A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray | Magan Reviews

Book Review of A Thousand Pieces of  You by Claudia Gray

 

A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird #1) by Claudia Gray (website | twitter)
Publication Date: November 4, 2014
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 368
Target Audience: Young Adult Fiction
Keywords: parallel universes, time travel, death of a parent
Format Read: ARC received from the Publisher. (Thank you!)

Summary: Marguerite seeks answers about her father’s death and travels between parallel universes using the Firebird, the device her parent’s created that make such travel possible, in search of his suspected murderer.

Marguerite is the artist in a family of award-winning physicists. When her father dies and her parent’s assistant, Paul, takes off looking like the most obvious suspect, she has no choice but to emerge herself in her parent’s scientific world to find answers. Even if that involves learning how to use the Firebird, the device her parents created that allows her to jump to alternate dimensions. Marguerite has always felt like her parent’s assistants were adopted family members and there were these inexplicable moments she had with Paul that make her wonder how she could have been so fooled.

The strongest component of A Thousand Pieces of You is seeing Marguerite take a crash course in survival and physics to seek answers. Essentially with a turn of the Firebird, Marguerite finds herself in a parallel universe where the people she knows and is familiar with exist, but things can range from being ever-so-slightly altered to feeling centuries behind technologically. When she takes over another Marguerite’s body, she has to quickly adapt to her surroundings so she can cleverly figure out where Paul is located and when the proper time is to move on to the next place.

There are elements of a great chase paired with this very mysterious relationship between Marguerite and Paul. Her search is for more than closure and justice, but it’s a sweet, wild ride to see how Paul and Marguerite’s story morphs through each dimension. It’s a beautiful, tangled mess of cat-and-mouse paired with a confusing “what-if” love story as we flash back to learn about Paul and Marguerite before her father’s death. There’s a huge internal struggle to believe that Paul couldn’t have done something so destructive and devastating, but when all evidence points to him, how can it be denied? I absolutely loved how complex and intelligent the storyline was, but how the majority of the story focused on the simplest question: What lengths will we go to for the people we love? 

A Thousand Pieces of You is my first Claudia Gray book, and I’m incredibly anxious to get my hands on more of her work and to see where the rest of this story goes.

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Estelle: All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill: September 2013 book release from Disney HyperionAll Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Pages: 368
Target audience: Young adult
Genre: Science fiction
Keywords: time travel, politics, best friends, romance
Format read: eBook from NetGalley via Publisher. (Thanks!)

Summary: Em and Finn have run out of all possible options when it comes to destroying a time machine that they know has made the world a dark and dismal place. All Our Yesterdays alternates between past and present as the two converge together to bring truths (the painful and the triumphant) to love, friendship, and the future of the world.

In order to prepare yourself for reading All Our Yesterdays, I suggest you 1) have a book buddy on hand who has read it before you (Sasha from Sash and Em was mine) because you are going to have a lot to WTF about and 2) an undisclosed amount of time (even if it is on a street corner near your grocery store) to read this book as close to straight through as you can.

There are very few things I can say here without revealing too much of the brilliant plot secrets contained within this book. What I will tell you is this: there is a Dawson/Joey/Pacey vibe rooted in this story, it’s okay to reread paragraphs until you understand the smallest of details because Terrill has intricately (and painstakingly) made her story feel so real even down to the most scientific explanations, and third of all: your brain might explode a little bit because the emotional and physical impact of reading as two time periods are lined up and brought head-to-head? Hard to fathom.

Time is a funny thing. There are some of us that are so accepting of its whims, but there are others who are obsessed with the past. “If I could change one little thing, that tiny tiny thing, everything would be alright.” You’ve heard it before. I read about it previously in the fantastic 11/22/63 by Stephen King this year. Even though King’s book and Terrill’s are totally different, the sentiment felt similar to me and just as scary and just as heartbreaking. Because changing even one little thing, even if it makes it better for you, affects countless more than you can even imagine. So think about a machine that was created from the best intentions to change the world for the better and all of it just blowing up in your face; how a beautiful person can turn so ugly because of power and those good intentions.

Terrill has done an amazing job of telling such an epic story. All Our Yesterdays started a little slow for me and I wished there was more dialogue throughout the novel, but otherwise, it is completely addicting and so well plotted, that I’m anxious to reread it from the beginning and discover those details I may have missed the first time around. So even though science fiction isn’t a genre I frequent a lot, I know a good story is what is important when reading and THIS is a good story from all angles: the intrigue, the suspense, the romance, and the enormity of having the future of the world on your shoulders (whew, it makes me feel tense all over again just thinking about it).

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Estelle: Kissing Shakespeare by Pam Mingle

Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mingle
Publication Date: August 14, 2012
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Pages: 348
Target audience: Mature young adult
Keywords: time travel, plays, Shakespeare, religion, romance, fate, seduction, historical fiction
Format read: ARC from Netgalley. (Thanks!)

Summary: Miranda, a high school senior, is all set to follow in her thespian parents’ footsteps and attend Yale for drama in the fall. Or so she thinks. After (what she believes to be) a weak performance in Taming of the Shrew, she is ready to throw in the towel when out of nowhere, Stephen, another actor in the play, emerges and asks her the most unexpected (and weirdest) question: “How would you like to meet Shakespeare?” Before she knows it, Stephen has whisked her off to England circa 1581 to assist him in saving Shakespeare and the future of theatre and literature as we know it. Can Miranda handle the biggest role of her life?

Full disclosure: in the years since high school, my knowledge of England in the 1500s has slowly dissolved into dust particles. And geez, I could have really used it while reading Kissing Shakespeare. I knew historical fiction might be a challenge but it was the religious conflict in England that really threw me for a loop. From the book description, I had no idea it was going to take such precedence in the story. Religion is so imperative to Shakespeare’s future and while I applaud Mingle for attacking such a storyline, sometimes my lack of understanding on this subject slowed down my enjoyment of the book.

But let’s get to the good stuff. I was first interested in this title because of the theater! I’m a huge fan of plays and I can only imagine what it would be like to be given the opportunity to meet your idol in another century. Stephen could not have “coerced” Miranda to come along at this journey at a better time — Shakespeare needs her help and perhaps Miranda needs a little kick in the butt as well. I’m no expert on time traveling (are you?) but I did wish that Miranda would have been a bit funnier when they switched time periods — she was a dramatic girl (no surprise there) but the bits of sarcasm she does express would have been welcome in earlier parts of the book. (It took me about 138 pages to get into the story.)

As Stephen “casts” Miranda as his sister “Olivia” (anyone get the Shakespeare reference here?) — it is funny to see the cultural clashes between the two, and Miranda and the rest of the supporting characters. William is, of course, utterly charming but conflicted about his future. He wants to be a player but he also feels he should do his duty to the church. Jenett is a mysterious gal, crushing on William, and betrothed to an older man she has no desire to marry.  There are quite a few mini sub-plots swirling around KS and they did the job of softening the religious plot when situations got a bit too intense. That intensity, though, did grip me quite a bit in the second half of the book and I was anxious to see what would become of our characters and the future of Shakespeare’s work.

Not only did the subject matter surprise me, but so did the love story. Stephen is a dapper and intriguing young man, and I enjoyed getting to know him. Although his plan for saving Shakespeare? Don’t think he thought that one through. Ladies and gents, he wanted Miranda to do more than just KISS Shakespeare. He wanted her to sleep with him. I thought that was a tad presumptuous on his part, especially since Miranda was a virgin. (Is this commentary on teenage girls of today?) Again, I was shocked by her reactions to this “order” (and also the fact that protection in this century was not discussed?). I’m not sure if I would have treated it as lightly even if I felt I wanted to prove something (which I get, I’m totally competitive).

Thematically, I love the idea of fate and how one little thing can affect so many people and so many outcomes. How would our world be different if Shakespeare didn’t write his works? His influence goes far behind the stage and the classroom and that is completely evident in this story. In a smaller sense, how will Miranda’s life be shaped by this experience as well? You know her love story is only temporary, which saddened me; I kept hoping for a stroke of magic that would make everything come together… but I’m glad that Mingle decided to end her tale where she did.

Here’s my advice to you: even though Kissing Shakespeare is a longer YA novel, starts out slow, and isn’t the fluff you may be expecting, stick with it. The chemistry is hot, there are some funny and silly moments, and I felt a renewed sense of interest in Shakespeare and his life. (Did anyone remember he married a gal named Anne Hathaway? I had to do a double take when I read that!)

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