Cover Image: The Space Between Worlds

The Space Between Worlds

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Every dimension-hopping technology needs a gimmick. The tech Cara uses has a big limited: you can only travel to a dimension where the alternate version of yourself is dead. And if they're still alive, very soon, YOU won't be.

Cara is good at one thing: dying. She's died in nearly every universe her company, the Eldridge Institute, has discovered. Few finish growing up in Ashtown, and now that dimension hopping has given her a chance to live in safe, comfy Wiley City, Cara will do anything to stick around.

I read this (via a review copy provided by the publisher) in preparation for voting in the Hugo awards. And while this book was enjoyable at the end, the setup takes FOREVER. Yes, there's some sprinkling of Checkov's guns all about, but it's a SPRINKLING. There's a lot of trips between places, getting little tidbits of plot and the underlying conspiracy, but it's a trickle. So, I'm afraid it did end up a bit far down on my ranked voting. But, it is ranked, so who knows!
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Great concept, needs additional worldbuilding and introductory material - seems confusing at times regarding the characters and relationships between them
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4 Stars - Dark and gritty with great writing

Cara traverses the multiverse for a living, being one of few people very suitable for this job because she is dead on most of the other versions of Earth that can be visited. Because coming to a world where one already exists ends rather deadly - the universe doesn't like that kind of redundancy, apparently. The reason why Cara is pretty rare on other worls is because she did not grow up in the privileged city but in Ashtown on its outskirts, where life is hard (as are its inhabitants), the environment poisonous and laws are made by the reigning warlord.

It is this juxtaposition of Cara, who has grown up in a very harsh world, trying to make it in the squeaky clean, rich and shiny world that pays her bills that provides the foundation for the story. Who wouldn't want to earn the right to stay forever in a place where the sun, the plants, the soil, the warlord won't kill you eventually. And while this is science fiction on the surface, it is at heart a deep look into privilege, racism, ineqality and into how the circumstances in which you grow up make you the person who you are.
The setting of "The Space Between Worlds" is post-apocalyptic and it's really dark and truly gritty. Maybe a bit too dark for my personal taste when I was rather in the mood for something lighter, but that is hardly something I can blame the book for.

The writing I loved: it is beautiful and very sharp and this one is definitely on the literary side of the genre. The worldbuilding makes you work a little bit for piecing the bits of information together but it is by no means inaccessible. The plot isn't simple or straightforward and does meander a bit, but I thought that the pacing worked really well and enjoyed how the narrative unfolded. There were several unexpected developments for me and I always wanted to know how things would continue. The second half picked up in speed for me, or maybe I had just become used to the dark tone by then.

Oh, and I really want to give a shout out to the beautiful and very fitting cover!

Actually, this was on my TBR anyway, so I was very happy to receive a review copy from Random House via NetGalley. In any case, this is my honest opinion which I provide voluntarily, thank you very much!
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I received this as part of the 2022 Hugo Awards Voter's Packet.  I am thankful that the publisher gave us a copy of the novel so that I am able to be a fully informed voter.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and will be looking forward to Micaiah Johnson's next book.
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Hugo adjacent, nominated for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. I've heard many good things about this novel, for a while now, so when it showed up on the Hugo list for the adjacent award it was a no-brainer to read. I expected world hopping and the Sliders-esque feel to travelling different dimensions, but there was far more too. Privilege vs need. How straddling two worlds can leave you feeling a stranger to both. The roadblock of assumptions. Nature vs nurture. Strong characters and fantastic worldbuilding. Lots of deep thoughts wrapped in a Mad Max/Cyberpunk dressing. Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy!
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I honestly don't remember even getting this book. I don't normally open these types of books, so I thought I'd open my mind to it. It was very hard to grasp and understand for my taste. Which doesn't mean it's a bad book, just wasn't right for me.
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I really enjoyed the Space Between Worlds. I liked how the book read like a mix between dystopian novels and sci-fi. There is a great comparison between the wealthy and those who have nothing. Cara is a very likable character, and I rooted for her throughout.
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What a unique book. The premise engaged me and the twist was unexpected, although looking  back it was well laid out. This is a book that I will definitely be recommending to friends and family.
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This was just plain odd. It felt like a poorly edited book that came after The Hunger Games hype. I do not recommend this one for purchase.
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I have been trying so hard to get out of my book comfort zone and thought this book would be a great one to do that since I don’t read much syfi.  I honestly wanted to like it. But I just couldn’t get into it.  Just because I didn’t like this book doesn’t mean it’s not the perfect book for someone else.
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The Space Between Worlds is a type of SF that focuses more on social issues, mainly  the divide between the privileged and the impoverished– the multiverse worlds building is an excuse for our protagonist to travel between the haves and have nots.  Cara was born in Ashtown, which is basically a shanty town. She had a tough life and died young. But having died she gained the ability for interdimensional travel. Now between missions she lives in the affluent city with her handler, Dell, for whom she harbors feelings. There are many good things about this thought provoking book, but there were some issues with the pacing and the flow that bothered me along the way. Hence the 4 stars. 
Thank you Netgalley and Crown for giving me this arc in exchange for an honest review.
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The Space Between Worlds puts a new spin on a familiar SF idea – travel to parallel worlds – by combining it with a stratified class structure. The Eldridge Institute, using a machine invented by its founder Adam Bosch, sends people to parallel worlds, but travelers can normally only go to a world where their counterpart is already dead. This rules out most of those living in Wiley City, with its vaccines, low childhood morality, and easy living. So the travelers who can visit the most parallel worlds are those who grew up on the wrong side of the wall, whose families never had enough food, who lacked access to medical care, and faced the constant threat of violence – in other words the poor. These traversers copy data from the other worlds and bring it back to help the rich get even richer. They also bring resources from other worlds.

Cara, the narrator and main character, has had so many brushes with death that she can visit 372 of the 380 parallel Earths. She grew up poor, in a one room shack in an Ash-town in the wastelands outside the walls of Wiley City and in many worlds died because she was in the way. So she jumped at the chance to live in rich Wiley City and have a chance at citizenship even knowing she would be despised for her origins. She has a love-hate relationship with her handler, Dell, with whom she flirts constantly but thinks she cannot have a real relationship since Dell is from a rich Wiley City family. Her mentor tries to get her to study to become an analyst since the company is working on remote data methods that would make tranversers obsolete.

Early in the book, Cara reveals to the reader that she is not the original Cara from this world, but was born on another Earth, where she was Emperor of the Wastelands Nik Nik’s concubine until she met the dying original Cara on her first inter-dimensional trip. Eager to escape Nik Nik, she secretly took her alternate self’s place and believes no one knows the truth, although her sister suspects since the new Cara is much nicer to her. 

Gradually, she learns that her company’s new product is not a way of accessing other worlds’ data remotely, but a way to open up the worlds to tourism by the rich, without being limited to worlds where their other selves are dead. But Cara discovers that the limitation still exists and the Eldridge Institute plans on murdering the tourists’ counterparts on other Earths so the Earth zero version could travel there. This leaves Cara with a moral dilemma especially when she learns the truth about Adam Bosch.

The real strength of the book is not the inter-dimensional traveling, but the sharp division between the haves and have nots. The author has invented a plausible reason for Cara, from the lowest of the low, to interact with both the rich elite of Wiley City and the criminal emperors of the Wasteland. Cara is a fascinating character with the strengths of a survivor who refuses to be a victim so the reader understands why she is willing to lie and deny who she is in order to stay in Wiley City and then cheers for her when she makes the decision to risk everything to do the right thing.

I recommend the book for any reader who likes a little social commentary mixed with an interesting story.
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I absolutely loved this book!

I'm a sucker for sci-fi stories where there are parallel worlds or a multi-verse, so that was super fun!
There's practically no homophobia/queerphobia in this world (multi-verse?) so that was awesome!
I love our main character, Cara, and her "watcher", Dell. (I would totally read a book told from Dell's perspective!)

The book opens with this quote from a different book:
“In the far reaches of an infinite cosmos, there’s a galaxy that looks just like the Milky Way, a solar system that’s the spitting image of ours,w/a planet that’s a dead ringer for earth, a house that’s indistinguishable from yours, inhabited by someone who looks just like you, who is right now reading this book and imagining you, in a distant galaxy, just reaching the end of this sentence-Brian Greene, The Hidden Reality"

Other Quotes that pack a punch:

"The universe erases me, but it also remakes me again and again, so there must be something worthwhile in this image."

“The multiverse isn't just parallel universes accessible through science. They are in each of us, a kaleidoscope made of varying perceptions.”

Goodreads' synopsis:
"An outsider who can travel between worlds discovers a secret that threatens her new home and her fragile place in it, in a stunning sci-fi debut that’s both a cross-dimensional adventure and a powerful examination of identity, privilege, and belonging.

Multiverse travel is finally possible, but there’s just one catch: No one can visit a world where their counterpart is still alive. Enter Cara, whose parallel selves happen to be exceptionally good at dying—from disease, turf wars, or vendettas they couldn’t outrun. Cara’s life has been cut short on 372 worlds in total.

On this Earth, however, Cara has survived. Identified as an outlier and therefore a perfect candidate for multiverse travel, Cara is plucked from the dirt of the wastelands. Now she has a nice apartment on the lower levels of the wealthy and walled-off Wiley City. She works—and shamelessly flirts—with her enticing yet aloof handler, Dell, as the two women collect off-world data for the Eldridge Institute. She even occasionally leaves the city to visit her family in the wastes, though she struggles to feel at home in either place. So long as she can keep her head down and avoid trouble, Cara is on a sure path to citizenship and security.

But trouble finds Cara when one of her eight remaining doppelgängers dies under mysterious circumstances, plunging her into a new world with an old secret. What she discovers will connect her past and her future in ways she could have never imagined—and reveal her own role in a plot that endangers not just her world, but the entire multiverse."
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Kara straddles many worlds. She grew up in a religious sect in a Mad Max-like community of have-nots, but now lives in the domed city of the haves. Her job is jump between universes and gather data. Navigating all of these worlds can be brutal, both physically and psychologically. They always leave bruises.
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If you’re looking to read more sci-fi books then pick this one up. It’s well written, a bit slow which I need for this genre because it’s not one I read often . I loved the main character and also the jumping to different universe was exciting for me.
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Interesting premise, but the world-building wasn't clear enough for me to feel truly invested. I wanted more from the story.
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Thank you so much to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine for providing me with a free ebook in exchange for my honest review!

Let me just preface this by saying I went into this knowing very little because I KNEW I would love it. So when I read in the first chapter that it was a book about the multiverse and people were able to traverse them I was hooked. For the first few chapters, I was indeed bored, but as soon as we got to a huge revelation about Caramenta's life and being I couldn't stop reading from there. So if you're reading this and the first few chapters seem dull, give it a few more and see how invested the plot twists make you.

We meet a character absolutely selfish and fighting for their well-being, and it honestly is off-putting. I wanted to know more about how this person ended up valuing their benefit so strongly over others, and learn I did. Because many of Cara's character traits that seem offputting at first glance made so much sense once put in perspective with her character arc. The author did such a good job making a believable character reaction to her awful situation, I don't know if anything different would have felt right. Of course, Cara would value self-preservation at the point we meet her, and we get to go on her character arc in this book. 

What really threw me off though was how free form the plot was, which after having read it all I believe is what best fits how to tell this story. But for a long, while we had no real end goal, we had just met these characters and we're going along on a ride with them. Slowly at after the mid-way point, things get set in motion and then is when we get our end goal. Once I learned to let go of reaching for an overarching plot and just enjoyed this ride with these characters I really started enjoying this book. Without getting into spoilers, there were many molar dilemmas and genuinely awful situations presented to our characters and we got to see all their reactions and what consequences their actions had.

If you enjoy sci-fi books with a darker theme and don't mind some gore, I would definitely recommend this book!
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This world(s) building was SO COOL. What a neat premise. And good good romance too! I would read a whole lot more in this world.
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I'm a bit of a fan of physics and multiverse theory so obviously this book was an amazing journey
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Basically the physical theory of the multiverses says that if there was a great explosion that created this universe there could be several and that the physical reactions could be varied creating different universes between them.
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The book explores the idea that these multiverses are in the same fabric of space-time and that they find the way through frequencies and vibrations to travel between them , obeying as the main rule that you can only enter that other world if your dopelganger is dead.
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The protagonist of the story is an expert traveler between worlds since out of 380 worlds she is only alive in less than ten. Cara does not expect that in this world that opens the doors for her for the first time her dopelganger is alive.
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This new world poses a completely different reality from the others and reveals secrets that change the reality of her own world.
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This book is a masterpiece, beautifully written with phrases that the reader can take with them forever. With a plow twist at each turn of the page, it seems incredible to me that it has so few pages and that no one has decided to take this story into a movie.
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Trigger warning, it deals with issues of domestic abuse, drug use, racial and social class discrimination, but it has characters with lgtbq + representation and the relationship of some characters is so pure and close that it softens the edges so the story can be highly  enjoyed
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It is a book with a dystopian world, lgtbq+ characters, large corporations, a bloody emperor and journey between worlds so beautiful written
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Thanks to Micaia Johnson and Random House Publishing Group for give me a copy of this amazing book in exchange for my honest opinion
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The Space Between Worlds wasn't at all what I'd expected...and I loved every second of reading it! I always looked forward to when I could pick this book back up and continue reading! Cara and Dell will stick with me, as great characters tend to do! It's definitely on my list to add to my personal collection, and I plan on asking the person in charge of ordering for this particular collection if we may add it to our library's shelves as well!
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