Hope you have been having a good week. This week’s review post is from my first-ever approved NetGalley title! I had so much fun reading The Space Between Worlds and couldn’t believe in when Hodder & Stoughton approved me for this book so big thanks to them, Netgalley and Micaiah Johnson for providing me with this e-arc in exchange for an honest review.
How would you feel if there were 382 versions of Earth out there in the multiverse each with a doppelganger of ‘you’ on it? How would you then react if you could travel to 375 of those Earths because ‘you’ no longer existed on them? Would you get Imposter Syndrome? Or would you be thrilled at the opportunities that living countless new lives could bring?
The Space Between Worlds is an insightful yet gritty Sci-fi novel which seeks to answer these questions whilst at the same time contemplating what it means to be ‘you’ in a multiverse where multiple versions of you could possibly exist.
Mini-Musings (Review in brief)
Detailed Musings (Spoiler-free review)
Book: The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson
Genre: Science Fiction
Publication Date: Expected on 4th August 2020
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Mini-Musings (review in brief)
I don’t tend to read much Sci-fi and usually stick to the more fantasy side of the wider genre but the blurb for The Space Between Worlds intrigued me so much that I had to read it. The world felt really dystopian and the balance between the shiny, rich Wiley City compared to the rural wastelands was reminiscent of the divided world in The Hunger Games. It took me a little while to get into it as I felt the need to concentrate on what was happening, especially with so much talk of multiple versions of one person flying around, but the further I traversed into the story, the clearer I understood how this multiverse worked. There are so many dimensions and levels that each chapter was like peeling back another layer of the onion. The Space Between Worlds has plenty to offer both those looking for a sci-fi mind-bender of multiple earths, as well as those looking for the morality and human elements behind the storyline. It was a truly captivating read and I’m so glad and thankful that I was given the opportunity to read it.
Synopsis (From Goodreads)
Reasons Cara has died:
– The emperor of the wasteland wanted to make an example of her mother and started with her
– One of her mother’s boyfriends wanted to cover up what he did to her
– She was born addicted and her lungs didn’t develop
– She was left alone, and a stranger came along
– The runners came for a neighbour and she was in the way
– The runners came for her mother and she was in the way
– The runners came for her boyfriend and she was in the way
– The runners came for no one, serving nothing but chaos and fear, and she was what they found
– Her mother left her alone in a shed while she worked or got high and she fell asleep alone and hungry and forever
Reasons Cara has lived:
– She doesn’t know but there are 8.
The multiverse business is booming, but there’s just one catch: no one can visit a world where their counterpart is still alive.
Enter Cara. Of the 382 realities that have been unlocked, Cara is dead in all but eight
But on this earth, she survived. Born in the wastelands where if a basic lack of resources didn’t kill you, violence would, Cara is happy to reap the benefits of a job and a safe place in the city to call home.
But when one of her eight remaining doppelgangers dies under mysterious circumstances, Cara is plunged into a new world with an old secret. What she discovers will connect her past and future in ways she never could have imagined – and reveal her own role in a plot that endangers not just her world, but the entire multiverse.
Just like the multiverse itself, the mixture of characters, world-building and themes gave The Space Between Worlds many layers which I felt neatly came together at the end. There was action, adventure, deception, angst and romance as well as overarching themes which complemented to a bigger, more philosophical picture. I came to increasingly like the main character ‘Cara’ and understand her viewpoint on life the further into the story I got. Seeing it through her eyes allowed me to empathise with her character and my connection to her grew more and more as parts of her past and history were revealed.
At the start, I admit it took me a little while to understand how the multiverse and traversers’ abilities to walk between worlds actually happened. This is not time travelling, there are no rockets or spaceships involved, it’s more a sense of transportation from one Earth to another. The ‘science’ behind this is explained more as the novel develops but I loved that it wasn’t reliant on my knowledge of astro-/quantum physics just to keep up – it’s the story that is the main focus here. The presence of Nyame, who is almost like the God protecting the spaces between, helped to balance the scientific with spirituality which added a thought-provoking dimension to the narrative and transformed it from some of the more traditional space-travel novels out there. This balance is neatly woven throughout the story.
The many versions of Earth helped to highlight different real-life elements which pose as barriers in today’s society. The rich and elite live in Wiley City where they thrive with protection, wealth and opportunity; Ashtown showcases the hard-graft and poverty that comes with surviving in a rural wasteland. The idea of the Eldridge Institute (where Cara works) monopolising interstellar travel hints at corporationalism and the sense that totalitarian control and data-tracking are steadily becoming major parts of our everyday human existence. The Space Between Worlds also seems to throw the usual rules of altering the past/future or meeting your doppelganger out of the window. In-fact the whole plot ends up being central to the reliance of this breaking of the rules adding an interesting aspect to the whole narrative.
The novel tackles many key issues relating to mental-health such as loneliness, identity and grief. Feeling lonely on one Earth can be painful enough, but loneliness in a multiverse of 382 of them? Perhaps there’s no word for that. This feeling was made poignantly clear through Cara’s perspective. Her deep-rooted desire to find a people and place where she truly belongs runs through the heart of the entire novel. It is her exploration and experience of these ideals which enables the reader to begin to relate to her character and see her as more than just a one dimensional world-walker.
With each chapter, a new jigsaw piece was put into place to help me understand the story. There was enough action and explanation to keep me in a state of curiosity as to where the plot was going and how it could possibly end. I felt that the finale wasn’t as high-stakes and action-packed as I was expecting, especially given a previous scene in the novel, however reflecting on this I now see that it didn’t need to be. All of my questions were answered yet still leaving me some room to have my own reader speculations about where the characters’ lives could go next – in a way, that’s one of my favourite types of endings.
If you’re just starting out into the sci-fi genre, or you prefer your sci-fi novels with a little less spaceship and a bit more character development, then you would probably would find an awful lot to enjoy in The Space Between Worlds. This novel has so much to offer a reader and the constant references into what lies in the spaces between things – be it worlds, people, places, identities, emotions… completely encapsulates and resonates in the entirety of this book. There were so many quotations and phrases I highlighted which I found to be powerful and moving. For me that’s a sure sign that I thoroughly enjoyed everything The Spaces Between Worlds gave me.
Thanks for reading! Happy Wednesday everyone!