Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

There have been a lot of time traveling YA novels lately. It seems like it is the new "thing" that is becoming popular to read about, where dystopian novels used to be. That on top of mixed reviews about this book led me to be a little skeptical as I got ready to read. It has such a beautiful cover (one of the best of the year for sure), but experience tells me that sometimes the best books are the one with the cheesy covers and the ones with the beautiful covers seem to use that as a marketing ploy to make up for a so-so book. Thankfully this theory did not prove true for A Thousands Pieces Of You.

Marguerite is the black sheep in her family. She is the artist in a family of scientists, but she is still incredibly close to her family even though she doesn't understand what they are talking about half of the time. Her mom and dad have recently made a huge breakthrough with something her mom has been working on a for a long time- traveling through different universes. Seems crazy, right? That's exactly what everyone told them until finally they develop it enough to attract attention from a huge corporation called Triad that helps fund their experiment. They develop a device called "Firebird" that allows people to travel through different dimensions in the universe. Marguerite's parents also have the help of two grad students, Theo and Paul, in their major breakthrough.

All of this is great until Marguerite's dad ends up at the bottom of a river after someone cut the brakes on his car. That someone just happens to be Paul, right after he trashed all of their data in their lab. Now Paul is MIA. He took the most recent and most developed Firebird and has hopped into another dimension trying to escape the murder he just committed. The family is heartbroken. Theo comes to Marguerite one day and tells her that he has salvaged the prototype Firebirds and has updated them enough that he is going to travel to find Paul and bring him to justice. Of course there just happens to conveniently be two of the Firebirds, so Marguerite insists on coming too. Their journey takes them into a futuristic London, then to Russia where the technology is so behind that they still use steam engines and horse drawn carriages. After those two (which are the most important, I think, besides the final one) they go to two more before the big finale at the ending. There are some major surprises in each of the "worlds."

I will say that even though there were several big twists in this novel, I had the basic plot figured out pretty early on. It's pretty predictable, but it doesn't stop you from enjoying it. The world building in this book is absolutely incredible. Each new dimension you are taken to, you really a full view of the world and how the characters are so different in each one. Marguerite learns so much about herself by experiencing the different versions of herself. She started on the journey on a wild goose chase because she wanted to avenge her dad, but when the ending came she had grown SO much and definitely was not the same girl that started.

I guess you could say that there is a love triangle (don't worry, it isn't insta-love) between Marguerite, Paul, and Theo. It isn't really that simple. I really started off shipping Marguerite to Theo instantly. I wanted her to be with him in London SO bad, but as time goes on you realize that he isn't the best fit for her. He is sassy and handsome and reckless and brilliant... All the perfect makings of a bad boy, but he just isn't the right fit for Marguerite. You learn so much about Paul that by mid-novel you have no idea what to think. He is introverted and mysterious and handsome in a shy why that he doesn't understand, but he cares so deeply for Marguerite. It's hard to go into a lot of the love triangle without giving away spoilers. I will just say that Russia was my favorite and my heart ached for Marguerite. I think that dimension complicated things every more than they were to start with (which seems crazy). What happens there and the ramifications it causes brings a very unique spin on the (not so) love triangle for the rest of the book. I'll just say that I love Paul and think he is perfect for Marguerite.

The love story reminds me of Peeta, Katniss, and Gale. Yes, Gale is the super hot one and the bad boy and the one that Katniss had the history with. She cared about Gale so much, but after she goes through everything, she realizes she cares for him on a different level than Peeta. Peeta would do absolutely anything for Katniss and proves his love over and over. The love that Peeta and Katniss develop is gut wrenching and passionate and desperate, but they belong together. That's how I feel about Paul and Marguerite. The ending made me feel hopeful, but I am excited to see where the series goes. I know a lot of people will be on team Theo (just like they were on team Gale), but for me the attraction is merely that... attraction. The love I developed for Paul was so much deeper than the surface deep emotions that I felt for Theo. Yes, Marguerite cares for Theo, but it is just not even in the same universe as the way she cares for Paul.

Like I said before, I had all the basic twists and the plot figured out pretty early on, but I wasn't sure how Gray would end the book. I was pleasantly surprised by a solid ending where most of the loose ends are tied up. Enough is left open where the series can continue, but there isn't some crazy cliffhanger leaving you dangling (I have a love/hate relationship with cliffhangers.. mostly hate, especially when the second book is long away from being released). Another surprising thing about the plot is the focus on Marguerite's grief. The way she expresses herself is so easy to relate to, especially if you have ever lost anyone close to you. I really appreciate how Gray made Marguerite's grieving and feelings the same for someone who isn't traveling through dimensions and other crazy things. Grief is grief no matter where you are.

"Now I know grief is a whetstone. It sharpens all your love, all your happiest memories, into blades that tear you apart from within. Something has been torn out from inside that will never be filled up, not ever, no matter how long I love. They say 'time heals,' but even now, less than a week after my father's death, I know that is a lie. What people really mean is that eventually you'll get get used to the pain. You'll forget who you were without it; you'll forget what you looked like without your scars. This, I think, is the boundary line of adulthood. Not the crap they claim it is-- graduating high school or losing your virginity or getting your first apartment or whatever. You cross the boundary the first time you're changed forever. You cross it the first time you know you can never go back."

Overall, I am pretty impressed with this book. It was sweet and unique in all the right ways. I was skeptical in the first few chapters with all of the science talk that made my eyes feel like it was going to cross, but thankfully that was just there to set up the scene for everything that was going on. I really enjoyed the world building, the character development, the plot progression, and the ending. I am really excited for this series to continue, and I just hope it will be as good as the first. Because of the different dimensions, I think this book will appeal to fans of a lot of different genres. It's contemporary, but there's fantasy, dystopian, and even some historical. I think this book is a must read for everyone, and I am definitely adding it to my "2014 favorites" list.

5/5 stars