Cover Image: The Space Between Worlds

The Space Between Worlds

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Member Reviews

Thank you Micaiah Johnson, DelRey Books and Netgalley for #gifting me with this ebook.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 4.5/5 Stars
Trigger warning: This book contains scenes of domestic violence.

This has been one of those books that sat on my shelf and I just never got around to picking it up. I’m so glad that I reached for it this time around.

Cara is a survivor in every sense of the word. She has died on 372 other worlds, which makes her one of Eldridge’s biggest assets in multiverse travel. Little does Cara know that not everything is as it seems.

I am not the biggest sci-fi reader, but I loved the idea of there being hundreds of parallel universes that could be traveled to, but only if you no longer lived on that world. Cara is a strong female character; she is tough and ambitious, yet also flawed and a bit broken. She walks a thin line, never really fitting into any space that she inhabited.

I loved the pace and flow of this story. There are a couple big twists sprinkled in that leave you on the edge of your seat, waiting to see how it all unfolds. Adding in the same characters from different multiverses just added to the complexity of the story; in some worlds I hated a character and yet in other worlds I liked them. It’s a strange feeling to root for a character on one page and then pray for the same characters demise on the next. I also really liked that the queer sub-theme was added without a lot of added attention, it made it feel so natural and normal (which is how it should be!).
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The Space Between Worlds didn't quite grab me after the first few chapters. It sounded like an interesting concept, but I think this was a case of wrong book wrong time.
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The Space Between Worlds follows Cara as she is one of the few people that can travel between the multiverse, well because she is dead in most of them.  There is a sprinkle of science, a sprinkle of philosophy, and a sprinkle of action but overall it was just a sprinkling that did it in for me and couldn't keep me intrigued. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC of this book in return for an honest review.  All spelling and grammar errors are totally my own.
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This book has been very popular at the library as we expand our various genre sections.  A great read for SF/fantasy readers of all ages. I hope to see more from this author in the future.
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*special thanks to NetGalley for the ARC copy in exchange for an honest review!

4.5 stars 

I just had to read this after hearing so many great things about it... and it did not disappoint. 
The social commentary in this was effective, but not in your face. It was infuriating to see the division between classes, but it’s a very powerful commentary on society today. 
It was so gripping and enticing and I didn’t want to put it down. It kept me on the edge of my seat and I could never guess what would happen next. 
I see others complaining that it wasn’t heavy enough on the science fiction, but as someone who reads very little science fiction, that did not bother me at all. 
I will absolutely be buying myself a hardcover version of this because I already want to read it again.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Random House - Ballantine Books for the ARC! A fantastic, insightful ride. Five out of five stars, minimum! That this is a debut novel is fantastic and I will absolutely be looking out for the writer’s next books. 

Multiverse travel is possible - if you’re dead on the world you’re going to visit. To jump multiverses and arrive elsewhere will kill you if you visit worlds you’re still alive in. The space between worlds makes sure of that. Cara is a practiced traveler between worlds, useful because she’s died in nearly every world hers can visit. She’s got a talent for staying alive on hers, hard-fought and hard-won, a talent she keeps by always having her eyes fixed on the prize of keeping herself alive. 

Other versions of her, though with the same burning drive, are not so lucky and she has seen one die before her. When other versions of her start dying in mysterious ways, she’s sent to check on those universes - only to find that perhaps she isn’t as dead in them as she’s been informed. And if she’s not dead, why is she there? Who’s trying to kill her there? 

Is it that world’s version of her ex boyfriend, who she clung to for survival on her own world, nearly responsible for her death in her own ‘verse, and others? While this version swears he’s different, Cara’s survival instincts can’t agree. Fighting for herself off-world is certainly more difficult when it seems when she’s fighting with her long-time crush: a woman whose job is to launch her off, a woman who barely looks at her twice yet drops everything to help once she’s able to return. 

Cara’s used to be being looked down upon, underestimated, scorned. But can she survive two worlds where those in power actively seek to kill her?
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I was expecting more from this book. It had such a neat plot but I feel like it wasn't done as good as it could've been. First the book should've been longer so that it had the time to develop fully. I just wanted more from it!
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Published by Del Rey on August 4, 2020

The Space Between Worlds is rooted in the familiar multiverse theory. The story imagines the ability to move between a limited number of Earths that are similar to our own. The protagonist is tasked with making those journeys. She brings energy and interest to the book's initial chapters. Unfortunately, the story becomes less interesting as it progresses. Some aspects of the novel appear to have been crafted to please soap opera or romance fans.

A woman named Cara lives in Ashville, where underprivileged people of color cope with polluted air and malnutrition. Cara scores a gig as a traverser in Wiley City, where the rich people live. There is little subtlety in the juxtaposition of Wiley City and Ashville, two cities separated by a wall. Ashville residents cannot enter Wiley City without a pass. That wealthy people live well and poor people live poorly is a universal, but we see too little of how the difference developed on Earth Zero, where the neighboring cities are located.

Cara’s job entails traveling to one of 380 parallel Earths that humans from Earth Zero can enter. These are Earths that are sufficiently similar to Earth Zero that they “resonate," whatever that means.

Traversing isn’t a job that many people can perform. Only people who have no counterpart on the world they are entering — only people whose counterpart died on that world — can enter. If your counterpart is alive, you will be rejected with extreme prejudice. Why? Well, that isn’t clear, although Cara feels there’s some sort of spirit being called Nyame who lives between the worlds and makes, or at least enforces, the rules. Readers of a superstitious mindset might appreciate Cara’s communion with Nyame. Had more flesh been given to the concept, I might have appreciated it, as well.

Cara’s value is that she has managed to die on 372 of the parallel Earths but not on Earth Zero. Not yet, anyway, no thanks to Nik Nik, who is the Emperor of Ashville on Earth Zero and most other Earths. On some of those, Cara is Nik Nik’s “favorite girl.” Nik Nik and his father before him have generally been the sort of authoritarian rulers who trade protection for tribute.

Adam Bosch, who invented the traversing technology, lives in Wiley City. He uses that technology to acquire minerals and stock tips and other valuable information from the parallel Earths, some of which exist in the future. Adam is evil in a greedy, hubristic way that makes him easy to dislike — particularly when it becomes clear just how twisted and murderous he is — but like the Earth Zero Nik Nik, Adam is little more than a stereotype. Adam is the Wiley City version of Nik Nik, more a capitalist king than an emperor, but the two men have a connection that is meant to be important to the plot. To the extent that The Space Between Worlds is a soap opera, huge revelations that are turn out to be relatively meaningless are part of the formula. A more interesting revelation, although one that comes early in the plot, is that the death-prone Cara isn’t who we think she is.

The story follows Cara as she visits a few different Earths, encounters different versions of Nik Nik and Bosch, and even encounters herself, which isn’t supposed to be possible. She has moderately interesting adventures and occasionally ponders how people might develop in different ways under different circumstances. That’s an interesting concept that should be enough to carry the story, but key parts of the plot go nowhere. Cara experiences emotional woe because she loves Dell on pretty much every world but doesn’t think that Dell could feel the same about poor trash from Asheville. Cara gets along with Nik Nik on world 175 but hates him everywhere else. All of which left me wondering if the story would ever go anywhere. It really doesn’t. At least, it doesn’t go far enough to justify the set up.

I appreciate the fluidity of Micaiah Johnson’s prose and the thought she put into the concept of traversing. I appreciated the characterization that went into Cara, although other characters are one dimensional. I would have appreciated the plot if the story had realized its potential. Where the story could have explored themes of nature and nurture, it instead becomes a muddle as Cara visits a handful of alternate Earths, all the while fretting about whether Dell will ever love her as much as she loves Dell. The story loses energy and fizzles out entirely by the last chapter. I was disappointed that The Space Between Worlds didn’t live up to the hype that has surrounded it, but I did enjoy significant parts of the story.

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Cara lives in a world where multiverse travel is possible. She would know, as a traverser  she travels to different Earth’s collecting data. Thing is, she can’t travel to an Earth where she already exists. There are 382 of them...Cara has died on all except 8.

Cara manages. She doesn't much like the company she works for, she knows they are using her and people like her:

"The needed trash people. Poor black and brown people. People somehow on the 'wrong side' of the wall, even though they were the ones who built it. People brought for labor, or came for refuge, or who were here before the first neoliberal surveyed this land and thought to build a paradise. People who’d already thought this was paradise. They needed my people. They needed me."

Cara sits between two worlds. Wiley City and Ashtown. 
Not only does Cara go against the rule of not interacting with your doppelganger, she suddenly finds herself caught in between a violent and deadly rivalry between brothers. 

The worldbuilding here was extremely well done. A bit hard to follow initially (because there is much going on) but still stellar. This author's ability to keep the pace moving while giving us such a flawed character in Cara and those she interacted with is something rare you see in this genre. Micaiah Johnson also doesn’t shy away from dark and gritty. The intersectionality of racism and classism is palpable on page. 

If you’re a fan of high range science fiction-fantasy, then I highly recommend adding A Space Between Worlds to your reading list with a quickness.
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This Book of the Month pick did not disappoint! This was hard to put down! I enjoyed Johnson's writing style and I look forward to reading her other works!
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Stars: 5 out of 5

This is by far one of the best books I've read in 2020, and I have read over  90 books so far this year.

Here is the premise: multiverse travel is possible thanks to the technology discovered by a brilliant inventor on what is called Earth Zero. Unfortunately, in order to traverse the space between worlds and survive the integration into the new reality, the traveler needs to be dead on the other side. So basically, you can only travel to worlds in which the local version of you is already dead, otherwise it would be like trying to push yourself into a space that is already occupied. The results are... bloody and definitely fatal to the traversee.

So even though scientists are biting at the bit to go and explore different versions of reality, most of them come from wealthy backgrounds, which means they are alive in almost all those realities. So people from disadvantaged backgrounds make the best traversees. People who live in poverty and hunger, in war thorn villages, and places ravaged by disease.

Cara, our protagonist, is one of those people. She is dead in all but a handful of the 300 or so worlds that can be visited from Earth 0. She is worth something to the company she works for precisely because she is so worthless to the rest of reality that it's a miracle she survived at all.

I loved Cara as a characters. She is deeply flawed and has a huge chip on her shoulder. She is convinced that she is worthless, that she is scum, that doesn't deserve love, affection, or even happiness. Part of it is because of her upbringing, part of it is because she studied how all of the other versions of herself died, part of it is because she has a secret she is ashamed of.

This perception of unworthiness taints Cara's view of everything in the world as well as her relationships with people she loves. And it's infuriating and painful to watch sometimes. She immediately assumes the worse in any situation and acts on that assumption, often creating conflict where there wasn't any or hurting people who didn't mean any harm to her. 

A lot of times I just wanted to shake her and tell her to just stop assuming and actually TALK to people. Especially when it comes to her relationship with Dell. She loves Dell, but she had decided that Dell doesn't reciprocate the feeling, that she is either indifferent or flat out hates her instead. And she decided that without even talking to Dell about it. Really? A lot of hurt feelings and misunderstandings could have been averted if those two had sat down and talked things through at least once.

It was very interesting and satisfying to see Cara grow as a person. She starts the book as someone only looking out for herself. Someone who is trying so hard to fit in with the citizens of the City that she is shunting everything that remind her of her roots. It's very fulfilling to see her realize that those roots make her who she is now. That she is worthy of love and admiration as a person she is, not just as a commodity that can hop between worlds. 

I like that by embracing those roots she realizes that there is only so much that her moral compass would let her do, and when she stumbles into a dangerous plot and has a choice to make between going along and living in comfort and being ashamed of herself for it, or going with her conscience and trying to stop the people responsible, and probably die in the process, she chooses the later.

There are a lot of important themes in this book. What is the value of human life? What length would you go to to pursue your dream? Can people change, and more importantly, can your perception of people change based on their actions? 

And the most important message of all, I think - you can find happiness if you accept yourself fully, flaws and all.

2020 has been a difficult year for all of us, and I found that message of hope was extremely timely and uplifting.

PS: I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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This was a struggle for me. Initially, I really enjoyed the writing, I liked the attitude of the main character, and the idea of traveling to other universes was super cool.  As I continued into the story though, it's just terribly confusing. I ended up going back and re-reading things constantly because I felt like I missed something. There was a scene where the whole time I thought she was talking with her mother, then the next scene, she was leaving to go visit her mother, and I was like, wait, so who was that other scene with? And I had to go back and read it again. I'm not normally this confused in stories. I think that there were details missing that would have helped make things clearer. 

The other thing that really bothered me was the character's age. She's in her mid-twenties, but she acts, speaks, and thinks like a teenager. I had a hard time believing her age, which made the love stories a bit awkward because I kept forgetting how old she actually was.

Overall, I did not enjoy this book, and I'm so disappointed that I didn't. I had high hopes for this one, and it just didn't work out.

I was provided a gifted copy of this book for free. I am leaving my review voluntarily.
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While the world building and characterization are amazing, it's slow going to untangle the actual plot from the details. I found it confusing and not quite worth the effort
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The space between worlds is scfi that focuses on travel between the multiverse. This was fun and triller ride with so many twist and turns that make your head go around. Cara was interesting mc to follow, I thought her story was engaging and complex. Overall if your looking for a good scfi I recommend this one
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*Catching up on old reviews*

I enjoyed this book.  I'm not 100% sure on my thoughts about reading a future installment, if there is one, but I enjoyed it as a standalone.  There were definitely some *gasp* moments and I loved the edgy sci-fi elements.  I'd recommend it for fans of Dark Matter (Crouch).
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I went into this extremely excited for the premise. The book features strong writing and character work, but after about 20% I struggled to keep up with the character and the happenings of the many different worlds. The many versions of the main character started to melt together a bit for me and I couldn’t keep track of what the main character had actually experienced. It’s an interesting approach, but personally I had difficulty keeping up and DNF.
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I'm all for a YA dystopia novel (especially with sci-fi themes) but this book just didn't end up working for me. I had read a lot of the good reviews and high ratings on Goodreads, so maybe this is a case of just not living up to expectations.

The story revolves around a young woman who is able to travel to different (almost identical) worlds. This premise reminded me a lot of "Dark Matter" by Blake Crouch, so I was definitely able to get behind the framework for the novel. However, there were way too many characters (in the main world and otherwise), so I felt confused most of the time reading this. I also felt like I had to concentrate really hard and go back and reread passages, which is always the sign to me that I'm not really enjoying a book. 

There were things I enjoyed of course - mainly a LGBTQIA+ romance and that this was written by an OwnVoice author. But otherwise, this might have just been the wrong fit for this reader.
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An inventive look at the multiverse set in a utopian city surrounded by a mad max wasteland. The science of world traveling requires the most unlucky of all. Meet your hero.
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I really enjoyed this book. It was entertaining and gave a good description of how world travel worked without going into an inordinate amount of boring detail. I found it intriguing just from reading the description and found myself really invested in the main characters story. I also loved that it wasn’t totally predictable. I’m hoping there are going to be more books and this becomes a series...because I can see it going either way. 
I will say, I wish there was more about Cara and Dell in The Space Between Worlds. I loved their story and it left me WANTING! 
If you like Sci-fi, this is a good one. It’s not crazy hard to understand but gives you just enough to get by!
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If you like sci fi novels about alternate universes, scrappy protagonists, deceit, hope, and lady badassery, this one is DEFINITELY for you.
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