Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Reading on a Theme: Parallel Realities and Multiple Dimensions

I generally love a good parallel realities story. In fact, I think I wrote that very sentence in nearly all the reviews below. I love parallel reality stories so much that this is the third Reading on a Theme dedicated to parallel reality tales. You can find the first two installments here and here and another post here. However, it's been since 2016 so I think we are overdue for this latest installment.


Reliving the Last Four Months:
Things changed for Jack Ellison King when he met Kate. Sadly, this isn't the rosy story of first love because Jack only has four months with Kate before she dies. But instead of the story ending there, Jack is sent back in time to the moment he met Kate, and it all begins again. And again. Maybe next time Jack will be able to save Kate. Opposite of Always is a mix of first love, first loss, and Groundhog's Day. I'm always a sucker for the parallel reality set-up, and this book kind of falls into that camp. A story like this can easily become repetitive, but I think Justin A Reynolds did a pretty good job of keeping the timelines fresh and continuing Jack's character arc even when the event did repeat.
One Coin, Two Choices:
Stevie Rosenstein is new in town. Best friends Drew and Shane are both taken with Stevie and want to ask her out, so they decide to flip for it. Where It All Lands follows the two timelines that result from that coin toss. I tend to think that the best parallel reality stories navigate the character to the same general conclusion or outlook on life despite the path they take, and Jennie Wexler's book does this well. I could easily see how either path would have been completely realistic for Stevie to take. I loved the music element of this story and seeing the three characters work to develop their music skills. Where It All Lands is out July 6, 2021. Review copy from NetGalley. 
Hit Into the Next Dimension:
The main character of Game Changer, Ash, is a defensive end on his high school football team. During his games he gets knocked into a series of alternate realities or parallel universes. With each shift the world or his personage is slightly different. As Ash moves through the various alternate worlds he learns about inequity and privilege and what he can change and what he can't. This is definitely a thought-provoking book, and I think it could be really eye opening for its intended audience (which I'm assuming is teenage boys). I generally like Neal Shusterman's work, and I'm glad I gave this one a try. Game Changer is out February 9, 2021. Review copy from Edelweiss.

A Summer of Possibilities:
Adelaide Buchwald is floundering. Her family has been through a lot, and it is impacting her emotionally and mentally. She has one summer to pull together a decent project or be kicked out of the boarding school she began attending when her dad got a job there. Again Again is a parallel realities story where multiple timelines play out across Adelaide's summer. Parallel reality books usually work for me, and this one was no exception, but it was the tone of the book that hit me just right. With this book E. Lockhart reminds us that boy can she write. It has a melancholy, wistful quality to it with just the right touch of hopefulness. I also loved the contemporary art gallery. I really enjoyed this book. Again Again was out June 2020. Review copy from NetGalley.

A House With Many Doors:
Jane, Unlimited is quite the trip. It's about a girl who accepts an invitation to a mysterious island mansion because her recently deceased aunt told her to never turn down an invitation to Tu Reviens. Kristin Cashore's book is essentially about choices, and the routes that open and close when a choice is made. In general, I'm a big fan of parallel reality stories, so I'm not surprised that I liked this book. Also, I really loved the whole art heist story line. I just love imagining what the famous Vermeer painting, Young Women Writing a Letter with her Frog, would look like. (No frogs in any real Vermeer paintings.) The abundance of frogs and umbrellas in this book were details that I found quite endearing and amusing.


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