Cover Image: The Space Between Worlds

The Space Between Worlds

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

"If I figured anything out in these last six years, it is this: human beings are unknowable. You can never know a single person fully, not even yourself."

Holy Crap, I absolutely loved The Space Between Worlds. So many times I read a book's synopsis, thinking it sounds amazing, only to be disappointed. But this debut by Micaiah Johnson was everything I could have wanted it to be and so much more. The world building is phenomenal (well "worlds" building, since it's about multiverses!) The character development was also fantastic, with bi-sexual narrator and main character, Cara, being believable, relatable, likable, but also flawed.

The Space Between Worlds is part fantasy, part sci-fi, but also largely contemporary in its focus on the current (and longlasting) issues of global warming, race, and classism. Ashtown and Wiley City are on opposite sides of a wall, with one side getting richer and richer by the year, while the other side gets poorer and sicker by the year.

Cara is a traverser, meaning she can travel between worlds, but only to worlds where her counterpart in that world has already died. Some of the worlds differ greatly while some are quite similar, with many of the same recurring characters across each world.

Disclaimer: The quoted text is from an uncorrected proof of this book that I received from Del Rey Books and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Was this review helpful?

Thanks to NetGalley and Del Rey for an ARC of this title.

This was a delight from start to finish - there's some strong world-building from the start, and a twist revealed in chapter 2 that added an extra level of depth I wasn't expecting from where things start out.

Sometime in the future, we've discovered a way to traverse across parallel dimensions. Most people can't do this, though, since your parallel selves still exist. For people from outside the city who have had more hardscrabble lives, however, they're able to jump between worlds easily. Cara is one such person, and learns a little about what makes all this possible after she's able to visit another universe when one of her parallel selves previously preventing her from crossing over disappears.

It gets a little tricky in the middle of the book to keep track of various parallel versions of some characters, especially when we didn't fully meet them in the first place, but eventually things click, and the plot is full of exciting twists and turns - I stayed up too late finishing this one because I wanted to know how everything turned out. I'm definitely going to keep an eye on Johnson's writing after this stellar first taste.

Was this review helpful?

The Space Between Worlds is a truly unique sci-fi novel. I love the idea of the multiverse and will read any book that centers on it. In this one, we follow Cara who is a traverser that can only travel to worlds where she is no longer alive. She travels to these worlds to collect data, but she discovers that everything is not as it seems. The story takes off from there with lots of twists and turns.

I love Cara. Her character deals with things such as class, sexuality (she’s bisexual), and race. I would say the characters are where Micaiah Johnson really shines. We get to see several characters in different worlds and how their world has shaped the person they’ve become. I even shed a tear in one scene near the end.

This was a unique and thought provoking read that I would recommend to fans of soft sci-fi.

ARC provided by Netgalley for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

The concept of the multiverse and the detail put into the different lives of each and every character in parallel universes was remarkable. Cara jumps from world to world as part of her job, and you never know who or what she is going to come across next. What seems innocent, a job collecting data, turns into something much more sinsister. Cara uses her cunning and strength to push herself through the challenges of the multiverse and manages to come out (minorly) unscathed and an unsung hero. Johnson tackles race and class issues in the middle of a propulsive story, sending the reader on an intense journey leaving them questioning reality.

I could not put this book down. I am amazed that this is a debut novel and will be reading anything else Micaiah Johnson puts out.

four and a half stars from me ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

the only thing i felt was missing was adding a longer epilogue. and that's just cause I wanted to see SO MUCH more of Cara!

Recommend for fans of Pierce Brown, Neal Shusterman, and James S. A. Corey.

Was this review helpful?

Humans are finally able to travel to parallel worlds, but only if their own self on that world is already dead. Cara is in luck. Her parallel selves are good at dying and have died on 372 of the other worlds. After Cara was identified as a strong candidate to travel the multiverse, she moves into Wiley City as a resident. Cara knows that if she can keep working and doesn’t get into trouble, she can eventually become a citizen and not just a resident. It is hard to stay out of trouble when one of Cara’s last eight doppelgangers dies and she is sent to this new world with many secrets. What truths will Cara learn about her past?

The Space Between Worlds is a science fiction stand-alone story that is different yet relatable at the same time. Johnson’s debut includes cross-dimensional travel and self-discovery in a fast-paced adventure that was fun the entire time. Cara has to deal with growing up poor, yet living a life a lot different than the rest of her family. She learns that she has a role to play in her own world that could affect the entire multiverse. I recommend The Space Between Worlds for all sci-fi fans, especially those looking for a one and done novel.

Was this review helpful?

"I made a list of what I need to accomplish, which is long. Then I make a list of people I can trust, which is short."

This is a tale of survival and moral ambiguity in a near future where multiverse travel has been discovered. The catch is that you can only travel to one of the 382 known worlds if your self in that reality isn't among the living. Consequently, the privileged class has limited travel options with so few opportunities for their lives to be threatened. They must call upon the habitually oppressed, whose losses of life across the multiverse become an opportunity to travel, in an ironic twist.

Cara has grabbed onto this challenge with both hands. With only 8 versions of herself alive in the multiverse, she's one of the most travelled traversers in company history. She must reckon where she came from with her ambition and desire for more, always reaching. Cara is an unapologetic protagonist, whether she's flirting with her coworker, Dell, protecting herself, or making decisions that will ripple across the multiverse.

I can't say much else about the plot because the twists are abundant. So I'll just say expect action, queer slow burn romance, and both moral quandaries and hard line social critique. It's brutal in world-building and plot. The prose strikes you in the gut with harsh efficiency. In short, I highly recommend it.

Was this review helpful?

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson
Available August 4, 2020

This book was fascinating! Set in a future where we have discovered the existence of the multiverse, a group of scientists and explorers travel between the worlds documenting the similarities and differences between the worlds. Scientists quickly discovered that people could only travel to alternate worlds where their alternate has died. Within the 380 worlds that scientists can travel to, Cara has died on 373 of them, making her the perfect traverser. Those who grow up privileged in one world, tend to live privileged lives amongst all the alternate worlds. The same goes for the poor and impoverished, making poor people of color perfect for the program.
Cara has worked hard to establish her place within the city. She is on the path to citizenship, has an apartment, and is willing to work double shifts, even when it threatens her health. Her handler Dell keeps her at arm’s length, no matter how much flirting Cara throws her way.
It’s during a standard data pull on an alternate world that Cara realizes she’s been sent to a world where she still lives. Violating protocol, she struggles to stay alive long enough for someone to rescue her and allow Cara to further investigate the world. Meeting her doppleganger is a mind-bending experience and leads to Cara having to reckon with her deepest and darkest secrets. Secrets so big, they could tear her world apart.
This book was so good! It’s such a tightly written story that too much discussion will lead to spoilers. I loved the world-building and the way that Cara has to balance between two very different societies. Her family lives out in the desert where many of the poor live, and where Cara never felt like she fit in. But, Cara doesn’t feel like she belongs within the wealthy, walled city either. She has to change her language, her wardrobe, the way she holds herself when she is around her family. When she returns to the city, she has to again change her persona to match societal expectations. Neither persona feels real to Cara and that duality plagues her throughout the book.
The relationship between Dell and Cara is fraught with high emotions and cold responses. Dell, her handler and woman of her dreams, is way out of her league and Cara is constantly flirting and teasing her, almost she can’t help herself. Dell never responds in kind, in fact, she acts almost insulted everytime Cara flirts with her. Their relationship was fascinating to watch develop over the course of the story.
I loved how fast paced this story was. It’s a deeply woven story-there’s government conspiracies, corruption, societal unrest, personal secrets, and a slow burn romance. Cara has to constantly decide how her past and alternate selves will shape her future, all while trying to figure out who the person she wants to be now. The fact that Cara knows how her other selves have died on other worlds-what a weight to carry. The writing is just fantastic and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.
Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read and review this story. All opinions and mistakes are my own.

Was this review helpful?

That was… actually pretty good.

Cara is a traverser, able to travel to hundreds of alternate universes in which her in-world doppelganger has died. But when Cara is sent to a world she doesn’t belong in, she must unravel the secrets and mysteries behind traversing.

I’m not usually a sci fi fan, but I admit <i>The Space Between Worlds</i> rather unexpectedly won me over. The ideas aren’t exactly new; world hopping is well-trodden ground in both sci fi and fantasy, as are doppelgangers and gritty post-apocalypses.

But you know what? The plot is really good. Johnson knows how to hook her reader in, and she takes the story in very unexpected directions.

I admit that the first quarter of the book is quite slow. Johnson takes a lot of time to set up her world, and the pacing drags. There are characters to meet, situations to explain, worldbuilding to do. There’s simply too much information being given to the reader without enough actually happening plot-wise.

But once the second section begins, things kick off properly and the plot doesn’t slow down again for a single second. Johnson is great at cliffhangers and at creating desperate challenges for her characters to escape from.

It helps that Cara is a great protagonist who is easy to root for. Cara is all rough edges and mistrust, but she’s also tenacious and clever. As a traverser she travels between different worlds, never truly at home in any. On a more metaphorical level, she travels between the different worlds of the wealthy Wiley City where she lives and works and the poor, warlord-ruled Rurals where she grew up. Cara thinks of herself as the consummate outsider, never at home anywhere she goes. Cara’s perspective is unusual and also really dynamic and interesting. She’s also an extremely unreliable narrator, although it takes a while for the reader to figure that out. Half the fun of reading is trying to determine how much of Cara’s insights are true and how much are colored by her biased views of her world.

With Cara and a fast-paced, no-holds-barred plot to speed things along, <i>The Space Between Worlds</i> flies by. The book ends on a solidly conclusive note, but I wouldn’t mind dipping back into Cara’s world for a sequel. Recommended for sci fi fans and non-sci fi fans alike.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this arc.

Rating 4.25.

This book started out slow for me. I wasn’t really interested nor was I entirely sure what the plot even was. Luckily it picked up quick, by 15-20%. After that, I was pretty sold. It’s such an interesting story and concept. I loved the MC and the twists and turns. They kept me wanting to know what happens next. The mix of fantasy and sci-fi threw me though. I knew it was sci-if with the worlds and tech, but mentions of a type of goddess and the emperors, confused me every time. Without that disconnect, I probably would’ve rated it higher. All-in-all, it was a great read.

Was this review helpful?

I found this book fascinating, the characters relatable and easy to get attached to, the science not hard to digest, and the story arc engaging!

Having said this, I am also a huge sucker for inter-dimensional reads. I love the premise of going to other worlds and finding different versions of yourself. In The Space Between Worlds the different personalities of our main character seem at their core to be made from the same stock, but how they develop is vastly different depending on their circumstances. The characters are also only able to access a SMALL amount of dimensions (a little over 300) so they can only access the ones that are more closely mirroring their own dimension (you just have to be dead in that other universe in order to be able to visit). It is a nature vs. nurture debate, in which both aspects make up the being. There is also some philosophical discussions of "is the inter-dimensional travel possible due to science or religion"? Which prevails? Why not both? It also tackles racial prejudices, social-economical issues as both of these tend to play a hand on which people get to travel--the higher the risk in your life (too poor to afford basic needs, maybe living in a place full of danger, being discriminated against) the better chance you are to be able to travel. I found the discussion fascinating, and a nice way to mirror the problems in our own dimension.

I do feel the novel was divided into two parts basically--it felt like there were two overarching plots which could have easily been divided into two books. Both parts of the story got their time to shine, but maybe dividing it into a duology might have given the reader time to adjust and some characters more page time. As it is it still works great, it just felt weird how by the middle we kind of shifted gears in a sense, like if the novel had a "Part II" that wasn't stated as such. But that was pretty much my biggest hiccup with the novel and it wasn't such a big deal.

I really liked the romance aspects, though it definitely is a small part of the story we do get some LGBTQIA+ Rep! And their interactions are so juicy and multilayered. At first I wasn't sure what to make of the relationship, but there is a reason for everything in The Space Between Worlds, so just give Dell a chance.

Overall I greatly enjoyed this story! It is lite sci-fi so it ends up being a great gateway into adult sci-fi, giving teens and those who wouldn't normally pick up "sci-fi" books a taste into the genre. I love the idea, and I look forward to reading more of Micaiah Johnson.

I was provided an e-ARC copy of this novel in exchange for an HONEST review, which I totally honestly really liked this book and recommend

Was this review helpful?

Cara is a traverser. She travels to different versions of Earth to collect data. She can travel to any other Earth as long as she is dead there already. Cara is unique because she is dead on 372. She only has 8 doppelgangers left.
Most of the worlds hold a different version of her life of hardship and suffering. But, they are mostly the same. Except for one. One of the doppelgangers dies and Cara can't help but think something isn't right. She sets out to find answers and finds more than she could've imagined.

This is a great book! There were so many plot twists that I didn't see coming. When I could find time to read, I didn't want to stop. This was such a breath of fresh air! So unique, so well written. I just really enjoyed myself.

Was this review helpful?

I wonderful sci-fi (not normally what I gravitate towards - but I'm down for any time alternate timelines/worlds are involved) that explores sexuality and classism in a way that doesn't feel forced. I can't wait for more publications by this author.

Was this review helpful?

I received a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Cara lives in a world (worlds) where there are parallel dimensions and, in the right circumstances, people can travel between them. The right circumstances-meaning that the "you" in the alternate dimension must already be dead or you're going to die a pretty awful death when you get there. Since many of Cara's iterations are dead (in each world, she grows up in a fairly rough environment, often dying young), she's a top traverser (person who can travel between worlds). Her life in the city is fairly easy, thanks to a nice paycheck. One day, it goes wrong. She's sent to a world where her dop (doppelganger) is still alive. Cara manages to survive, due to some good instincts and luck. But because of this, she starts seeing the cracks in the system in the world she came from-and the system that keeps her traveling.
I'm not sure what it was-the book's premise was pretty interesting. But I just didn't care for this book. I had to trudge through the story because I did want to know what happened in the end.

Was this review helpful?

Even after finishing The Space Between Worlds I'm still in love with the concept. That's how you know that a book is unique and the social commentary in The Space Between Worlds is sharp and gripping. When you can only travel to worlds where that copy of you is dead, it means that those with the most privilege are basically still alive there. So all of a sudden there's many opportunities for employment for those from poor POC backgrounds so that they can travel to the most worlds.

What I also loved about The Space Between Worlds is that it never lets you forget this inherent difference. It motivates Cara and the events of the world, continuously reminding you of the ways the prejudice against the poor marginalized communities pervades even as they need them. And what happens to the travelers? This queer SFF is one of those stories which has a strong world concept and sticks to it.

There's no denying I was going to love Cara, not only is she bisexual and still, despite her status, navigating her identity as a formerly poor POC, but she's resilient, clever, and snarky. Just when you thought you had a handle on The Space Between Worlds, it ends up turning into a mystery and story of secrets.

Was this review helpful?

this book was very interesting. the concept of interplanar travel was done in a way i’ve never read before. i thought the protagonist was strongly written with a clear voice and vivid personality.
i do wish there had been more depth to the world building because what we did get was so fascinating.

Was this review helpful?

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: The Space Between Worlds

Author: Micah Johnson

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 4/5

Diversity: Black bi main character, nonbinarary side characters, Japanese lesbian characters, many ethnicities in this book

Recommended For...: sci-fi, romance, LGBT, space

Publication Date: August 4, 2020

Genre: Sci-Fi

Recommended Age: 17+ (romance, slight sexual content, TW abuse, gore, violence)

Publisher: Del Ray

Pages: 336

Synopsis: 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.

Review: Holy cow this book was very well done! The book had a lot of sci-fi concepts that I don’t normally read about and I thought were very imaginative and well done. The character development was excellent and the world building was amazing. The book had me hooked from the first page!

However, I did feel like the romance was a bit off and the pacing can be a bit uneven, it switches between fast and slow throughout the book.

Verdict: A well done sci-fi!

Was this review helpful?

The main character Cara's drive for a better life and ennui with the mundane after her traumatic past cause her to act with ruthlessness. This puts her in conflict with her coworkers in elite, sheltered Wiley City and psychs her out from turning her snarky banter with her coworker Dell into something more serious. Cara and Dell's relationship is intriguing, although there's not much romance because they spend so much time keeping each other at bay. I think the most compelling relationship in the book is between Cara and her otherworld selves. There is some social commentary in here about borders as imaginary divides (in terms of virtue and empathy), the role of environment and chance in a person's life trajectory, and the extractive nature of large businesses, but it felt surface level. I think one of the most intriguing aspects of the societies depicted is Ashtown's respect for sex workers and their centrality to society. The closest thing I've seen to the House providers in speculative fiction would be the Sisters of Hananja from N. K. Jemisin's The Killing Moon. At its heart, this story is a thriller where readers learn about Cara's origins, the tensions between Wiley City and Ashtown, and what is actually going on at Eldridge Corp. I was excited for every twist and turn and gasped aloud at several reveals. The ending was a bit anti-climatic. Caralee causes the main conflict by developing a conscience, and the resolution felt a bit simple. On the whole, a solid book that I look forward to discussing with others.

Was this review helpful?

a 4.5 for me - I was impressed and amazed at the concept and then at how well it was developed. The idea of multiple worlds existing on the same time plane isn't new, but to me this treatment was very creative. Cara, the amazing heroine, is an outcast but weasels her way into a job in the "city" where she becomes a world traveler. In fact, the most widely traveled traveler. And that's for a simple reason - travelers can only visit worlds where they are already dead so there's no dissonance of coexistence. And she's dead on LOTS of worlds! The way that affects her, her feelings, her future, are explored very well.

The writing is almost poetic sometimes and harsh and angry at other times. I sometimes had a bit of trouble keeping the characters straight as they appeared on multiple worlds with slightly different traits, but that wasn't distracting.

A thoroughly readable, intriguing, and well written story. Highly recommended.

Thanks to #NetGalley and #RandomHouse #Ballantine for the advance copy of #theSpaceBetweenWorlds - which I really enjoyed! The expanded review will appear on my blog, Bookshelf Journeys, soon.

Was this review helpful?

The Space Between Worlds was only an alright kind of read for me, I'll be honest I wasn't probably the target audience for this one, but I'm all about the multiverse. The multiverse concept this author brought forward was what I thought was the book's strongest portion. It wasn't the world that existed in the multiverse but the multiverse itself. The idea is that you have the original world as world 0 and every other subsequent world (1-300 something) is slightly different from the next, where 0 isn't very different from 1 and where 0 is wildly different from 300. One can travel and learn from the worlds as long as they do not exist in that world. The technology to travel to and from different worlds is glanced over at best and that's ok. There is a romance aspect to the book that's kind of weak and nonorganic. There were a few plot holes that should have been addressed but weren't because the plot needed them to exist. I felt that this was a bit in the mature YA genre rather than adult Sci/Fi. Either way it was only OK for me. One of the main reasons for two stars is simple...staying power. This book took me a good 2-2.5 months to finish, I read a lot before bed and while reading this one I would fall asleep after only a few moments of reading where I would normally read for an hour or two. I would put it down and not pick it up again for another few days rather than read through in a week or two as I do for most books.

Was this review helpful?

Definitely an author I will continue to follow and read. The concept of The Space Between Worlds was a fresh take on the multiverse trope, but I wish we focused more on Caralee and her versions rather than Nik Nik's. I felt like Cara was used to tell Nik Nik and his family's story rather than Cara's. Still, there is a lot to like and enjoy here.

Was this review helpful?