Morgan!
        You’re not out of line at all! Your comment actually made me cry a bit (which don’t worry, it’s not a bad thing for me and it’s been happening pretty much all day haha). Thank you so much for your kind words about my blogging work? and for helping me feel a bit better about myself on such a hard day. I’m definitely working toward not being so hard on myself and acknowledging that learning is a part of life whether I like it or not (I’m a huge perfectionist haha).
        Thank you for sharing Aentee’s post! I’ve just read it and she definitely have some amazing points that I can apply to this issue in particular. I still enjoyed the books when I read it and while I feel bad that I didn’t catch this in the beginning, I’m definitely adding a disclaimer in my review so people are aware and can decide for themselves if they want to read the books or not.
        Thanks again for being so kind to me and for your lovely words. I think I’ll stick around for awhile longer, both of you make convincing arguments haha

        Liked by 1 person

    3. I, well I’m a bit at a loss for words here. Thank you, Liam, for this post. I think Sara (Freadom Library), a bit above on this post, perfectly summed up my feelings. I enjoyed the first and second book, and I felt the exact same way as she did, uncomfortable while reading, but not calling it out like you are just right now, and it’s really making me re-think this whole book.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Honestly, I’m relieved to hear that so many readers were uncomfortable with that scene, even if was only a tiny bit, and even if they didn’t know or think about why. The fact that readers did sense something was not quite right is a great thing.

        Now hopefully I can just shout about this loud enough for more people to be able to put a name to their discomfort, and for others to realize they should have felt discomfort at all.

        Thank you for commenting, Marie; it means a lot to know this helped you gain a new perspective on the books (even if it’s not a happy perspective).

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Are you okay with me featuring this post on my own blog, and writing a lengthy response there? (1) Because I actually have to go to work in about 15 minutes, but most importantly (2) I have a LOT to say (spoiler alert, I SECOND ALL OF THIS WHOLEHEARTEDLY) and if there is anyone who follows me but does not follow you (a grievous oversight, I know) I’d like them to see this and get hip to the facts.

    Either way, thank you for saying something, and for giving me a link to cite when people continue to ask me, “Why haven’t you picked up A Million Worlds With You yet? I know you didn’t like the second book in the series, but why not just finish the series?” Well, Daphne, it’s because Marguerite makes me feel extremely uncomfortable and I hadn’t found a way to put it into words until now. Call off the Scooby Gang because we’ve found an incredibly well written answer to this mystery.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Have at it!

      Oh, man I can’t wait to read your addition. Will you be talking about what happens in Ten Thousand Skies Above You? Because I have SERIOUS ANGRY THOUGHTS on Marguerite’s thoughts and actions regarding the Duchess in TTSAY, and I need to wail with someone about them. (I would’ve wailed in this post, except I wanted to keep the focus on A Thousand Pieces of You. Also, this post was already over 4,000 words long, and I wanted people to actually read the damn thing.)

      Ha, I’m glad this post will be useful! If you have any other mysteries I can write too many words about, feel free to let me know. Complaining at length is my specialty.

      (Keep me up to date on the progress of your reply post. I need it. I need it hard.)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I think I said it before but I actually really enjoyed this series, however that’s not to say I don’t agree with this post. I really do and now looking back on this book and this scene I feel really uncomfortable that the rape scene was included and non of the publishers or editors or the author felt maybe it was going too far to include this in a YA book that maybe more impressionable teens would be reading. I think I still enjoy the series overall but this scene doesn’t add anything to the story and could have been taken out without really having any ramifications to the overall plot arc you know?
    This is a great post Liam, and I think you wrote about this topic and the way it was included in this book really well too. Also one quick question the scenarios you posted at the beginning, they’re not ones you read about in books are they (other than the last one directed at Marguerite) if they are let me know so I can avoid those books like the plague!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely believe there’s nothing wrong with loving a book, despite its problematic aspects. Honestly, I hope that I didn’t diminish your love for the series. Being aware of the problematic aspects is great, and speaking out against it happening in future books is vital, but falling out of love with a treasured series genuinely sucks.

      Ah, I’m disappointed to hear that this scene doesn’t turn out to be plot-significant in the third book. I was holding out hope.

      Aw, thank you so much! It’s a relief to hear I presented my thoughts coherently; I spent a few days working on this post, hoping not to make a mess of it. 😅

      Ha, thank god, no, those other scenarios aren’t things I’ve read in books–at least, not that I can remember. But rest assured, if I come across something like this again in a book you haven’t read yet, I’d be happy to give you a heads-up. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s good to hear, and no overall I still like this book but that obviously doesn’t mean there aren’t still problems with it you know? I haven’t read the third book yet so I dunno, it could unless someone who has read A Million Worlds With You has let you know it doesn’t.
        That’s all right, I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on this topic, you made a lot of good points about what happens in this book.
        Well that’s good to hear I guess, and yeah if you do let me know and I’ll be sure to give you a warning if I spot anything like this as well. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Don’t worry, I’ve since heard from a few who have read the third book, and no, the rape scene wasn’t necessary for the plot. I’m officially an extra degree of upset, hurrah.

        Thank you! I’d definitely appreciate it. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Well Liam, this might be the most well constructed analysis of yours to date even if I was tripping out re: not having read this book before. But you done good to bring me up to speed.

    I can’t say I have much else to comment on that you haven’t touched on. But maybe I’ll give this a go one day seeing as I really do quite enjoy multi universe stories (to which I shall ask, have you seen the 2013 indie movie Coherence? I think you’d enjoy it. Maybe. Just kidding, maybe I’m projecting).

    Thank you, good sir.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Honestly, it felt great to dabble in more focused analysis again. My scholar’s heart is deeply upset that I couldn’t (a) give page numbers, (b) read all three books first, and (c) continue writing for another several thousand words, but this felt great to write nonetheless. 😄

      I’d really love to hear your thoughts on the book, if you do ever get around to reading it. It’s more romance-focused than plot-focused (and the plot is fairly predictable), but it’s not as popular as it is for no reason.

      Oh, I haven’t heard of Coherence, but I’ll be looking into it. I’ll get back to you on that!


  8. OH MY. 😱

    I’ve read negative reviews on this series before, which is a bummer since these covers are stunning. (I’m a huge sucker for watercolor…) I’m digressing. Anyway, among all those negative reviews I haven’t seen anyone mention any rape?? So thank you for writing this brilliant post and bringing this problem to my attention, Liam. 😊 Traveling across dimensions sounds cool, but I think if I came across the passages you included, I’d be fuming as well-especially because of the way rape was being romanticized. WHICH IS NOT OKAY. Especially if these books are targeted young adults. (Another tangent… but there was an awful rape scene in The Imperial Doctress and I just couldn’t. Ugh. 😔)

    Anyhow, I’m going to give this one a hard pass (that is if I don’t cave and buy this book at whim because of the gorgeous cover). 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The covers are absolutely stunning, for sure. I’d almost be tempted to frame them and hang them on my walls, they’re so beautiful.

      Yeah, romanticizing rape is never acceptable—but the premise of the books really is fascinating, and I know most readers were really swept away by the romance. I can’t blame them for not thinking too had about the ethics of the sex scene! (Though I wish they had, obviously.)

      (And oof, that sounds awful. I’m glad you mentioned it; I doubt I’ll ever watch it, but it’s good to be forewarned, just in case.)

      You’d take gorgeous photos of this book, that’s for sure! 😊


  9. SO. I’ve never removed a book from my TBR so quickly. I’m actually really, really disgusted right now, and almost in shock about how inconsiderate some authors can be. To write a book in such a way that it tricks/confuses readers to the point in which they’re unable to recognize the rape scene for what it is is despicable – the fact that so many wonderful readers and reviewers weren’t able to catch on to this just proves my point. Thank you so much for such a wonderful post, Liam ❤ I’m so glad you took the time to analyze this book and its rape scene; this has been enormously helpful for a lot of bloggers, including me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s both fascinating and horrifying how books can hoodwink readers into not noticing something that they would (if they’d noticed) be deeply upset by. Books (and authors) definitely hold a lot of power, and it does piss me off when I see that power used to make readers happily swallow stuff like this (and misogyny, and abuse, etc.). You’re absolutely right; it’s a testament of this book’s careful deception that so many readers didn’t notice the rape was rape, and that deception is despicable. (Such a perfect word!)

      Thank you so much for this comment, Katie; it means a lot to me to know I was helpful. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  10. So I haven’t read this book and now I’m not entirely sure I will, but YIKES. I’ve seen a lot of people say they didn’t like this book, but not one of them mentioned it was for this reason. It’s really scary that the scene was masked so much that no one was able to recognise it for what it was. This is the kinda stuff that rape culture feeds off. Kinda getting personal, but I was in a situation for so long where I thought a certain thing that happened to me wasn’t anything “that bad” and it took me years to realise it was. And it’s because of this kinda blurred attitude society has that make people just shrug things off when what happened to them is definitely not okay. The fact that it wasn’t even addressed later on makes it so much more harmful too. I can’t even express how much I hate abuse dressed up as romance.

    I can’t believe how many people could have read this and been triggered by it! Endless thank yous for seeing this scene for what it really was and sharing it with the community! Much appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “This is the kinda stuff that rape culture feeds off.”

      This, exactly.

      It’s horrifying and disgusting how insidiously rape culture presents itself in YA (and books in general), and how often it goes unnoticed. It needs to be called out, and I’m glad to help do that; my only regret is that my blog’s following is small, so my enraged wailings won’t reach as large an audience as I want them to. (The ideal audience being everyone, everywhere, more or less.)

      I really appreciate you sharing your story; you’ve really highlighted the ultimate repercussions of scenes like this, and that’s of vital importance. I’d originally written a short section about this scene’s potential affect on victims of rape and abuse, but ultimately removed it because I didn’t feel I was doing the topic justice (especially because I’m not a survivor, myself). I’ll have to scour the Internet to find a survivor’s account of how scenes like this are personally and socially damaging, and update my post with a link.

      Whew, this was a much longer reply than I’d anticipated. Thank you so much for your support and your comment!


  11. You deliver yet again… you’re the voice and reason when most needed.
    I haven’t read the book and even though I’ve seen it around, I haven’t planned to read it either. It’s the time travel that for some reason my brain doesn’t like (in any book)…
    Going back to your post- I’m speechless and just sitting here, grim, shaking my head.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. First of all: thank you so much. This post is oh so necessary and just written perfectly. You make your point and your case is bullet-proof, I love it. I haven’t read the book but I did feel a bit uncomfortable reading the scene. Boy did that book hide the rape well. With no real purpose, I don’t see why this scene was left in the story. It seems unbelievable that publishers did not flag it. I hate when such messages find their place in books, I mean, come on, we’re talking about rape, and the fact I did not see it right away makes me feel terrible because it means my brain knew something was off but I could have accepted it anyway and that is so wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Isn’t it hidden perfectly? It’s amazing (and by “amazing” I mean “terrifying”) what a book can trick its readers into not noticing.

      I suppose if most readers didn’t notice it, it’s not terribly surprising that the professionals involved in its production didn’t notice either. Still, I would like to demand a higher degree of critical reading and awareness from the professionals than I do the readers at large. Bah.


  13. Gosh- it’s kind of even worse because there’s so many feelings wrapped up in this- the Duchess has to “watch” as her body’s used to have sex with the man she loves and the Lieutenant has been tricked into having sex with a stranger when he thinks he’s with the woman he loves. The deception involved makes it doubly rapey- because the Lieutenant had his choice taken away too! So messed up! Also she’s totally aware that what she’s done is wrong- and yet she doesn’t regret it!! What I don’t get is why the Lieutenant wouldn’t care?! And then has sex with her again… what!?! I agree it’s sneakily masking it- another way I think it does this is making everyone in the story is just ok with it at the drop of the hat- the Duchess “would’ve wanted it anyway” (like you said Marguerite assumes that she’s like her and would make the same choices) and the Lieutenant is totally fine with it too- so what’s the big deal? It’s framed as something both parties wanted anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh man, yes. Thank you so much for this comment; you give me life.

      You bring up so many points that I wanted to, and decided not to, and SHOULD’VE discussed in my post. This is such a complex topic, and the more you look at it, the worse it gets.

      And there’s an added few levels of WHAT THE HELL that are added in the sequel, which I didn’t go into (I wanted to keep this post focused on a single topic, and it was already super long) but wish I had. Maybe I’ll do a follow-up post at some point? I don’t even know.

      Honestly, I hadn’t thought much about why Lt. Markov didn’t care after finding out he’d slept with a virtual stranger. I was upset and disgusted at Marguerite, because not telling him who he was having sex with was a major violation, but I didn’t consider his own lack of response to the news. Thank you for pointing that out! That’s something that really does need to be highlighted and discussed, and I hope other readers noticed that too.

      Once again, I’ll be pointing future readers toward your amazing comment for further thought. You really are the best. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome! Yes it really is a “what the hell” kind of thing isn’t it!
        Ah I think I was just aware of that, cos I’ve seen other things like this before where the guy is basically tricked into being with someone, but they don’t mind as much, cos you know “men are supposed to just want sex with everyone all the time” or some nonsense like that. It’s clearly crossing a line, but people often shrug their shoulders about it. It’s weird that he doesn’t care- I saw the same kind of trick being played on robin hood in once upon a time (don’t know if you’ve ever watched that) but at least he had the wherewithal to get mad about it!
        Aww thanks that’s very sweet of you to say 🙂 ♥

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You’re absolutely right, that men who’re victims of sexual violence aren’t generally viewed as victims–and that’s a serious problem. I know that if I were in Lt. Markov’s position, I’d be furious, and feel violated. It’s absolutely unacceptable.

        Ugh, I didn’t know something like that happened in Once Upon a Time; it’s awesome, though, that the character was able to speak out about what happened. Hurray, progress!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yesd definitely. Yeah that’s what you’d expect. It really is.
        Well sort of- they were like “ughh” for about a moment- but they didn’t seem to bothered in the long run- aka they got over it pretty fast, especially cos she got pregnant and he wanted to be there for the baby, even if he didn’t like her. So… not great. If the roles had been reversed I think the backlash would’ve been more than being a bit peeved at her. It just gave the bare minimum of having him not being happy about it. But there was no real repercussions. And in an odd way that led to the character getting invited back into the fold (not sure if I’m explaining it too well- hope it makes some sense!)

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Oh, wow. Just . . . wow. Yeah, “not great” is a good assessment of that whole situation. I’d been vaguely considering picking the series back up eventually, but I’m feeling less inclined to do so now. Don’t worry, you explained it well, and I’m glad you mentioned it. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      5. errr yeah that series went downhill for a lot of reasons. My sister and I stuck with it for ages- but in the end we gave up at the end of the last season after a particularly dreadful version of Jekyll and Hyde. Thanks! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  14. I haven’t read this book, and quite frankly I didn’t know anything about it. But, yes, I completely agree with you. It was rape as clear as day. I’ve read quite a few reviews about this book, most of them not positive, and not a single one of them discussed this, at all. I didn’t even know this existed until you brought it to our attention! Which you did quite brilliantly and accessibly, by the way. Thank you so much!! I’m in shock and quite angry as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m honestly so glad you hadn’t read the book yet, and didn’t have to stumble across the scene unprepared.

      It’s disappointing to have further confirmation that other reviewers (even those giving it negative reviews) aren’t discussing this, though. I’m still holding out hope that there has been an enormous discussion in some other corner of the blogging community, so I can just be adding my voice to theirs. That’d be such a relief!

      Thank you so much for commenting, Neha! It’s comforting to be angry in good company.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Thank you, so much, for this post. It is so well explained and it shows in so many ways how problematic this scene was. I felt very uncomfortable when reading it; not only I felt like Marguerite and Tentant Markov didn’t have much time to fall in love so deeply with each other like they did, I also didn’t like how she was using someone else’s body.
    I’m glad that this post can be eye-opening for a lot of readers and also for acknowledge this issue, in such a detailed way. When I was writing my reviews, I couldn’t adress it properly, so I’m glad to have a link I can share with others everytime they ask me why I disliked this novel, hahah.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad it was helpful! It really is great to be able to just send someone a link to explain your stance on something; I’m kind of ecstatic to have written something that you can use for that purpose! (Though, obviously, I’m not ecstatic that it needed to be written in the first place.)

      And it’s so true, that Lt. Markov and Marguerite didn’t have much time to fall so deeply in love–certainly not so deeply as to make me buy his whole “I will love you no matter which version of you you are” speech. Thanks for pointing that out!


  16. Thank you for this post. I read this book over the weekend and was put off by a few things, but specifically this scene and the general callousness with which Marguerite treats other people’s bodies and lives throughout the book. I can’t imagine why she tells herself she made responsible choices while hijacking others when she did anything but. Putting the whole rape issue aside, she also directed Duchess Margarita’s body away from safety and toward a dangerous battle because SHE wanted to get the Firebird back. The language of the objectionable scene was particularly disturbing to me–“we must”? Really? You MUST use someone else’s body to have sex with someone when he himself, for entirely different reasons, is trying to exercise caution? I would also point out, along the lines of a comment above, that in addition to not being told the truth before the sexual encounter occurred, Lt Markov is also given false reassurances by Marguerite when he learns the truth. When he specifically asks if the Duchess consented, Marguerite implies to him that she knows for certain that the Duchess would have wanted it. Not understanding time travel, he appears to take her word at face value before jumping in for another round.

    And as you astutely noted, we are informed several times that Lt Markov and Paul are different people to the extent that Marguerite feels she is cheating on Lt Markov if she kisses Paul. So that blows any hint of the argument that they’re the same person out of the water.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely everything you point out is spot-on and, unfortunately, deeply troubling.

      The fact that Marguerite insists on heading toward the battle instead of toward safety is a perfect example of her lack of concern for her hosts; I hadn’t thought of it that way when I read it, but it’s so obvious now that you mention it.

      And YES, all the “we must” and “I need” language is both blatantly untrue and works to further justify (both to the reader and Marguerite herself) that her actions are excusable.

      When she was explaining the interdimensional-travel situation to Lt. Markov, Marguerite said one thing (well, okay, MANY things) that especially alarmed me. He summarizes what she just told him, saying that she and the Duchess are separate individuals living separate lives; her answer is, “Not so separate, right now.” Which clearly implies that she and the Duchess are joined and unified, which isn’t the case at all. They are still separate, completely.

      Bah. Honestly, we could write a whole separate book exploring the layers of awful going on in this story. Perhaps we should?

      Ah, her thoughts of cheating on Lt. Markov with Paul is a perfect example! I’ll be adding that to my list, for future potential arguments. Thank you for pointing that out! The one I’d chosen (but didn’t use, obviously; I decided NOT to write a book, though perhaps I should’ve) is when she’s reflecting on her history/relationship with Lt. Markov, and thinks, “The man I loved is dead. Nothing changes that.” I do appreciate that she took the time to repeatedly inform readers that these are two completely separate Pauls; it’s nice to have so many excellent quotes to fall back on to help prove a point!

      Thank you for your insight! That’s really helpful. =)


  17. I haven’t read the book, but your post caught my attention and YIKES. I’d have to say I agree. Especially when you explained it with the coma patient scenario and everything, when you put that way, it becomes so very clear how messed up it is in the book. But also, if Lt. Markov didn’t know when he had sex with the Duchess that she wasn’t really the Duchess, I’m inclined to say he was raped too since he was led to believe he was having sex with one person when in fact he was with another. Like, if someone were to consent to sleep with one person but then their identical twin switched places with them. So this is just problematic all around.

    And she just… forgot that pregnancy was a thing? “Oh well, I’m not the one who will have to deal with the consequences, so who cares!”

    And I have to say, when you first described the whole premise of the book about jumping to different bodies and taking control, that alone already disturbed me before you even got to the parts about that. And like you said, why would she just presume to know what decisions or mistakes they would make? This character sounds awful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, thank you so much for reading my post!

      It’s good to hear the coma patient example was especially helpful. I was a little worried that it’d be gross of me to spend a few hundred words describing other rape scenarios (it’s certainly not fun to read about), but I hoped people would find it eye-opening. I’m glad it was worth reading!

      And YES, that is such an amazing point, and one that should be discussed as well. The Orang-utan Librarian mentioned the same thing, in a comment up above, and I wholeheartedly agree with both of you. Lt. Markov was definitely violated—and I believe that his response to Marguerite’s “Hey, I’m actually someone else” revelation would NOT have been “Oh, okay, interesting, I love you.” Which is what he said in the book, almost verbatim. The fact that he doesn’t consider himself violated by Marguerite’s withheld information helps hide the fact of his violation.

      Yes, the whole premise of the series is deeply uncomfortable. I’m happy to say, though, that (judging from my skimming of the second book, and my reading of reviews for the third) Marguerite and her group do come to realize that what they’re doing is immoral. That’s good, at least!

      I’ll be honest, “awful” is exactly how I think of her. You chose the perfect word.

      So I’m guessing you won’t be reading this book anytime soon yourself, then, huh?


  18. Wow, this is a great article. I have read good reviews on this book. I had no idea that something this sinister could be hidden within. It is interestiing that so many people felt there was something wrong, but were unable to pinpoint the problem. Thank you for sharing this disturbing observation. This article is a therapeutic and helpful rant. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much!

      It’s amazing what kind of terrible things can be hiding in plain sight in our books—but it’s heartening that so many could sense it (even if they couldn’t put their finger on what was bothering them).

      Thanks for the comment, and for sharing this post! My audience is pretty small, and every little signal boost this post gets is a huge help. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  19. What a fantastic post, Liam. I’m sharing it immediately. I saw mediocre reviews for this series (it wasn’t all that popular around the blogs I read) but not one of them mentioned the rape element. It’s difficult sometimes to be conscious of every way a book can be offensive to someone but it makes me wonder how a thing like this got past everyone involved in the book’s production + the reviewers, because it’s horrifying. As much as I hate that you had to have this bad reading experience, I’m glad you took the time to write about it.

    And yeah, talk about nightmare scenarios, imagine being trapped inside your body and forced into a dormant state by an invading consciousness. Shit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Kaja!

      You’re right, it can be so hard to be aware of every possible problematic element; I know I miss a lot of things, though I try not to. But rape is one of those things that I kind of assume most critical readers (like the professionals involved in the book’s production) would’ve been able to spot a mile away.

      “Nightmare scenario” is right. Just imagining what the Duchess (and all the other hosts) went through makes my stomach churn. Ugh.

      Thanks for the comment (and sharing my post)!


  20. Excellent analysis, Liam! I have no words for this scene. It’s unbelievably insensitive and it presents a plethora of issues put forth by both authors and publishers. For no one to question some aspects of this series is more than a little concerning. I haven’t read the books just yet but I don’t even like the concept of body jumping. The other person’s consciousness is kept silent while another invasive entity takes control of the person’s body???? That kind of sounds like a form of rape as well. There’s so many problems with the premise, this scene, and the dialogue that glosses over these obvious violations. You presented your argument VERY well and I wholeheartedly agree that this was a hidden rape. Thank you so much for acknowledging yet another issue of concerning behaviors presented in YA genres nowadays!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Azia!

      “More than a little concerning” is right. We already live in a culture that doesn’t take rape as seriously as it should; that a scene like this can be published without comment by professionals or readers is both a symptom of our rape culture and a further step in perpetuating it. It (subtly, quietly) teaches readers that this isn’t rape, and that it’s totally for sure romantic. I’m so aghast, Azia, I just can’t even.

      If it’s any consolation, from what I read skimming the second, and from what I understand of the third book, the characters (including Marguerite) do realize that invading other people’s bodies is immoral and a violation of their rights, and that they were doing something awful by engaging in this interdimensional travel stuff. So that’s good! It’s just upsetting that Marguerite never connects the dots to realize she instigated and performed the Duchess’s rape.

      Thank you the support! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, it’s nice to know that the characters eventually realize their mistakes, but yes, I wish it had occurred sooner so that the Duchess’s rape never took place. I think I might still give this series a go, but I’ll be consumed by a fiery sense of rage for the first book before I can cool off in the second and third books. It’s just a question of whether or not it’s worth subjecting myself to those badly conveyed themes. But thanks again for frequently acknowledging these immoral actions in YA ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  21. You should first rrad the whole series before writing s blog on a scene from book 1. Book 3 explains Grand Duchess’ Marguerite’s opinion on then whole affair and I can assure you its not rape since she openly expresses that everything Marguerite did with Lt Markov was all the Grand Duchess wanted to do. Read the whole series first before trying to “educate” us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello there! Thank you so much for the comment, and the info about book three. I’d known that the Duchess was able to speak for herself in the third book, but I wasn’t aware of exactly what she said. (I’d assumed, however, that she reassured Marguerite that she’d loved the sex, or something along those lines.) I’m looking forward to getting my hands on a copy to be able to read her thoughts on the subject!

      However, I stand by my argument that this is rape. “Rape” has a many-layered definition, but at its briefest it is “sexual activity acted upon someone who did not or could not consent.” And that is literally what happens in this book.

      Even if book three shows the Duchess telling everyone that she would’ve consented, she was literally incapable of consenting at the time it happened—and that is the textbook definition of rape.

      But the fact of the rape doesn’t mean that the books are bad or have no value, nor does it mean that people who love the books are awful. I’m sure there’s a lot of great stuff going on in the series, and readers love them for a reason!

      My concern is that this book was written within a culture that doesn’t take rape seriously, and it’s perpetuating that attitude by teaching readers that this situation isn’t rape (despite the fact that it matches the textbook definition of rape perfectly).

      But I do understand that all readers will view the situation differently, and I don’t have the power to change everyone’s minds on the subject. And that’s a-okay. I’m glad you enjoy the books, and I hope you continue to love them on future rereads. We all need as many beloved books in our lives as we can get our hands on!

      Thanks again for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  22. I haven’t read or come across these books before, but I’m not sure if I want to. Before you even mentioned the rape scene I felt hugely uncomfortable about the idea of interdimensional travel. Using someone else’s body to serve your own purpose in any way seems like a huge violation to me, and Maguerite’s ignorance to that is mindblowing! It sounds like the novels would have been much more complex and thought-provoking reads if they focused on how each Maguerite is different instead of turning them into carbon copies of each other. It’s worrying when rape finds its way into a book, particularly YA, and is presented as anything other than what it is.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t agree with you more, on all accounts.

      This book (and the series as a whole) definitely had a lot of potential for serious, thoughtful commentary on a bunch of ethical questions, including an individual’s right to control and make decisions for their own body. Perhaps the final book does take it more in that direction (that’d be great!), but like you said, changes would need to be made to the entire trilogy to bring the point home.

      Here’s hoping we don’t find another well-hidden rape like this again, ever.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Yes, thank you for this well-written and in-depth critique! I read A Thousand Pieces of You years ago as an ARC, and the inherent consent issues horrified me then to the point where I never felt compelled to finish the series, even when I liked the parts about parallel universe travel. I had hoped they would be addressed, but it’s clear that they never properly were. Re-reading that scene now makes it even more horrifying–frankly the language used (the “we must not/we must”) would have put me off the scene even without the inherent bodily autonomy issues, but that language coupled with the parallel universe travel just makes it a mess.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Stormy!

      It’s a genuine relief to meet someone who was as instinctively put off by this scenario as I was.

      You’re absolutely right about the dialogue adding a whole new dimension of NOPE to the scene. I’m sure there are readers out there who are titillated by the taboo nature of the relationship, and the Love So Pure And True that overwhelms every rational thought—and in other, non-rapey scenarios I can imagine enjoying it myself—but definitely not here.

      Thanks so much for commenting!


    1. The book really does do a good job of preventing readers from thinking too much about the sex beyond “it’s so romantic,” that’s for sure. It’s still disappointing and frustrating to hear that you haven’t come across anyone else who’s talking about this, though. It’s a topic I wish everyone was talking about, loudly.

      I’m so grateful that you took the time to read my (incredibly long, I’m so sorry) rant, Jordan; it means so much to me that you did, I can’t even tell you.

      Liked by 1 person

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