Cover Image: The Space Between Worlds

The Space Between Worlds

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Member Reviews

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson is a science fiction fantasy that does have a touch of romance. This is another science fiction fantasy that deals with the idea of the multiverse and I’m beginning to wonder if these just aren’t for me after not having much luck with them.

In the world of this book people are able to travel between the multiverses in their 380 different worlds. However, no one can travel to a world where their own self is still living or that means death. Cara is now able to travel to 372 of the worlds available with only eight of her left. When one of her eight remaining dopplegangers dies Cara finds herself in danger.

I think for me my biggest problem with The Space Between Worlds was that I would find myself just waiting for more science fiction or techy type of stuff to actually happen in the story as it felt more about the politics of the world.  This one is also supposed to be an adult read but I had to keep reminding myself of that because the character felt more like a teenager in young adult. So really when done I think this just deserved way more world/character building to give a reader the right mindset for the story.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
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I had several false starts with this one and eventually decided to DNF. But it kept calling me to read it. Turns out, right now is precisely the moment in time that needed to read it. And I'm so glad I did. 

It is filled with beautiful heartfelt writing. Absolutely fell in love with this story. 

A big thanks to the author, publisher, and netgalley for a copy of the ARC.
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I appreciate the publisher allowing me to read this book. This was an excellent sci firm story, though the plot has been done many times before I really enjoyed the authors style.
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Multiverse travel is now possible, but you can only travel to worlds where your parallel self is dead. This gives people born into bad conditions where survival is unlikely a unique, if limited, value to the Elbridge Institute in walled and wealthy Wiley City.

Cara is one of those outliers, plucked from poverty and danger in the wastelands, to work as a "traverser," bringing back data from the scientists from many of the worlds where her parallel self died. She works with Dell, her Watcher, temptingly attractive yet aloof and withdrawn, a woman of old money in Wiley City. 

Everything is going smoothly, and Cara has a nice apartment and a good income, and makes regular visits to her family in the wasteland settlement of Ashtown. Then another of Cara's parallel selves dies. Cara has a new world to visit, and events start to threaten Cara's dangerous secret.

It also leads to Cara discovering the dangerous secret of the seemingly kindly scientist and Elbridge CEO who invented the world-crossing technology.

I started reading this book with some real skepticism, as it superficially seemed like yet another dystopia, a part of the sff genre that I really do not love. It does take place on a blighted Earth, where developed, technologically advanced civilization exists only in walled cities. There's trade between the cities and their outlying slums in the wasteland, including a sort of edgy tourism by the well-off city people to the safer parts of the slums arts and crafts can be purchased.

We only see Wiley City and its Ashtown slum, but there are other cities and other slums, and other inhabited, if struggling, areas. One of these people is one of Cara's mentors, Jean Sanogo, from the Ivory Coast, survivor of a time as a child soldier before he was found and identified someone who had enough parallel selves dead that he was a good candidate for one of the first traversers. This is a climatologically blighted world, with more damage done by wars caused by the climate change, but the wars now seem to be over, and it's all about living as well as possible in the blight.

One way of doing that is to import raw materials from parallel worlds, similar enough that the world-crossing technology can reach them, but with enough accessible resources to be worth stealing.

The plot-based conflicts are interesting, if sometimes thin. The characters become interesting and compelling, both in meeting alternate versions of some, and in the development the versions we get to know best experience. Jean and his family are more than just a warm, family group with a love of good cooking, though that's an important part of them. Cara learns, develops, changes, makes major choices along the way from a young woman who just wants to remain gainfully employed long enough to earn citizenship in Wiley City, to a woman who wants to make the world better, and is willing to make real sacrifices for her family. Other characters also reveal themselves in interesting ways. Overall, far more satisfying and enjoyable than I originally anticipated.

Recommended.

I received this book from NetGalley via the 2021 Hugo Voters Packet, and am reviewing it voluntarily.
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I love stories based in a multiverse, and really enjoyed the approach this novel takes. Great, memorable characters and a gripping setup kept me reading until the end.
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The Space Between Worlds follows Cara, who out of the 380 worlds that Earth Zero can resonate with, she is alive on only 8. Cara works for a company that specializes in gathering intel about these universes. However, when one of her counterparts is murdered under mysterious circumstances, secrets about herself and the multiverse are revealed that may change the course of her destiny. This is a story about a black bisexual woman, fighting for survival, and falling in love with her female co-worker. I don't think you'll want to miss out on this one.

In this world, queer is normal. People love who they love, and are who they are. There is some mention of people who can't deal with that, but they are a minority. There are many varieties of relationships and at least one non-binary character, but none of it is highlighted or picked at, it just exists as part of life. I found it very refreshing to see a world where everything is accepted, everything is normal, and the story goes on.
Honestly, my first thought after finishing the book was "I need more Cara and Dell content STAT" but I was also super satisfied with how this book ended should it remain a standalone. However, I felt that this book handled it's multiverse very well and it was explained in a clear and concise way that made it easy to follow along with. I loved Micaiah Johnson's writing. There's just something about it that's so poetic and yet grounded in the harsh reality that her story takes place in that makes me scream with amazement.
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This was a beautifully written book. I was hooked by the premise, that of multiple worlds housing an infinite amount of the each person who, through various choices at some point in life, end up leading slightly different lives than their other variants. One world discovers a way to send people into these alternate worlds to learn from them. While the premise alone is intriguing, Micaiah Johnson writes her characters incredibly well. Cara, Dell, and the rest of the group are at times scared, hard, vulnerable, and heroic. Johnson expertly portrays these different emotions and feats and sends her characters off to save the worlds. If you loved the new multiverse idea that Disney and Marvel's Loki presented recently, you'll love this book.
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Although this book did not have as much action as I've come to expect with sci-fi, it still has incredible characters and beautiful world building. 

Solid read and I'd love to read more by this author.
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I totally agree with the hype and how everyone is saying that the prose is so lyrical and easy to read/listen to. It flows so well and the world-building doesn't feel in your face or info-dumpy, it feels really natural and it unfolds little by little. There are so many hard-hitting parts as well where I would have to pause it and just soak in what was said. But, only for a few seconds because listening to the book I also had the urgency to continue and to pause it as little as possible.

There are also so many twists and turns that it got to a point where I couldn't guess anymore or even try to map out where the plot might go in my head. I was forced to be along for the ride. It was a great ride and I love being surprised or on the edge of my seat so The Space Between Worlds really nailed that fun aspect of audiobook listening for me.
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I read The Space Between Worlds as part of the Hugo Voters' Packet. Micaiah Johnson is nominated for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer (not a Hugo.)

On another Earth that may or may not resonate with our own, Adam Bosch has unlocked the secrets of the multiverse. Travel between multiple Earths is possible -- but only if you're dead on your destination world.. Cara works for Bosch's Eldredge Institute as a traverser, one of a handful of people able to jump between multiple worlds: 372 of them, in fact. Due to the circumstances of her upbringing, Cara has died on more worlds than she has lived, making her exceptionally valuable to Eldredge.

Cara is tasked with harvesting alternate Earths for data that differs from Earth Zero, places where people and history took a different course, and then returning the data to Eldredge for profit. It's a comfortable lifestyle, but when a new world is added to her pull list -- another Cara has died -- what she finds there brings long-buried secrets, and a deadly new plot, to light.

The Space Between Worlds is about division, about reconciliation and about justice. It's about trying to survive when you're an outsider everywhere you go. It's about what we choose for ourselves and the compromises we make, what we can live with and live without, and what those say about us. It is also a book about trauma, both institutional and personal, and the forms that recovery can take.

Johnson's worldbuilding is thought-provoking and vividly drawn, especially outside the walls of Wiley City. Her writing is beautiful and absorbing, wonderfully crafted and rich. The book resonates with our Earth without the parallels becoming heavy-handed. Cara, our narrator, is a sharp observer of the world around her with a talent for a well-turned phrase. The plot zips along, twisting and turning as the betrayals build and the surprises stack up. Characters are complex and dimensional and no one is who they appear to be at first glance, especially the members of the cast who have doppelgangers on other worlds.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Space Between Worlds. Johnson's nomination for the Astounding Award is well-deserved. Four stars.
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I held onto this book for a while hoping it would live up my high expectations and make me feel comfortable with jumping into science fiction. And...it totally delivered! I thoroughly enjoyed this story and am happy that I took a leap and purchased the book before having the chance to read it first as I will re-enter this world again and again.
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This book is going at the top of my Hugo ballot for the Astounding award. It's a very accomplished work; I would not have guessed it was by a new author.
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Damn, it's *so*close* to being excellent! Instead, it's very very good, and you're spending both money and time very wisely on this debut novel.

Cara's world is a multiverse with very interesting rules for travel: your alt-Earth counterpart must be dead. It's very exciting to follow Cara in her travels to an unusually large number of multiversally-vibrating alt-Earths. The problems her mortality-prone other-Earth selves are succumbing to make it possible for the author to reflect on the many problems of our end-stage capitalist world without shouting or whining.
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I would like to thank the author and publisher for kindly providing a review copy of this book.

The Space Between Worlds" by Micaiah Johnson is a complex well-written thought-provoking novel. Johnson creates a realistic dystopian world and multiplies that times infinity by introducing a gritty character who can be sent from to similar parallel worlds where she learns uncomfortable truths about herself, her family, friends, and enemies. I look forward to reading more books by Micaiah Johnson.
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Beautiful storytelling. Captivating character development and immersive world building. Plot twists that surprise but feel natural. Definitely looking for more books by this author.
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# The Space Between Worlds was posted on Maddie_approves_book_reviews months ago. And it's certainly never to late to pick up a fun novel. lf your needing a break from romance this is one by author # Micaiah Johnson.
Thank you for the advance copy,
#Netgalley, # Micaiah Johnson, and Random House
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The writing is consistent and the premise really intrigued me. I wanted to love this book, especially because of its diversity and representation in sci-fi. 

Cara is such an interesting and strong character with so much potential to develop. I was absorbed by her character and wanted to know more about her backstory. Nik Nik also is a mysterious character ready to have his layers unpeeled. Having said that, the execution fell flat for me. The plot dragged in some parts and I kept expecting a "major" thing to happen to get me into the story. Unfortunately I DNFed @30%.
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The Space Between Worlds, by Micaiah Johnson, was a difficult read for the first third of the book, more character fiction than science fiction. But about midway through the story, it opens up into more plot based than character based, and the science fiction aspect takes off.

Overall, the book was enjoyable with a nasty, difficult-to-like protagonist. It is simply put, "good sci-fj."
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For students, this is a great novel that blends multi-verses, queer identities, and mystery. An interesting dystopian tale to add to my classroom library. While I can see this working for some students, I also feel this novel was sort of a miss in some aspects. There was no clear defined villain, it was a bit info-dumpy, and could be construed as confusing for potentially younger readers in my classroom. 

I personally enjoyed this book, and it helped that I listened to it on audio to help get me through the novel, but when I look at ARCs for my classroom, I have to take into account the age of my readers and their unique diversities. Overall, I will include this in my library and offer it as a choice for independent reading.
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I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for this review... yes, I realize this was published in August 2020.

I'll be honest... this one took me a long time to get into initially. I kept getting bored and putting it down in the first 50 pages for reasons I can't quite pin down. Maybe just pandemic malaise?

HOWEVER. Once The Space Between Worlds starts going, it GOES, and you find yourself falling in love with the protagonist Cara. She is deeply flawed, and the stress of juggling so many identities is relatable - Cara is acutely aware of how dispensable she is to her [white, rich, literally walled in] employer, and no matter how much code-switching and attempting to "pass" Cara tries, she is stuck "between [the] worlds" of Wiley City and Ashtown. And of course, without spoilers, matters are further complicated and the plot starts twisting...

There's action, emotional gut punches, queer romance, and some fantastic wordsmithing by Ms. Johnson... without spoilers, one of the more gruesome multiverse traveling scenes took my breath away. The social criticism in this book is razor sharp, as sci-fi should be, and it was a joy to read.

Minus half a star because I predicted one of the primary "twists" a chapter or two early, and I maybe rolled my eyes a little when she was so flabbergasted, but it didn't deter much from the story.
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