Cover Image: The Space Between Worlds

The Space Between Worlds

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I Loved this book!  I am a huge science fiction nerd.  This 'reads' as science fiction with the world walking, or 'traversing' but at the same time you get all the grit of Ashtown and the severity of the Rurals. Wiley Town is held up, at least initially, as a sort of paradise, but it truly isn't - it just hides the ugly better. The fact that most of the traversers, 'disposable' people are PoC echoes and challenges our current realities. The Space is philosophical - how not to be when you're chasing worlds similar to our own, seeing multiple versions of those who surround us, for good or evil. The main character questions who she is, especially since she is masquerading as someone else. And for those who need a touch of romance - but only a touch - it's here too, in all it's 'I heard what she said, but what did she mean' fraught confusion.  Read this book!
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Have you ever read a book and been unable to form any thoughts whatsoever for the next couple of hours because it was absolutely brilliant? This was that book for me. It gripped me from page one and I couldn't stop reading until I reached the final page.

Complex Characters One Can't Help But Root For

Cara is a force to be reckoned with. She is a multilayered character with so much depth that it's so easy to forget she's a fictional character in a book. She is strong, driven, and a survivor. She is also a dreamer and as her mother puts it, "she was born reaching". Cara is a traverser, one of those few who get to travel parallel worlds and collect. Some would call it lucky but that's such an irony considering a traverser can only go to a world where their parallel self is dead; and Cara is dead in more than 350 worlds.

All of the characters were incredibly three dimensional, even Dell who seems so aloof and stony most of the time. The fact that there are many parallel universes makes it all the more interesting. Hundreds of variations of the same person, but having a slightly different life because of the choices they made. The characters were all incredibly diverse with the main character being Black and bisexual, plus there are multiple PoC characters, an f/f romance, and non binary secondary characters.

My favourite part about the book were all the different relationships and the sisterhood between Cara and Esther was a delight to read about. Esther is one of the best secondary characters I've ever read as she is strong in her quiet way, polite and kind, but also brilliant and ruthless when the need arises. She's the kind of person who will always be there for the people she loves, regardless of how hard it is.

I also adored the mentor/mentee relationship between Jean and Cara. Jean is the clever and understanding elderly uncle to Cara's turbulent and cheeky personality. He more than just taught her about traversing; he taught her to be human, to soften and show compassion, and at times to take a stand and fight back.

I will not say much about the romance so as to not give away anything, but I loved it. I loved the complex and rocky development of trust, the confusion, the heartache, and the slow burn which was frustrating in a really good way! It was so cleverly done and like a jigsaw puzzle that was slowly put together.

"We coexist, parallel but never touching, and if one of us goes too far, or if I ever get too close, the Eridanus Void opens between us. We both withdraw and leave a cold dark in the space we almost touched that three suns couldn't light."

Plot Twists That Will Take You For A Spin

Even though the main plot was a science fiction/dystopian thriller, the book also dealt with philosophical questions in a subtle way; how the smallest choices can make the biggest differences and how different situations shape us into different people.

This book surprised me in more ways than one. Just 9% into the book, the author quietly dropped a plot twist that shocked me. This continued throughout the book, at the best places, and plot twists were presented that made my head spin in the best way possible. There is foreshadowing too and I think I'll be reading the book again to pick up on those.

While the science fiction aspect of the story might be considered light by hardcore sci-fi lovers, I personally loved the explanations the author gives for how traversing works and the laws she puts forth. I also loved the spiritual aspect of how traversers believe it is Goddess Nyame who guides them across different universes, that it is she who they feel in that space between worlds. After reading the book, I looked it up and found out Nyame is the God of the Akan people of Ghana. I wonder if that is the mythology the author has drawn from.

Writing That Will Keep You Mesmerised

The writing is utterly brilliant and I couldn't stop marvelling at how simple yet powerful the writing was. The little paragraph at the beginning of each part comparing the way people of the scientific world and spiritual world saw things was so fascinating.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the subtle ways in which the author foreshadowed some twists; so subtle that you realise them for what they are only after you've see the twist. Both the fast paced plot and engaging writing is sure to keep readers at the edge of their seats as they read this book!

The Space Between Worlds is a story with multiverses and interdimensional travel, but it's also the story of one survivor, her people, and her lives across the multiverse. Micaiah Johnson beautifully brings these two together to give us a riveting story filled with adventures and emotions.
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Very interesting concept and world building. It was a little hard to get started but once you get going the story flows smoothly.
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How do you write a review where just about anything you say will be a spoiler?
You be generic I suppose...

First and foremost, this will probably be one of my favorite books of the year.

One of my biggest issues with time travel/parallel universes are the paradoxes. How do you reconcile them? Well, in The Space Between Worlds, Micaiah Johnson does a wonderful job and also handles the questions you don't even think to ask brilliantly. To begin with, you can only go to a world where you've already died, otherwise the universe tries to break you apart. And the worlds are numbered by the degrees of differences from the starting point (Earth Zero). So Earth 250 is much more different from Earth Zero than say Earth 10 is. Cara is dead on 372 of the 380 Earths they are able to travel to (it explains why they can't go farther than that). So she's a hot commodity and the one who travels most. When she discovers she's been murdered on one of the worlds previously closed to her, she discovers a plot that may destroy the whole multiverse. That's the basis of the story.

Cara is definitely a morally gray character. She's lived a troubled life and does what she needs to survive. She's been abused and used (trigger warning there) by multiple people in her life. She does bad things and very good things. What sets her apart I think is that she knows this about herself and struggles to come to terms with who that makes her as a person. Because of her extensive travel in the multiverse she also has to learn to reconcile that people aren't the same on each planet; they have different experiences and may not react the same from world to world. It is interesting to see her navigate through that.

All in all, I loved this book. The story, the characters (good and bad) were all very well done and I look forward to seeing what Micaiah Johnson writes next. Highly recommended for sci-fi buffs.
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I loved this book so much, it was one of those books that felt like it was written for me. It hit all my buttons: sci-fi, multiverses, elements of dystopia, social commentary, f/f romance. The characters were all so compelling, even the "bad guys," and the plot was perfectly paced. I can't tell you how good the worldbuilding was, it was SO GOOD. Now I'm just dying for a movie or miniseries. God this book is so good.
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Good but…

I wish I were one of Ms Johnson's beta readers because I have a few technical questions about the world hopping mechanism that, unanswered, capsize the novel for me. I’m not sure if I want to share these questions with you because if you don't ask these questions the book is pretty good.

If you are a person who reads deeply, thinking about how technical contrivances affect the way the story unfolds you will be unsatisfied here. If you can allow these kinds of questions wash over you then you will probably enjoy this book very much.
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WOW—just, WOW.
Who hasn’t mused how one’s life would’ve turned out if we took that job, moved to that place, stayed with that partner?
For Cara, her job lets her see hundreds of variations of her life. Unfortunately, given her rough and tumble background, hundreds of those versions die, making her the ideal candidate to traverse across universes without the agonizing death of backlash. Isn’t that the way for the downtrodden? To do the menial, distasteful and/or downright dangerous work others are too fortunate not to be drafted into?
I like my world building to be a little mysterious—doled out simply by the characters carrying on their usual conversations and actions. Endless exposition bores me. And the pathos of Cara’s life—no matter what paths her other selves take, she’s always entwined most of her lives with a warlord lover, a disapproving to the point of cruel mother, when she hasn’t died from addiction, a benefactor she grows wary of, and a woman she feels she can never have.
The writing is insightful and moving, pointing out the hypocrisy, the inequality, the cold hard reality of the endless hustle, where one is amazed to cheat death time again and again, but nevertheless knows that day is coming, a risk taken one too many times that has finally gone south, and will simply nod in respect and accept its cold, cruel embrace.
I highly recommend this book.
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Multiverse travel is possible, but people can only go to worlds where they don’t already exist. Cara’s other-selves are “exceptionally good at dying,” giving her 372 worlds she can travel to. Because of this, she is recruited by the Eldridge Institute to live in walled-off Wiley City and travel along with her handler Dell. Cara doesn’t feel at home in the city or when visiting her former home in the wastes, but staying out of trouble and working will grant her citizenship. Trouble finds her anyway because one of her remaining counterparts dies under mysterious circumstances. Cara discovers a secret that can put not only her life in jeopardy but can endanger the multiverse.

Travel into multiverses is an idea I've seen before, and I like the fact that there are limitations to this travel, as well as a mythology of sorts behind the actual movement between universes. We have a racial and classist divide between Wiley City and Ashtown, and even among the desert wastes, there are differences between those that are runners and those that are religious. Out in the wastes, they tend to be dark-skinned and poor, while in the City the people are exceedingly pale and live in towers under a movable dome that can shelter the people from the intense heat and light that periodically can occur.

We're presented with a post-apocalyptic world where the rich are generally in charge and work to keep it that way. Resources are brought in from other worlds because there aren't enough on Earth Zero, and Cara's job is to go to different worlds to collect data about them. Scientists in different fields rely on that data, and she thinks of it as just a job. We get flashes of her past, as well as the realization that keeping her head down to stay employed and rack up time in the city so that she can become a fully-fledged citizen isn't worth the price. While she doesn't think of herself as a very moral person, given her origins and the distance from people, Cara is very much aware of her position in society and the lines she isn't comfortable crossing. There's a lot that people are willing to do in the name of comfort, but Cara has faced quite a few of her own demons and has seen the potential outcome of complacency on other worlds. Earth Zero isn't perfect, and won't be even after the end of the novel, but change is happening, and there's always hope for better. That's the best kind of ending for all of these characters, and well worth staying up way too far past my bedtime to read it!
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I received a copy of this book from the author. I had the opportunity to review or not.

An incredibly innovative look at time travel and the consequences on the people involved and the travelers who dare enter worlds that are not theirs. This book posits the premise of multi-universes and interdimensional travel. The main caveat is the threat of meeting one’s self. The consequence is death for the interloper. Despite the danger, traversers, as they were called, risked it all to make the trip. 

This book was so creative in its approach to time travel, the political environment of different worlds and the interaction of characters in each of those worlds that I found myself wanting to know more and more. I had to know more. Micaiah provided more and then some. Cara is a strong, female character that has become the best-known traverser of her planet. She has traveled to many universes with many deaths of her doppelgangers. In fact, so many that the reader may find her character as an unreliable source. But a compelling source. I loved this science fiction tale of an often told theme. It will pleasantly surprise you.
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I got through 60% of this and had to stop reading. I thought it was boring and confusing and I found myself not caring about the main character very much.
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I very rarely read Science Fiction, but I'm so glad I gave this book a shot. It was thrilling and so well crafted. I truly felt transported to another world, and who doesn't want that right now?
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This is a science fiction novel built around the multiverse theory. It jumps into an interesting explanation of how the system works from the start. That interest soon turns dark as the health and longevity differences found with economic disparity offers a rare opportunity to become part of the utopian city. Despite the hard science foundation, though, this is a novel about people, choices, and consequences.

The narrative voice is an odd, cynical monotone for much of the book as Cara, the main character, lives on the edge of two societies. She’s valuable for her disposability, or rather, the opposite. The multiverse rejects more than one copy per world, so when her double dies, ‘our’ Cara can then visit those worlds using a special machine. She lives in the city and has access to a citizen’s resources when she’s not transversing as she works toward earning a citizenship. But she doesn’t belong there, and while she reveals fascinating details, she’s set apart from them.

A literal wall divides this society with few exceptions, but besides some holdovers from early Ruralite religious beliefs, gender and sexuality are a spectrum. Racial disparity, on the other hand, is stronger when the city blocks all rays that would trigger melanin, making the distinctions hard to ignore. Sexism still echoes in Ruralite expectations and in the warlord’s treatment of his wives and mistress as well.

The city itself is a fascinating mix of utopian ideals and social failures. It offers health care, protection for those unable to work, fresh fruit for anyone to enjoy… But the real benefits are reserved for citizens, and the resources come from those exiled to Ashtown beyond the wall. The city isolates its citizens, rejecting touch and care as necessary while those outside the wall embrace it. A utopia for the few with strict social and emotional barriers blunting them from the reality of their faults. They are blind to what makes their city work.

We only glimpse the religion practiced by Ruralites outside the wall, but those hints are complex and fascinating. The funerary ritual is beautiful while the differences in lifelines across the Earths affect the different characters’ calling as much as anything.

The writing uses simple sentences full of nuance that reveal the complexity of a world struggling to survive after industrialists polluted and stripped everything of value. Nor is the lesson learned. The areas with damage sit outside the wall while the people with control of resources live within, paying those trapped outside to continue the stripping either of their Earth or another.

This is far from a simple narrative. As soon as you grow comfortable in what you think you know, another twist is thrown into the mix, making everything that much more complex. While such a pattern could have broken the narrative, this works because each twist builds on what’s been happening instead of tearing it down. The same is true for the foreshadowing. Seemingly unrelated mentions have a direct connection you learn later…and sometimes several connections.

Coming from the life Cara does, it’s little surprise she expects everything to be wrenched from her. Still, her character is more than a product of her upbringing as shown by her bond with Jean, her mentor at work and her teasing dance with Dell, her handler, when Dell seems to repel her advances. Nor is this a new aspect to her personality from her childhood bonds.

She doesn’t lie back and glory in the changes her low survival rate bought her. Cara is a person who acts, and traveling between the worlds makes her hyper-aware of her situation and that of others. She struggles with the questions of whether the quality of people buy their fate or the fate of people makes the quality possible. This book becomes not just a social, but also a philosophical discourse on the back of her questions.

The way each version of the major players (Dell, Nik Nik, Esther, and more) changes from world to world is fascinating. We learn some of the triggers provoking the differences or only uncover the consequences. Cara also changes as she observes or interacts with others. She’s affected by the new reality even when separate from it. The novel is a love story, a story of self-discovery, or maybe both.

This is not a clean, tidy novel, but it is compelling and fascinating. The story has violence, mind warping, and destructive behavior. It’s a powerful read without using complex language or tricky metaphors, so the story is approachable. That’s part of its strength where the narrative tone becomes another hint of things to come. There are twists at every turn, each one building on what you know but turning you in another direction, nor are the characters exactly as they appear. The Space Between Worlds will make you think, feel, and wonder. Well worth the read.

P.S. I received this ARC from the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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Like so many science fiction dystopias, The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson opens on a world where the gap between the haves and the have-nots is an insurmountable ocean. The haves live in a heavily-protected city of hi-tech luxury. The have-nots eke out an existence in barely habitable territory where they look on the shining city with anger and envy. It’s little wonder that when Cara sees an opportunity to jump from a short life of misery to one of ease. What she doesn’t know is that the price is not just keeping a big secret. It cost might be worse crimes.

Cara was recruited from Ashtown to work for Eldredge, the company that developed the technology to travel between worlds. Eldredge uses this technology to mine the other earths for minerals and information, but there’s a catch. The catch is that a traverser can’t travel to a world where an alternate self is living. Because travel is only possible to similar earths, the well-brought up scientists of Eldredge can’t use their own technology. Thus, they have to recruit from wastelands like Ashtown and even active war zones to find people who survived in this world but have died in others. Cara has died on hundreds of other earths, making her a valuable employee for Eldredge. Except, Cara isn’t who everyone thinks she is. The Cara we know wasn’t born on Eldredge’s earth. She found the “original” Cara dying in the desert and, on hearing the urgent transmissions from Cara’s handle, seized the opportunity to leave her bad situation behind.

The Space Between is full of secrets and betrayals and twists. The more Cara learns, the more she realizes how deep the rot goes in Eldredge, the shining Wiley City, and Ashtown. Nothing goes the way Cara—or we—predict. Perhaps the biggest lesson we learn is that beautiful and bountiful doesn’t always mean that somethings is good. All her life, Cara has looked at Wiley City as a place of law and order and health and plenty. Like so many others, she never stopped to notice that the beauty, etc., are just a veneer over the top of a lot of dirty dealing. Can it be true that the only honest people are the ones who wear their villainy openly?

Johnson is a deft hand at building up a world (well, many worlds), the characters, and the complicated rules of traveling between worlds. There was never a slow or a dull moment. The Space Between Worlds is one of the most original pieces of science fiction I’ve read in a while.
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The cover alone for this book is worth 5 stars. I liked this book a lot more than I thought I would because there are many sci-fi books that follow the same idea/plot, etc. This was not one of them. I love the idea of a multiverse, where there are trillions of galaxies and planets just like Earth. To top that, there is also someone who is a doopleganger just like you doing the same thing. What if you could visit one of these planets and find a solution to save your own planet? This was just one of the many questions resonating throughout this book.

I love science fiction when it is written as good as this. I also like 6+ unexpected twists.. OMG! Highly recommend this book.

Thanks to Netgalley, Miciah Jonhson and Random House Publishing Group Ballantine Del Rey for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Available: 8/4/20
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I really loved this book. To the point where I could either finish it this morning, or keep reading at night and finish it tomorrow night, and it was a real debate. "On the one hand, I'll get to finish the story. On the other hand, the book will be done." I love Cara, I love Dell, and the way their relationship is portrayed is fantastic. It's actually a bit similar to The Pull of the Stars (which I hated). The difference is that this book manages to establish the relationship a million times better than Stars did, even when it was just longing and flirtation. 

This book is the fantastic TV show Counterpart combined with one of my favorite 2019 reads, This Is How You Lose the Time War, and it lives up to being compared to both. I can't wait to reread it sometime. 

Netgalley always asks "Would you purchase this book?" when leaving a review. Since the book is already out, I can confirm that I am already a proud owner of the audiobook version.
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Difficult to get into this book, perhaps too technical for me.  I kept at it for a while but just couldn’t finish reading this book.
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If you love sci-fi and dystopian set novels, then you definitely need to pick this title up. 
The fast paced action, multiverse, and entire world building made, A Space Between Worlds difficult time put down! 
I absolutely loved the protagonist, Cara. She wasn’t the average perfect girl that everyone was drawn to. She had just the right amount of flaws and complexity that continued to make her interesting! 

This book just released, so make sure you pick it up!!
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I read about 25% of this book and do not have plans to finish it at this time.  I think the idea of the book and multiverse travelling is amazing.  I enjoyed the introduction to that and the 'Main Earth" and what it entails.  The reason I stopped is because it was not clear to me who the main character was.  She saw a dead body and took over that person's identity, but I was confused as to who all thought she was someone else.  When she had memories of a certain other characters were they actually hers or what she had read in her notebooks.  It's not easy to go back and reread parts in an e-book and so I found myself not caring about the story enough to do so.  This is my personal experience with the part of the book that I read.  I remain appreciative of the opportunity to read the book.
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The Space Between Worlds is light approachable science fiction from a debut author describing the misadventures and redemption of a weary young woman named Cara who manages to survive a world(s) that is, statistically speaking, out to get her. Cara is quite relatable, if not always likable, but you do end up rooting for her as she develops as a person and stands up for herself. The plot is entirely character-driven and the infinite world setting seems to be getting more popular and mainstream with even TV shows now like Dark and Rick and Morty.

The supporting cast is also quite an interesting one - though not all of them get their chance to shine. It is easy to mix up some of the same individuals from different worlds and sometimes it is not clear what traits they share across worlds. Probably intentional. Are we supposed to believe that the differences lie in the choices they have made? Or is it the external world and simple chance that mold the individuals into significantly different versions of themselves? This would have been a fun path to go down, and while an attempt is made - I did not think we got a satisfying conclusion there.

Also, the plot wraps up with enough questions unanswered that I would not be surprised if we see a sequel. In fact, in a multiverse, why should there not be an infinite number of sequels?

And of course, there is a delightful little twist on Chekhov's gun in the story - which I am sure was intended, but if not, it was serendipity from an author who is getting her PhD in literature. So I am just going to assume it was intended.

My only concerns are that for a book in the genre, there is little discussion on the science or science-fiction elements. Admittedly this is explained away as a consequence of a first-person narrative from a protagonist who really does not care about the science. But if you are going into the book expecting an explanation on the mechanics of dimension-hopping, you'll be disappointed. Earth Zero itself is not really brought to life considering that the story is set decades in the future so sometimes it the world does not feel well fleshed out.'

The supernatural element of the dimension-hopping and the ethereal dream-like nature of Nyame is probably my favorite part of the story.

ARCs can be a mixed bag, but this was a fun read. So I'll end this with a thank you to NetGalley for the ARC and kudos to the author for what I thought was a great debut novel.
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I like anything time related and dystopian. Time travel, parallel universes, alternate realities you name it. This was an interesting concept and method of traversing the multiverse. Cara’s job is to travel among the different worlds where she doesn’t exist and collect data on those worlds. Easy peasy, right? Until she learns some secrets and needs to decide how to deal with them. Overall, it was interesting story and a quick read but I didn’t care for the writing style. Too much telling and explaining and repetition instead of more character interaction. I’d rather learn as I go instead of being constantly inside the MC’s head being told how the their world works.
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