Review of A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

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I’ve pulled up my ranty-pants, I’m fuelled by rage and coffee, let’s kick this review off with a summary of my reading experience, shall we?

To my great displeasure, reading this book was like chewing on a lump of black mould just to check it ain’t caviar.

I mean, what the ever-loving bejesus was that?

It was not supposed to be like this. You don’t understand; I was excited. I’ve had my eye on this for months. This was supposed to be epic, I honestly had no doubts. With the premise being a daughter of two scientists chasing her father’s killer through alternate dimensions in order to exact her revenge, how can you fuck up?

There is nothing redeemable about this book. I could scrape the bottom of the barrel if I really tried, but what would be the point? I would be saying things like at least it didn’t condone rape! or hey, spelling errors were not abundant in this novel, thumbs up! And anyway, I don’t want to deny myself the pleasure of rage-reviewing this hunk o’ crap into next Tuesday.

We begin with Marguerite (solid name), the daughter of two genius scientists who have invented the Firebird, a device that allows the user to jump into the body of their alternate self in an alternate universe. Marguerite wants to murder the man who killed her father and stole one of the Firebird prototypes to escape to another dimension, so she intends to follow him and totally kill him. Unfortunately, the girl is not exactly filled with blood-lust, so it’s pretty obvious from the start that she’s not going to kill him

Now, when dealing with sci-fi alternate reality whatsits and a plot that could potentially create some pretty intricate plot holes, it’s a good idea to properly explain how yo shit works. The best explanation in the book is literally where the author explains what an alternate dimension is.

“These dimensions aren’t off in faraway outer space. They’re literally all around us, even within us, but because they exist in another reality, we can’t perceive them.”


It’s a bad copy-paste from a child’s guide to quantum physics. We all know what an alternate universe is, you plum. What we would like, Claudia Gray, is a decent explanation of how you’ve made dimension leaping possible, how it all works, what happens when you get there. But what do we get? A series of cop-outs.

“When people travel through dimensions.” he said, staring down at the prototypes, “they leave traces. Subatomic – okay, I’m gonna cut to the chase. The point is, I can go after Paul.”


“The devices have to be made out of specific materials that move much more easily than other forms of matter; they have to anchor the consciousness of the traveler, which is apparently very difficult; and about a million other technical considerations I’d have to get umpteen physics degrees to even understand. Long story short: the devices are really hard to make.”


“So does destiny create the math, or does math create our destiny?”
“Insufficient data,” Paul said.

This screams laziness. It’s the type of world-building that I hate: this device does this because I say so, I need my plot to work so just go with it. HELL NO. How can I get into a story when you’re making it so difficult?!

I think the most ludicrous would be when Gray invokes old Schrödinger’s Cat.

“Apparently when people travel between dimensions, their physical forms are “no longer observable”, which is a quantum mechanics thing, and explaining it involves this whole story about a cat that’s in a box and is simultaneously alive and dead until you open to box, and it gets seriously complicated. Never ask a physicist about that cat.”

Not only is this another cop-out explanation (you didn’t even explain the theory, let alone why physical forms are no longer observable, you failure), but you’ve also tried to be a bit sciency by referencing a theory that is a parody.

In case you’re unaware, Schrödinger’s Cat is a theory that if you put a cat in the box with a bottle of poison and some radioactive material, that material will eventually decay causing the bottle of poison to smash and kill the poor kitty cat. The theory being: until you open the box to check, you don’t know if the cat is dead: therefore, the cat is both dead and alive at the same time.

If this theory sounds bullshitty to you, you’re not wrong. The theory was created by Schrödinger to “illustrate the flaws with  the ‘Copenhagen interpretation’ of quantum mechanics, which states that a particle exists in all states at once until observed“. Schrödinger disagreed with his colleagues (slash arch-enemies) who were pushing this theory as truth, so created the allegory of the cat to prove what dunces he thought they were.

So when I saw Claudia Gray attempting to use this theory to legitimize her fucked-up dimension travelling logic, I could have facepalmed with my Kindle. I honestly wondered if it was some sort of joke, but after re-reading the passage several times and comparing it to the shit she has pulled with her other explanations, I’m pretty sure she was serious. Gray, if you want to use the Copenhagen interpretation to explain why your dimension jumper characters become “unobservable”, that’s fucking fine. Don’t use the goddamn parody created to PROVE THAT THEORY WRONG!

Nevertheless, I carried on reading. I hadn’t seen any dimension leaps yet, and I was sure they were going to be good. Remember Family Guy‘s dimension leaping episode? Remember Red Dwarf‘s? They were brilliant, and that’s what I thought A Thousand Pieces of You was going to be like. The creative possibilities are truly endless.

In total, Marguerite jumps to four different dimensions.

1. A world where she lives in London because her family all died. This London is exactly the same as our London, only we all have holographic smartphone wristwatches with tracking technology and you can electrify an attacker with a ring. That’s it.

2. A world where technology didn’t advance so quickly and her mother’s ancestors never immigrated from Russia so for some reason now she’s a Russian princess for no other reason than it would be cool to be a princess. That’s it.

3. A world where literally everything is the same but her dad is alive.

4. A world where the sea levels rose faster than our world so she lives underwater & her family are oceanologists and still alive.

There is literally nothing else.

Where’s the imagination?! Where did the potential go?! What happened to my perfect expectation of dazzling, intricate and clever dimensions?

These new worlds really just focused on how Marguerite’s life was different, and didn’t give a crap about the rest of the world. And that wouldn’t be so bad if they were remotely interesting. I’m reminded of the film Bedazzled, wherein Brendan Fraser continues to make deals with the devil to change his life, and he goes through some brilliant changes in identity that lead to hilarity as the devil keeps screwing him over.

309823146d9e082334f1494036599be6-0That is how you do it, but do we get that? Fuck no. The only new life which was even slightly interesting was when Marguerite ended up a Russian princess. And even that was crossing a line. A princess? Really? Why is that grandeur necessary? Plus, why on earth isn’t she obsessed with finding out how, in this reality, she’s fucking royalty? The only “explanation” we get is that her mum’s ancestors were Russian. THAT IS IT. Not Russian royalty, not important Russians, just Russians. I swear, the only reason she added the princess element was for the romantic subplot involving a royal guard, who just so happens to be the alternate version of the guy who she believes killed her dad. Who she’s also in love with. Because why not add a forbidden love element to the already transcendental love element you’ve already got going on? Awww they keep finding each other in alternate universes. How fucking poetic and not at all a rip-off of Cloud Atlas. Oh and there’s a love triangle, because the forbidden transcendental love story wasn’t epic enough. No, these two have to put all other couples to shame.

I just can’t with this novel. I can’t. I’m so disappointed. I’m so sad about it all. No glorious alternate universes, no clever changes of identity, just a romp through reality having to endure naive little Marguerite not giving a shit about stuff that should be important and awkwardly flirting with two men. The plot would have been fine (aside from the plothole-ish ending) if it wasn’t completely overshadowed with unfulfilled potential and an unnecessary obsession with the love story. It’s a miracle I didn’t mind the characters, otherwise you’d be in for another paragraph ranting about how shit they were. They were developed enough for me not to have a problem with them, I’ll say that. Though Marguerite’s incessant pop culture references really grated my cheese.

“Conley gets this look on his face, like I’m so cute, like a GIF of baby puppies or something.”

This book failed on every level for me. It was a book I had such high hopes for and it pissed in the face of every last one, leaving me wishing I had been born in a dimension where this piece of shit had never been written.


TL;DR

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Rating
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Recommended For
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One Word Review
Disappointment

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Gif Summary Of Reading Experience

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3 Comments

Filed under Reviews

3 responses to “Review of A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

  1. sdf

    Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article.
    I’ll be sure to bookmark it and come back
    to read more of your useful info. Thanks for the post. I will definitely comeback.

    Like

  2. Arachne

    Hi, there. I just found your blog and I have to say, you’re a life saver. I was planning to buy this series because the premise is so interesting. Interdimensional traveling story with a dose of mystery? Sign me up! But from your review, I think it would be the best to just remove it from my reading list. Such a waste of potential. I thought this would have an awesome world building and sci-fi elements since the author wrote a book for Star Wars. Thanks for this wonderful post. I’ll check the rest of your blog out.

    Like

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