Marguerite Caine is on a mission of revenge. She has vowed to kill her father’s murderer and former protégé, Paul Markov. The main problem is figuring out which dimension he’s in. Marguerite’s mother proved the existence of other dimensions and together with Marguerite’s late father built the firebird technology that allows people to travel between them. Together with Theo, a PHD student working under her parents, Marguerite is determined to track down Paul and avenge her father’s death.
Sounds simple, right? Not so much. When Marguerite finds Paul, her certainty of his guilt starts to falter. It seems that her father’s death is part of a much more sinister plot in which Marguerite herself has a greater part than she ever knew.
I wanted to enjoy Claudia Gray’s A Thousand Pieces of You a lot more than I actually did. It wasn’t that there were any elements I outright hated, it’s that somehow this book and I lacked a connection.
First off, let’s go through the good stuff. The book takes place across four dimensions. Our own – pretty recognisable, if more technologically advanced (interdimensional travel), a future dimension (hover cars), old world-ey Russia and a post-climate change catastrophe world in which most people seem to live underwater.
Gray throws us right into the centre of the action. We enter the story at the point of Marguerite’s first jump into an alternate dimension, her grief totally eclipsing her ability to feel anything other than intense anger.
I enjoy playing catch up with characters and not having all the information. I don’t enjoy reading the final moments of the life of a character I already know from the blurb will be six feet under by the end of chapter two.
So far so good.
Marguerite’s exploration of the first futuristic dimension and the process of gathering information on the circumstances that led to her being there was interesting to read about. Theo and his flirtatiousness were pretty fun. The discovery that the situation with Paul wasn’t so simple intrigued me.
Then Marguerite and Paul arrive in nineteenth-century (or whenever) Russia, through a convoluted series of incidents that are slightly plot-holey lose their firebirds and therefore their ability to leave the dimension and are stuck there for a month. This portion of the book seriously drags. Marguerite decides that she is in love with the nineteenth-century Russia version of Paul (after like a week and a waltz. I can only assume he is an insanely great dancer) and this storyline really dominates the rest of the book. Even after they have left the dimension its ghost lingers, casting a dissatisfying shadow over the events following it.
It’s kind of like when you’re reading Jane Eyre and you skip over most of the St John part. Half way through, this book lost its Rochester.
From this point onwards the book limps toward its end, gradually gaining strength again the further it gets from the chill and bloodshed of the war torn Russian winter. By the time we reach the underwater dimension it has almost clawed its way back to being an interesting read. Almost.
Like I said, me and this book lacked a connection. I really don’t enjoy instant love. There is something exciting in that period of pre-relationship uncertainty I really miss when it’s skipped over. Plus I guess I’ve never managed to invest in couples who just tell me how much they care for each other (think Black Widow and Hulk in the last Avengers movie. What even was that?) Like my creative writing teachers always said, you have to show it to me. In this book, the weird instantaneous love was particularly disappointing because elsewhere Gray had done such a good job of developing relationships in a way that was totally believable.
A Thousand Pieces of You is the first in the firebird trilogy. Seeing as there is (spoiler alert!) little chance of Marguerite heading back to Russia any time soon, it might make a more interesting read.