Author: Anna Jarzab
Book #: 1st of Trilogy
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: October 8th 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Date Read: August 31st 2013
Rating: ★★★½ / out of 5
"The universe, he said, strives for harmony and balance. All that is born will someday die. Ashes to ashes. Things fall apart."
Sixteen-year-old Sasha Lawson has only ever known one small, ordinary life. When she was young, she loved her grandfather's stories of parallel worlds inhabited by girls who looked like her but led totally different lives. Sasha never believed such worlds were real--until now, when she finds herself thrust into one against her will.
To prevent imminent war, Sasha must slip into the life of an alternate version of herself, a princess who has vanished on the eve of her arranged marriage. If Sasha succeeds in fooling everyone, she will be returned home; if she fails, she'll be trapped in another girl's life forever. As time runs out, Sasha finds herself torn between two worlds, two lives, and two young men vying for her love--one who knows her secret, and one who thinks she's someone she's not.
(Synopsis taken from Goodreads)
Review: I received a free copy of this book for review.
I'm not going to sugar coat this or anything: I hated this book for the first 75%.
What I really loved, right from the start, is the science behind it all. While this concept of multiple universes is not original, it is my favorite. In the book A Crack in the Line by Michael Lawrence, every time a decision is made (down to what color shirt you decide to wear that day) the universes split and you get a world for each of your possible choices. Left or right? Yes or no? This is basically the idea that Tandem works with, and I loved it. I also loved how the extra ideas the author added to this concept. Your alternate self, or your double in another universe, is called your "analog". The author also created a great explanation of the system, which we see an example of on Loc 3069 of 5272 (Sorry guys, I don't have the page number! I was reading this on my kindle. I will find it when I buy the book).
Unfortunately, for most of the book, the story was too romantically dramatic, angst filled insta-love, with a way-too-gullible M.C. who makes poor decisions and cries a lot. The one love-interest, who Sasha has the more romantic feelings for, was too hot/cold in the beginning. He pulled the answer-questions-with-questions and you-can't-handle-the-truth things a lot and I honestly just wanted to smack him for the majority of this book. And, while with Juliana (Sasha's analog) it's really hard to point the finger at who's wrong in that situation, I couldn't help but not like her for running away from her problems (albeit we learn a lot more about her problems later on). The rest of the characters made little to no impression on me.
Bottom line: I just wasn't really feeling it with this one because of the characters and the story which, though I liked the science part, wasn't giving me any feelings of excitement and thrill.
But wait, there's more!
I'm not sure exactly where and when it happened, but it did. Sometime while read the last part of this book, I fell in love. I saw huge improvement in the characters (though Sasha still cries a lot, hell, I cry a lot too sometimes. Can't help it if we're overly emotional people, can we?) and the story took a couple of turns that, while I could have seen coming if I think about it now, I hadn't really paid attention to being possible in the beginning. We see where Thomas begins to draw the lines between duty and his morals. We also see more complexities behind the analogs, which I began to find fascinating in Sasha and Juliana's case.
My favorite development was what Sasha goes through. In the beginning of all this, she really hates her situation and just wants to go home to her normal life. In a way, she is very much like Juliana, who just wants to be free of her problems and have that normal life. However, as the story starts coming to a close, we see where Sasha and Juliana's motives shift and diverge. The winy, "woe is me" Sasha from the beginning of the story slowly disappears and we meet a more determined, selfless version of her former self. When Sasha gets her first, real opportunity to go home, she says this:
"I won't go! I cried, digging my nails into the fabric of this jacket. "Not until Juliana's back. There are other lives at stake here, not just ours"Juliana does wish that she could stop running away and be this better person, it is obvious that she can't. Unlike Sasha, who is beginning to mold into this situation and become determined to fix the problem, Juliana plainly admits that she just can't:
"I'm sorry," she repeated. She sounded like her heart was shattering. "I can't. I wish I was better, but I'm not."
Based on this evidence, I have a prediction that: (view spoiler)
Overall, while this was a tough journey for the most part, the end of this really left me hungry for more. Chapter 38!?!? Crazy stuff. I would recommend this book, but with caution. I really didn't like the characters for the most part, but their growth in the end made it almost worth it.
"What did she do?"
"She wept," Gloria said, her own eyes wet at the memory. "Like a child, she wept. And my heart broke for her, as it breaks for you now. You're both so young, and you have so much resting on your shoulders. The fate of an entire nation- two nations, in fact. It just seems so grossly unfair."
"I know this is hard for you," The queen continued. "But you have to believe that it's for the best. The past is the past, but the future is still worth preserving."
"Sometimes our names are chosen for us, and sometimes we choose our own."
It wasn't just that she didn't want to die. She wanted to live. And she could not call what she'd been doing for the pas sixteen- almost seventeen- years living. Her mother hadn't wanted her to be a flesh and blood mortal, but she was one, and she couldn't imagine another sixty years being a pawn in someone else's game.
"But you can't really protect people from anything, cal you?"
"If there's anything I learned from my mother, it's that power makes you just as vulnerable as it makes you strong. People want to use you for it, or take it from you, all the time."
"I didn't want to see that I was wrong, that I was capable of being wrong."
"We're all capable of being wrong," I whispered.
"There's more than one way to stop a war," he told me.
This was it. The vilest thing I've ever done was happening right before my eyes. But did it really matter? It was inevitable anyway.
Or was it?
"Stop!" I cried.
Thomas shook out his hand; his knuckles had taken quite a beating tonight. "Screw the General," he said.
I mad a face at him, and he returned it. God, I was glad he was alive.
For the moment, though, none of that mattered. He bent his head and kissed me deeply. I kissed him back. We kissed each other, sinking deeper and deeper into an unfathomable ocean straining toward infinity.
This was the part of love I hated, the pain of losing the person you wanted to keep more than anything in the whole world. All the worlds.
I didn't think I'd ever be all right. Not in a million years, not in an infinite number of lifetimes. But I had to go on. I couldn't give up. Thomas had risked his life to return me to mine, and I wasn't going to waste it.
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