Friday 31 October 2014


Book review: A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

My edition: Paperback, to be published on 6 November 2014 by HarperCollins, 357 pages.

Description: Marguerite Caine's physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite's father is murdered, the killer—her parent's handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can't let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul's guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father's death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.


Marguerite Caine hasn't inherited a natural ingenuity for science, instead she has a passion for painting and the arts. But when her brilliant physicist parents reveal their latest invention, Marguerite is soon pulled into a dangerous game which is a direct result of their breakthrough scientific research. Not only do the older Caine's discover that there are universes running parallel to our own - some only minimally different from what we're used to, others futuristically advanced - but they invent the Firebird; a nifty little device which allows the wearer to jump from one dimension into the next.

While it is theoretically possible to move between the various alternate universes, no-one has actually trialled the Firebird yet, for as far as the Caine's are aware at least. But when Marguerite's dad is thought to be murdered by his assistant Paul, who in turn is believed to have fled their dimension to safer grounds where he isn't wanted, they forcefully discover the possibilities at the heart of the invention and Marguerite too has to take a leap of faith to try and uncover the truth behind her father's death.

When I read the blurb for this novel I expected a fun Sliders-type story aimed at the YA market, but A Thousand Pieces of You is far more richly written than that. Visiting 'just' three dimensions alternate to the one main character Marguerite lives in, there was plenty of opportunity to explore them in-dept and author Claudia Gray layered each one with fascinating differences and detail, creating a total of four worlds that all sounded highly imaginative and original and which provided a host of exciting options to delve even further into their design in future instalments of the series.

For a while the majority of dystopian/sci-fi young adult novels I read were very similar in substance; mimicking the themes of frontrunners such as The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner, but not quite reaching those heights and inevitably feeling both same-y and inferior. It was almost as if the genre had been exhausted of original ideas, which sounds neigh impossible considering the wealth of imaginative opportunities a sci-fi or dystopian world can provide but it certainly seemed like we'd reached that stage.

Thankfully, a few years down the line from the initial YA dystopian hype, authors are not quite as intent on copying popular series written before them to try to ride the wave of fame and suddenly a whole slew of ingeniously different stories aimed at the adolescent market have emerged. I've been thoroughly impressed with some of the recent young adult novels I've had the privilege to review and A Thousand Pieces of You in particular has been a revelation.

It is still not common to come across a female protagonist within the genre, especially a strong and independent one who isn't hung up on a guy (though there are romantic undertones within this novel it isn't the focus) and so it was refreshing to read about the excellently written Marguerite, who has a Russian background which is another factor not often present in YA books.

As mentioned before, the world building is fantastic too with each dimension well-established and with some incredibly interesting futuristic ideas at the core that aren't that far removed from where we are today. And with a healthy dose of twists and turns, the story also keeps the reader on the edge of his or her seat.

For a novel that was so strong and inventive throughout, it doesn't come as a surprise that the ending too was very solid. Rather than having a tedious blatant open ending leaving the reader gasping for any answers at all, it provided plenty of explanations to be both satisfying to those spending hours emerged in A Thousand Pieces of You while simultaneously providing a wealth of new questions to keep the reader craving more. Well played, Claudia Gray. Well played.

You can pre-order the novel from Waterstones, or your own preferred retailer.

Would you like to know more about the author? You can connect with her online at:



Twitter: @claudiagray

Many thanks to the publisher for an advance copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

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