Ten Thousand Skies Above You

This is a special book that I’ve been waiting to read for over a year, so you can just imagine how high my anticipation for it was. After reading the first novel in the trilogy, A Thousand Pieces of You, for the first time last year and a second a few weeks ago, I couldn’t wait to dive on the its sequel, Ten Thousand Skies Above You. I was a little put off after rereading the first novel and finding it not quite as good as I remembered, but I still looked forward and hoped that the sequel would hold for my anticipation. It did, unfortunately, fall a little short.

After traveling through a few dimensions with her parent’s device, the Firebird, Marguerite Caine returns to her own world with Paul and her father, to set things straight. Having jumped after Paul in the belief that he murdered her father, Marguerite now knows that Paul only tried to save her and her family and that her father was locked away in another self in a very different dimension. The real problem was the company funding her parent’s research – Triad, and their CEO Wyatt Conley. Now Marguerite and her family are going to fight back against Triad, but they have no idea how much fight they will have to put in. Or exactly how dirty Conley is going to play.

It’s been three months since Marguerite returned to her dimension with newfound knowledge in not just herself and the people around her, but also in dimension traveling and ethics. Before she started traveling, Triad made her into a perfect traveler, one that can go anywhere in dimensions featuring themselves without needing a reminder to not lose track of themselves. This was intentional as Conley has a scheme in which he wants to use Marguerite. But she says no, along with her family and Paul. To make Marguerite change her mind, Conley takes Paul and splinters his soul in four pieces which he shatters in four different dimensions for Marguerite to find. If she agrees to do his dirty work for him, namely, destroy her parent’s Firebird research in two different dimensions, he will give her the coordinates for the final dimension containing a piece of Paul. What Marguerite does not know is how far deeper Conley’s scheme goes. Further still, than beyond her worst nightmare.

Claudia Gray takes us on some ride in the second Firebird novel – to a San Francisco in war and a New York with very dangerous underground gangs all the way to Paris where Marguerite encounters a big secret her other self is keeping and then back around to a world where you’re only as powerful as the company you work for. In every world Marguerite meets Paul and Theo, her parent’s research assistants and her boyfriend and friend, respectively. It seems like destiny, always meeting, always getting together with Paul, always being in love with him. But the more Marguerite travels the more she realizes that destiny does not mean that she and Paul will be together. For every trip taken, Marguerite questions her relationship with Paul and the probability of always being in love with him. Whatever happens on her trip, Marguerite will never be the same again.

I really wanted to love this, but I didn’t. I jumped between annoyance at both the story and the main character, and kind of liking it. Maybe I’m too old for this, because despite being eighteen, Marguerite seemed childish and naïve for me. Paul is her first love and she believes with all her heart that they will be together, not just for the rest of their life, but also in every single dimension out there. Every single one where both of them lives, she expect them to be together. Which is strange, since we learned in the first novel that a new dimension pops up for every choice you make. So, logically speaking, shouldn’t there be dimensions where she didn’t choose him? Or he her? Theo is in love with Marguerite as well yet she’s surprised when she finds a world where they’re together, because she doesn’t believe she would ever choose him. And this is what annoyed me very much, Marguerite's unfailing belief that every one of her was exactly the same as her. Even though she saw differences between them, she still believed they all thought like she did. They didn’t, I hadn’t expected them to and I saw it quite early, but Marguerite held fast on this for a long time. An annoyingly long time.

Besides Marguerite’s belief she also did a lot of things that made me frown and though she didn’t seem to think it was okay to hijack someone else’s body (which they do when traveling with the Firebird, since only your conscious moves and thus jumps into that dimension’s version of you) but she still kept doing it. She said it was to save Paul, but at times I questioned if she realized just how awful it must’ve been for the Marguerites’ that she took over.

The love triangle between her, Paul and Theo was at times interesting and at times too much. Maybe I would’ve enjoyed it more if Marguerite’s ranting about destiny and always ending up with Paul hadn’t taken over so much of the story and annoyed me to the brink of crazy annoyed. I do, however, really like Theo’s character. I found him intricate and I loved exploring him throughout the different dimensions. Characters that often popped up, like Marguerite’s mother, father and sister Josie, didn’t seem all that deep, especially not Josie. They all lacked something, some kind of depth, and I missed it very much when reading.

It felt like the novel consisted of a lot of mix-ups and stupid and unnecessary fights. Marguerite says that every version of you isn’t the same as you and yet believe that every version of her is fated to fall in love with Paul. She says she doesn’t blame Theo for what another version of Theo did to her, even though she clearly still feels uncomfortable around him. After encountering a moment with Paul were she sees a new side of him she starts to wonder if that evil lurking in other versions of you is in you as well. Despite all this she gets very surprised finding out that there is a dimension were an evil Marguerite exists. What saved Marguerite for me was that she usually saw how wrong she’d been earlier and apologized or took back what she’d said or thought. She was able to see the wrong within herself and to acknowledge it and I applaud that because a lot of characters doesn’t.

The book definitely didn’t lack action. At times I almost thought it was too much of it. What is interesting is how Gray keeps leaving hints for the reader to pick up on for things to happen in the future. I loved reading and finding something that I thought might reemerge again later, only for it to do so in a spectacular way. Hats off for Gray for that!

Overall, it’s a nice book and a good series, but it’s not as good as I had hoped. It lacks something and combined with a protagonist that spends a lot of time annoying me and a little bit too much action happening all around, I was left disappointed. It ended awful (not as in “an awful way” but as in “it made me feel awful”) but the ending itself was both interesting and something that will make me pick up the third novel. I just hope that it gets better and ends on a high.

A Thousand Pieces of You

I read Claudia Gray’s A Thousand Pieces of You for the first time last year and in anticipation of the sequel (which came out November 3) I wanted to reread it to get my memory a little fresh on all the things that happened. What struck me most when reading it now was how different it felt from the first time I read it. It's been a year, and I thought good things about it since, but it seemed to have changed from what I remembered. It was still good, just not as good as I recall.

Marguerite is the only member in a family of four who is not invested in science. Both her parents and her older sister are extremely smart, but Marguerite prefers drawing to equations. Her mother and father has, together with two assistants, Theo and Paul, managed to build a device called the Firebird, which allows people to travel through dimensions. Marguerite is proud of what the people she love has accomplished, but she doesn’t pay much attention to it since she has trouble following in the heavy science talk. But now that it turns out that Paul not only erased her parents data and stole the only working Firebird, but also killed her father and fled into another dimension to hide, Marguerite realizes that all those things that she didn’t pay attention to at the dinner table is applying to her. Because Theo has manage to rebuild two Firebirds and together with him, Marguerite leaps after Paul into another world, to catch her father’s killer. But while she’s living the life of different versions of herself, Marguerite slowly realizes that what happened to her dad wasn’t quite what it seemed at first.

This is a very interesting novel, not only talking about crossing different dimension (and getting to experience many different lives) but also about right or wrong. Marguerite wants revenge for what Paul did to her father, but can she kill a man, even though he is a killer himself? She also realizes that jumping into another dimension (and taking the place of that dimensions version of you, which means you share that versions body but their subconscious is something like sleeping while you're "in charge", rather than having two of you walking around at the same time) is violating for the person being taken over. Marguerite has to make a lot of choices and decisions which she, basically, steals from the current dimension’s version of herself. This was something that annoyed me while reading, but I liked that Marguerite at least was aware of this fact herself.

I can’t quite put a finger on why I didn’t like this as much as I remember doing or what felt a little off. What you could’ve changed to make it go from good to great. Maybe because, despite being very interesting from a science perspective, it’s still quite fluffy. It is, at the core, a love story, almost bordering on a love triangle. A big part of the novel was centered around this and I wasn’t entirely comfortable with it since I couldn’t remember it being such a big part of the novel the first time I read it. It is clear that I see the story with new eyes now, that I have grown and changed in the past year, and it is interesting seeing how your perspective changes in just a year. I am a little disappointed however, but I hope that the sequel, Ten Thousand Skies Above You, will make me feel better about the series overall. I do recommend A Thousand Pieces of You to people interested in multiverse, but I advise you to not have the highest expectations when starting it.

Harry Potter & the philosopher's stone

As most people my age, I've read Harry Potter for years. But now that I am a little older I've come to a frightening realization. I’ve always thought that I could go back to the books and reread them again and again and they’ll be as good now as they were the first time I read them. But during Harry Potter and the philosopher's stone I noticed how I’ve grown and maybe even grown away from the story.

Now, don’t take this as a “I’m too old for this” or a “I won’t read this books ever again” because neither is true. Well, not really, at least. I read the fifth novel, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, this summer and it sat perfectly well with me. But this first novel, Harry Potter and the philosopher's stone, felt too small for me. For the first time I realized that while the story is timeless, I am growing.

In this, the first part of Harry Potter's journey to meet and hopefully defeat the evil wizard Lord Voldemort, Harry’s story starts, not in the wizard world, but in a very normal neighborhood in Surrey, England. Orphaned boy Harry lives with his aunt, uncle and cousin but after turning eleven and finding out that he’s a wizard he starts attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It isn’t until then that he finds out the truth about his parent’s death, the truth about the lightning shaped scar on his forehead and the truth about who he really is. After befriending Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, Harry sets out to investigate the castle they live in and to keep an eye on that strange potion teacher who seems to be after something hidden somewhere inside the school.

I noticed more than once that the language was too childish for me and the overall feeling the book gave me was more irritation then actual interest. I’ve both read it before, more than once, as well as seen the movie, so it wasn’t a surprise what lay in store for Harry and his friends. Despite that I found the book, not bad, but certainly not quite for me anymore. It is, with a heavy heart, that I realized that I have outgrown the earlier parts of Harry’s story. I’m sure I will return to it in the future nonetheless, but it will be a while before I pick up the novel again.