Firstly: I loved this book. So Great!
Intriguing take on a multiverse theme, but at the same time that’ not really what the story was. Multiverse travel: that’s the plot. The story is: longing, love, classism, ecological disaster, choices, mystery, murder, doing the right thing….
The book was clever, well written, had plenty of unexpected twists, and details, was interesting, and creative, as well as being very well written.
[Mild spoilers ahead]
So yes – the basis of the story, is about the discovery of the multiverse – and how to travel between them. The kicker is, humans can not travel successfully to another ‘planet’, unless their doppelgänger there has died. Being sent to a planet on which you are current alive, almost without fail ends up in your death, so nope, not with trying to go and have a peek at yourself, in a different life. Despite the overwhelming temptation.
An interesting use in the story – is the humans of ‘Earth Zero’ (us, the creators), is they go to gather data. Along with [stealing] resources. The story doesn’t go in to a LOT of details, but they analyze the data on a large scale, noting how different events, choices, etc – impact the population/ecology, etc. My country makes war and obliterates its neighbour on Earth 56? We watch the cause and effects of it. Population, deaths, diseases, food supply, weather… whatever. Definitely intriguing. Sadly though, as interesting as it is – it’s a thread of the plot that is mentioned, and touched lightly in areas of the story when it’s useful, but it’s more of a background detail.
The story focuses on the people across the worlds. Our main Character, Cara, is perhaps, obsessed with knowing EVERYTHING she can discover, about her other selves. Of the 382 Earths we are able to connect with in the multiverse, due to them being ‘mostly similar’ to ours [and unable to connect with ones beyond a certain amount of similarity,] – Cara is alive on 7. So she knows all about the 377 that are dead – how, why, because of whom, age, life, – everything she can learn. Along with obtaining as much information as she can on the sly that she isn’t supposed to have access to – though an unauthorized data login to the system – she hoards what she can learn about the other ‘her’s’ that are alive. But who can blame her? Instead of daydreaming about how X choice might have changed your life; Cara can see many of these on others. Her mother is alive. Her mother dies when she was 7. Her mother is an addict. Her mother is clean. Her mother married this one, or that one. Etc. This consumes a lot of the story… but in many ways, it’s also background threads of plot. It matters, to some degree – but it isn’t the main plot thread.
The story is deep with many complex threads that don’t often seem to be connected… until they are. Masterful storytelling, pulling it all together.
My biggest gripe about the story – was the ending – tying all the plots together, and putting a bow on the end – happened much to rushed – it would have benefited with the careful detailed story telling employed thru the rest of the book – a couple more chapters to flesh out the details, instead a couple pages of this this and this happened, the end. But… it still covered all the basis, and didn’t leave any lingering things I needed to know to be satisfied. Probably more – I just didn’t want it to end yet. [But I stand on it could have taken a bit more time in the end sequence.]
The story touches on many current affair trigger topics – without slipping in to the oft preachy overkilled version that consumes most media today. Yay! Nothing that drives me more mad than being taught lessons in my sci-fi reading. Or being preached to. Or being forced to slog thru Woke drivel. UGH.
Trigger warnings should be mentioned: Physical Abuse, Murder, Class war, Gruesome deaths, Verbal abuse, and more.