Confusing, gorgeous, fun, clever, and GAY! Gosh, I absolutely loved this. I'd love to see this as a film - cinematic in scope. Wonderful cover too
This book is a weird one for me to describe. A lot of its elements are pure sci-fi thriller: disclosing secrets, running from driven scientists, bouncing from world to world in an instant. And the book has it in spades. But the pace of events in the first half is more akin to a character study as we spend a significant chunk of the book seeing how Hayes learns about the machine and his counterpart’s relationship with his world’s Yusef.
The main character, Hayes is most definitely a flawed protagonist but not one who wants to make the world hurt just because he was. Repeated throughout the book is the idea there are no bad guys, just people who could be with specific editing. This includes Hayes. Speaking of editing, I did struggle at times with the story framing reflecting a film director, with insertions of scene setting, direction and other similar elements. While it is useful in some places and provides a helpful shorthand for some scenes it also sometimes feels like a schtick that’s worn out its welcome. In conclusion, there’s a lot to like here and a lot of great ideas, perhaps even too many for the story as it exists on the page.
This is a real original - a gay love story set in a multiverse setting. Tavares keeps finding ways to spin a new story on a new familiar trope (alternate universes) - the queer lens add extra depth to it. I think this could be and should be a huge hit.
This is such a hard book to review because it had a lot of elements I should love, but something about it didn’t totally work for me. I loved the narrative framework of Hayes telling his story as if he was storyboarding a screenplay, and I really liked his voice and personality. That being said, I think this story tried to do too much and as a result I couldn’t get fully invested in it.
I sort of feel like this book was both too short and too long. I think it was too short for the number of ideas it included, like the multiple universes set up was interesting but then it leaned into thriller with plot hinging on this romance but the romance itself never felt fully fleshed out to me which made buying into the plot difficult. I’m not sure if it was the pacing of the book overall or the narrative style where Hayes was telling us the highlights of how he and Yusuf fell in love, but I needed to see more of them to believe that they would do what they did in the name of love. Though I did love seeing Hayes rationalize his actions and loved that we got such complex queer characters.
That being said, I liked so many of the elements in this book, that I will be very interested to read whatever Nathan Tavares writes next.
Likeable people can be reprehensible. Gay men who will do literally...literally...anything for the men they love can be villains. Because, you realize as Hayes perpetrates some truly terrible actions while retaining the same charm and winning ways as led you to invest in him from the beginning, the world doesn't have that many univalent monsters.
What I love best about stories with flawed protagonists is how relatable they are. We're all flawed. And Hayes, he's flawed enough to make him a menace, what he does...causes...to be the engine of this exciting and action-heavy multiverse thriller. Being awakened to an undreamt-of reality, to be chucked into a world that one never once thought might be real, to have the shocking and sudden revelation that someone until now a stranger is, in fact, The One...that's just the first few pages! This script is gonna keep the butts in the seats with no popcirn trips for sure!
Well...okay, that's a small exaggeration. It's not quite that action-packed but it sure as hell feels as though it is. The strangeness of a filmmaker being the one and only person who could resolve the problem of how to use, whether to believe, a fortune-telling device was, honestly, short-changed. It's a point raised, dealt with by saying, "yep that's how it is" and we're off to the races! In fact, there is a lot of the world-building that is treated in this "just the facts, ma'am" laconic way and then it's Gospel.
You did notice the absence of a fifth star...now you know (most of) why.
The merry chase that Hayes and Yusuf, the inamorato, go on across the dimensions is like reading a spec script from a super-excitable young person with not clue one what "budget" means. What makes that fun is the budget is your mind's dopamine-reward system. What makes that sometimes wearing is the film metaphor is the spine of the book...it is literally holding every scene in the story up, leading them together, and the casting of the characters is exactly that: Casting. It's going to be a rough ride for some. I am one. But the roughnss of the ride isn't a deal-breaker because the way this sled handles is *chef's kiss*
Think of Boston. English people, think of Oxford. Got the picture set? Now...change the color of the streetlights and make the roofs green. That's the experience of traveling in Hayes's multiverse...it really is his, he (one of him) is the inventor of the device that enables all this traveling that we're here talking about. And that Hayes, whom the characters we're following most closely refer to as "Figueiredo" to be clear that they mean the evil SOB who wants (for perfectly understandable reasons) to blow the multiverse up one strand at a time, even he isn't a caricature. Insane. Lost to Humanity. But not ever a risible over-the-top cartoon villain.
But those green-roofed mercury-vapor-lit alt-timelines are real, and he's made it impossible for "our" Hayes and Yusuf not to know, and deal with knowing, what it costs to stay alive in a truly random quantumverse. It changes a person to realize what carnage they've left in their wake through this one "wild and precious life" that Mary Oliver so beautifully committed poetry to describe. Now...think about this...there's a lot more than one, and you now know because you can't not know exactly what carnage you've left behind in it all.
It's damned hard to believe this is Author Tavares's first novel. The economy with which he built the pyre of stakes for each strand of the multiverse...and the aplomb with which he lights the stakes into an inferno of loss and rage and gut-hollowing sadness...usually come to a later-career novelist. It takes time to build faith and willingness to go all in and all out at the looming obstacles armed only with one's talent. Yet here he is, attempting and succeeding first time out.
So maybe a few details fell under the table. A last serving of your favorite dish disappeared and you don't have a dog to blame. Big fat deal! You're in great hands as a truth gets told you: Gay men love hard, care deeply, and fight dirty to protect their man.
Even when it's not pretty.
This is what I look for. It's what I want more of. And it's only his first novel! What a great way to celebrate a new year: Read a high-delivery first novel.
A Fractured Infinity will stay with me for a long time. It's a sci-fi novel that explores how two people are drawn together and how far they're willing to go for love. The multiverse setting and the infinite possibilities it opens up is something that I've mainly come across in film. I was a bit worried if this would scatter the storytelling, but it helped highlight the dynamics and connection between the two main protagonists by showing different versions of their relationship in the parallel universes. A fast paced read that packed a strong emotional punch!
Parallel universe stories are nearly always an automatic hit with me, so I was slightly disappointed by my mixed feelings about this book. The concept was fabulous: a struggling filmmaker has his life up-ended when he learns an alternate version of himself was responsible for creating a machine that can expertly predict the future. I enjoyed following Hayes and his physicist boyfriend Yusuf along their joyride through the multiverse, and seeing the intricate ins and outs of their alternate universe selves. I also enjoyed the unique narrative style of the story, told through snippets of dialogue and descriptions of camera shots, very accurate to the mind of a filmmaker and a storyteller.
However, Hayes was the only character with a believable voice. As much as he frustrated me at times with his choices and selfishness, his flaws made him seem human, which I couldn't say for all the characters. Kaori is nearly there, being an excellent representative of the morally dubious supergenius trope, though she skirts into comic book villain territory at times. Hayes' alter ego was significantly more comic book villain-esque, not helped by the fact that it is hard to pinpoint a true motivation for any of his anger and violence. Yusuf was my greatest disappointment, feeling a bit too much like a cardboard cutout love interest. I wish he'd had more chances to individuate from Hayes - I feel like the tiny snippets we got from Kaori's POV were crucial to building her character, and lacking any perspective of his own Yusuf is swallowed by Hayes' idealization of him. I was also frustrated by the ending - without giving spoilers, I feel like one of the biggest conflicts between Yusuf and Hayes was never properly resolved.
There was a lot going on in this book. A lot of positive things - it's clever, the psychology of the characters is well-built, the future and parallel worlds being described are interesting... I really liked the parallel-world-hoping "road-trip", and that the voice of the main character, Hayes, is so carefully thought and believable. The story is seen through the prism of his job as a director, as if it was a dream documentary. His struggles and his love story with Yusuf were compelling. I wanted to cry when Hayes talked about his late best friend Genesis. The whole concept and existential questions that arose were fascinating, and I liked that a lot.
That said, there was A LOT going on. Maybe a bit too much at times? The narrator disclosed things from the future as a way to build tension, but it dampened some of the plot twists. Likewise, the sentences were quite long, as Hayes had a ramble-y talking/writing style, in a way that also watered down some of the main impactful plot points, rather than putting them in focus and let us process them. I had to read a lot of sentences a second time to realise something major had happened. And so the emotional connection lessened for me as I read more of the book.
It's still a book I enjoyed!
I want to thank Titan Books and NetGalley for gifting me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Before starting this review I was think i'm I don't usually write a summary because it's not easy to summarise this book as there's a lot of could-be, may-be, possibilities and multiple futures.
It's set in a future planet Earth where humanity was able to solve the main issues, climate crisis included, and someone discovered a sort device which can predict the future
The device was invented in a possible by future by Hayes Figueiredo, a film make in the main reality.
This is the start of a story which is also a love story, a sort of Sliding Doors and a struggle to save the one who could be the love of your life.
I loved this story, loved the world building, rooted for Hayes e Yusuf.
There's a lot of world building and the author is a good storyteller.
Many thanks to Titan Books for this arc, all opinions are mine
As I write this, I'm over halfway through the book and, unfortunately, it's been quite a slog getting through it! I was hoping things would pick up and, even though there are definitely huge developments in plot, something just isn't grabbing me. Whilst I love the concept - a struggling filmmaker becomes entangled with a physicist working on a project around alternate universes and must save his life - the execution just isn't working for me.
First of all, the story takes so long to build up, I was left wondering when the action would kick in, which would have been fine if this time had been spent developing the characters' relationships. Instead, the romance feels rushed and, despite a couple of sweet moments, it just doesn't seem to develop naturally. The structure also seems a bit questionable - we have flashbacks of Genesis, the main character's artificially intelligent drag queen friend who meets an untimely demise, as well as snippets of foreshadowing. The former was actually super interesting, leading me to wonder why this character wasn't integrated as part of the present day plot, whilst the latter just sucked the tension out instead of reinforcing it. Then there's bits of dialogue/scenarios that are presented in screenplay formatting (the MC is a filmmaker, let's not forget!) which don't really add anything positive to the reading experience.
Overall, I think I gave this book a fair chance but, despite so many elements that I should have enjoyed, it just didn't come together for me. I think the author has a lot of potential - hopefully his next book will be more up my street!
Many thanks to Titan Books for providing me with a Digital Review Copy.
This was an alright read but it didn't hit the way I expected it or wanted it to. It's a fascinating concept but I felt the execution lacking a little bit and the plot and characters were hard to connect to.
** Book is presented as second in printed column of the Collinwood Observer, along with other versions, one of which is the Euclid Observer, a paper which will come out in the month of December and will be free to readers in and around Cleveland and the surrounding suburbs. While the local news changes in the area my column remains the same. There are hundreds of pick up areas and stand alone paper boxes where readers will get a copy.
Tea Time With A Good Book
Only in December We Substitute With Hot Chocolate ;)
By Jeneane Vanderhoof
With so many great recommendations to close out the year, I wanted to keep them short and plentiful, for under the tree as a gift or a read for yourself on those silent, chilly nights wrapped in a blanket under the twinkling lights.
The Circus Train is a coming of age tale in a mystical, rich, circus, during World War II. It is a tale of strength, courage, love but most of all, endurance, perseverance and overcoming insurmountable, seemingly unwinnable odds. Next, for science fiction/ fantasy fans we turn to the writings of Nathan Traverse in A Fractured Infinity. Hayes Figueiredo, an unsuccessful movie maker, brought to the envisioner, a machine that can't be explained; not where it came from, how it works, even what it does. A complex, metaverse tale that wraps around your mind, not once, or twice but over and over and back to wrap again!
For fans of historical fiction, Philipia Gregory wraps up her series with the long awaited finale to the Fairmire Series with Dawnland. Livia is well, Livia, up to her old schemes. This time, however, her plans may well include royalty, up to, and including, the heir to the English throne. You won't want to miss this masterpiece. And those who want a writer with a strong pen when it comes to looking toward the Lord for strength, there is The Finding of Miss. Fairfield by Grace Hitchcock. Finally, for mystery lovers there is Coached Red Handed by Victoria Laurie. When Cat's client is murdered after a session in which she provided coaching advice she can't help but feel devastated, intent to catch who done it. An instant, new, favorite of mine!
For the Christmas book every reader must have this season, The Naughty or Nice Clause by Kate Callaghan. When Llyas dead father's toy factory is saved from bankruptcy, to appease her co-CEO Mr. Mason Klaus, she must travel to his family's magical wonderland for twelve days. A romance that will knock your stockings off their chimney hooks! Just don't let Santa catch you with this book, you may end up on his naughty list!
To all my readers, Please go to the online version of this article for a longer review, it's provided with more books for yourself and gifts for the holiday reader of all types and genres! Also, my Goodreads page, Jeneane Vanderhoof.
Happy Holidays and Happy Reading!
I wanted to like this a lot but it just did NOT hit right. The writing of Muslim characters was weird and I found it really hard to deal with that
Have you ever wondered what your life would be like if you’d made a different decision? If you’d have quit your job instead of sticking it out, if you’d have asked out that person you had a crush on, if you’d have decided to take that trip you were always thinking of? Chances are that there’s a universe out there where you did make those choices, where there’s a version of you living a very similar life, and a version of you living a completely different one (if multiverse theory is correct, at least). A Fractured Infinity, the latest release from Titan Books, takes readers on a journey into the multiverse to discover some of these possibilities.
The story begins on a deserted beach, bright pink sand making its way towards a rich, turquoise ocean. We meet Hayes Figueiredo, a young filmmaker with a story to tell. Speaking to his camera, he begins to explain how his life was forever changed, how he met the man he loves, and how he now sits on a beach on another Earth whilst his own world faces annihilation, and how it’s all his fault.
From here we jump backwards in time, meeting Hayes as he’s secluded away at a creator’s retreat, having locked himself away in a small cabin to edit his latest documentary film; a piece designed to honour the memory of his deceased friend, a drag performing synthetic person who lost their life whilst fighting for equal rights. When Hayes is approached by a group of people, he meets Yusuf Hassan, a handsome young scientist, and finds himself whisked away to a secret facility out in the desert.
Believing that he’s been recruited for his film making skills, or possibly just being abducted by the government for nefarious reasons, he’s shocked when he’s presented with video footage of himself working with a strange device. Shocked, because even though the man in the footage is him, he has no memory of it at all. Hayes is let in on one of the most guarded secrets on the planet: that humanity discovered a strange device that seems able to predict possible futures, a device called the Envisioner.
Upon studying the device, the people in the facility learn that it came from a parallel world, and that it was created by that world’s version of Hayes. Now Hayes find himself working on the Envisioner project, trying to help crack the secrets of his other self, and whilst there he begins to fall in love with Yusuf as the two of them grow closer. However, unlocking the secrets of the Envisioner is only the beginning of a story that will lead Hayes on a journey through the multiverse.
If you pick up a copy of A Fractured Infinity, the back of the book describes the story as being like Rick and Morty, but I think that if you’re coming to this hoping for weird and wacky multiverse shenanigans you should throw that expectation out the window. That is not this book. It deals with other worlds, yes, but that’s about as far as the comparison goes. In a lot of ways, it’s closer to another story the blurb compares it to, The Time Traveler’s Wife. At its heart, once you strip away all of the weirdness and science talk, this book is a love story, and a story about how far people are willing to go to save the people that they love.
The relationship between Hayes and Yusuf is the emotional heart of the book, and the most important part of the story. In many ways it is the driving force for a lot of what happens here. There are things that happen in the book that will set the two characters onto a course that will lead them to visit multiple worlds, and will have billions of lives riding on the outcome, but it’s all down to their relationship in the end. There’s an instant attraction between the two of them, and it’s quite cute to see the early days of their relationship, as each of them tries to figure out if the other likes them, and how to go about pursuing that.
I love that even in a future where there seems to be no issues around queer relationships, and where these two people are working in such close proximity that they’re pretty much the only person the other knows, there’s still that feeling of being unsure, or being too nervous to take that first step. It’s a feeling most people will know well, and really helps to humanise the characters here. They’re not confident guys who ask each other out, they’re not thrust into a situation where they suddenly both realise they’re in love, they’re nervous and shy, and it’s so wonderfully real.
As well as giving really wonderful queer representation, the book also writes Yusuf, a character who is never named as such, but appears to be autistic, very well. He has a lot of moments where he has difficulty processing things that are going on, and he goes quiet whilst he figures things out and works out the best response. He isn’t great at talking to Hayes about certain subjects, but really comes to life with passion when he gets to dive into science and his passions. It’s a wonderfully real and kind depiction of autism that never makes a big thing of it, that never tries to other or lessen Yusuf, and just treats him as any other character. More books need positive depictions like this.
A Fractured Infinity is a wonderfully complex book, filled with huge scientific ideas, and a plot that spans multiple universes, yet is presented so simply and deftly that even the most basic of laymen can keep up with things. Nathan Tavares crafts an engaging and enthralling story filled with interesting characters and ideas that was hard to put down, and that I was sad to see go once it was done.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an arc in exchange for this honest review.
Honestly, I think there’s something wrong with me. Because cause I did not like this book, but so many others seem to and praise the very things that put me off.
I think one of my biggest issues is the writing itself, which really isn’t to my taste, to put it lightly. The attempts of humor fell flat and just became incredibly annoying, the flow of the prose killed any spark of interest that arose, rather than suck me into the story and immerse me in the world.
Plot wise it was a bit of a mess, but not in a way I enjoy and while that isn’t an issue when I enjoy the characters and their relationships, I couldn’t say that for this book either. The romance never really felt believable to me, though there were some quite sweet moments, which were SO GOOD I almost forgot how much I wasn’t enjoying this book. This nearly brought the book up by one or two stars and would have, if not for an issue I’ll get to in a bit.
The Muslim rep felt so,,, off to put it bluntly. I’m not Muslim, so it’s not really my place to dictate if it’s bad or not, but I’ve discussed it with some friends who agree. I won’t get too far into it, as it isn’t my place, but to briefly summarize it: the LI is Muslim, or he at least has Muslim parents. When religion was brought up, it was made pretty clear that Yusuf isn’t actually religious. The book then goes on to describe how religious his parents are and how they don’t accept him, including because he’s gay. In fact, his only family remember who does support him being gay is his cousin Salma (whose only briefly mentioned), who, surprise, isn’t very religious either and has him buy her vodka in secret. Now to me, it felt VERY off that the only Muslim characters who are made out to be good people are those who aren’t very religious and only count as Muslims on account of being born to Muslim parents, meanwhile the actually religious Muslims are evil and homophobic. I’m all for portraying homophobes as evil people, but c’mon, not all Muslims are homophobes and many gay Muslims exist. To rub salt in the wound, since this book is about the multiverse, there’s another universe where Yusuf is born to a Christian family and generally he seems to have lived a happier life, at least until a certain tragedy struck. Again, I’m not Muslim, so I don’t have the lived experience to properly say if it is. But it felt very off and silence on the subject would feel even worse still.
Anyways, incredibly promising premise, but it ultimately failed to deliver something I’d enjoy, on multiple levels.
This review will also be up on my Instagram (@kratist0) at the start of December or end of this month.
I had to keep checking if this book was a debut, as Nathan's writing is so clear and engrossing. Sometimes you just stumble upon a novel that is wonderfully perfect in every way, and A Fractured Infinity is that for me. Extremely clever, heartwarming and filled with action this novel has to be one of my all-time favourite reads of the year
a thrilling, imaginative and breakneck ride -- if somewhat lacking in the characterization department (this is more of a personal reference)
however i do appreciate the author's mindful treatment of kaori's character, our only female mc. she's fierce, she's formidable, she's morally grey in a way that would have earned her the spot as the villain in another fictional universe and, when it's all said and done, a free trip to the guillotine while our heroes are seen riding off into the sunset. no, no, kaori is antagonizing in all the best ways possible -- and she gets her own ride into the sunset as well. cheers to that.
~too good to be a debut
~an android drag queen
~rewriting the laws of physics = true love
~it is, in fact, illegal to be that smart
Every now then, a debut comes along that makes you do a double-take; that makes you go online to check that it really is a debut, because no way. No way! What?! How can somebody’s debut be this freaking brilliant?!
I double-checked, folx. This really is Tavares’ first published novel.
It’s very hard to believe after reading it, though. It’s just so good!
Fractured Infinity takes place in a near-future where humanity has more or less gotten their shit together; climate change is being fixed, the cures for all cancers have been found, and the world’s running on clean energy, finally. The USA has been knocked off its pedestal – hard – and broken into a bunch of different pieces, including the Commonwealth of Great Basin Nations, a sovereign territory of Indigenous peoples, which is the setting for the first chunk of the book.
Because that’s where the top-secret facility is. The one with a machine that predicts the future. Which might, or might not, be a gift sent to our world from another universe.
None of this means anything to Hayes, who makes indie documentaries that are probably never going to make him famous. But it was an alternate version of him – another universe’s version of him – that built the machine, and that makes him involved.
Hayes is a brilliant, incredibly relatable, incredibly human main character, and I’m so glad Tavares decided to write Fractured Infinity in first-person, because Hayes’s voice – and the style of his narration – is a big part of what makes this book rock. He’s a mess with a huge heart, capable of morphing into whatever’s required for him to Get The Story but with a streak of something so damn genuine running through him at the same time, underneath his facade of blithe confidence. He’s a little bit broken and he cares so very much and sometimes he gets mad at reality, but that doesn’t stop him from trying to make it just a little better.
Or: he’s selfish and irresponsible, an unreliable narrator, manipulating the reader, always ready with a justification. He claims he’s no one special but acts as if he is, decides the rules don’t apply to him, fucks over multiple universes so he gets to keep his boyfriend.
Both these descriptions are true. So is he a good guy or a villain?
Neither. Both. It’s just not that simple.
Hayes isn’t just narrating: he’s actively talking to the reader, which gives Tavares so much more narrative freedom. For instance, telling-not-showing is something that typically drives me up the wall. (Because it’s usually done badly.) But here, it makes sense – Hayes summarising the Hardcore Science for us as best he understands it, etc – and even more importantly, it works; it’s not a lecture, it’s a conversation that the reader is a part of. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Hayes is so personable, so self-aware and sarcastic and wry when he’s talking to us (as opposed to when he’s talking to Yusef). Every so often he pauses to have an ‘if this were a movie’ moment, which a) are always brilliant and b) really highlight that despite living in the future, the Millennial vibes are strong in him!
<“And Hayes Fig,” the voice continues—notice the nice white bread last name because this movie can’t have two ethnic-y leads, not when it’s already a gay story, I mean really—“was so used to helping others fight for their rights and tell their stories. But what about his own story?”>
Which is not to say that the rest of the cast are slacking off: Yusef is impossible not to adore, simultaneously super sweet and brilliantly rational. As someone on the spectrum myself, he read as autistic to me – so much so I was actually surprised the word was never used. He’s funny and incredibly intelligent, passionate and a little shy, beautifully and mercilessly logical, out to make the world a better place and wary of the temptations of a machine that tells the future. I had no problem seeing why Hayes would fight so hard to keep him alive, and keep him period.
Kaori also deserves a mention: the head of the project studying the machine, she’s even better at camouflage than Hayes, and ruthless in going after what she wants. And I liked her. I’m sure not every reader is going to, but even if you don’t like her I think everyone has to appreciate her, not just for her genius-level smarts but because she’s interesting, all secrets and masks around a core of adamant.
And – perhaps ironically, perhaps obviously – she’s really the clearest-eyed person in the whole book.
Other than Hayes’ voice and style, what I loved most about Fractured Infinity was that it just refused to colour inside the lines, to play to expectations. Yusef does not freak out about something that we would usually see love interests freak out about; one of the villains, who could have been demonised so easily as cold and unlikeable, is not (and in fact both Hayes and the narrative repeatedly acknowledge that said person can’t really be considered a villain at all); and most of all, Tavares is not afraid to go there. Over and over again, he writes in what I can only call the dangerous direction, delving deep into the ugly, selfish parts we all have, asking tough questions and asking us to ask tough questions – of the characters and ourselves. We all know what the answer to the central premise is supposed to be – if it’s a choice between one life or billions, then you trade in the one. We know this. It’s obvious.
And yet – would you do it? Could you? When it’s not a nameless faceless hypothetical stranger, but someone you love?
Could you live with yourself after making either choice?
None of this feels like shock value: none of it is just because. And this is absolutely not a gotcha!-book. Instead, I’d call it…honest. Fast-paced and unstoppable as a train crash, full of utopias and disasters, what a story looks like when it’s not been sanded smooth and sanitized to fit what we think fiction is supposed to be. Despite the whole hopping-between-universes thing, Fractured Infinity reads like painfully, achingly real life, instead of following the script.
You know what I mean by ‘the script’. Outside of something like grimdark, as a general rule of thumb when we pick up a (SFF) novel we know it’s going to end more or less okay, and probably fairly happily. The bad thing never actually happens. The villains never actually win. No matter what the author puts you through, you know, deep down, that the love interest isn’t actually going to die. Etc. At the very last second there’ll be a secret uncovered or a loophole discovered and everything will be okay.
Fractured Infinity is not grimdark; not even close. And I’m not saying that Yusef dies! (…I’m not saying he doesn’t, either.) But that ending? I couldn’t believe Tavares went there. I couldn’t believe he went that far off-script.
I loved it. Loved it loved it LOVED IT. That ending catapulted Fractured Infinity from a solidly excellent four and a half stars to an utterly superb five stars. It’s been 48 hours since I finished it and I’m still stuck in a book hangover; I haven’t been able to read anything else because deep down, I’m still going AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
In a good way. The best way.
Lots of stories are about love. This one is a question: when you say you’d do anything for love, do you really mean anything?
This is a compelling, unconventional debut that is too freaking awesome to be a debut; a book that’s easy to read, but hard to recover from. I need absolutely everyone to read it, and if I don’t see it all over the best-of-the-year lists come December, I will be outraged.
I still can’t believe this is Tavares’ first published novel, and if you think I’m not setting up Google alerts to notify me of what he writes next, you are so wrong.
A Fractured Infinity is a fast-paced and thrilling book, centred around the question of what one man will do to save the person he loves. It was a book I read in just a few sittings and one that I didn’t want to put down at any point.
The story follows Hayes, who is picked up out of his hideaway beach hut by mysterious strangers and spirited away to a secret laboratory where it transpires that he could be the key to understanding a machine that can tell the future, a machine that appears to have been made by him. In the process of examining this machine, he falls in love with Yusuf, leading to the aforementioned “what will he do when it turns out that saving Yusuf’s life risks the lives of billions of other people” question.
Probably what I enjoyed most about this one was Hayes. This is a book that presents itself to you as Hayes recounting the story to a camera, documenting everything before one last act. He is, in some respects, a not wholly reliable narrator, but at the same time, he doesn’t shy away from his flaws and mistakes he has made. To him, in the calculus of Yusuf’s life compared to billions, he’ll always fall on the side of Yusuf. This, to me, makes him a fascinating character. He’s willfully selfish and obviously not doing what he’s doing out of any altruism. He admits this to himself, even as he doesn’t to Yusuf. So you are, in part, left asking the question of who is the real villain here? Hayes, Figueiredo, or Nakamori? Is anyone?
For all that Hayes is selfish and thinking most only of himself, he is still a likeable character, which is why the book, with this as its premise, actually works. You like both Hayes and Yusuf so you can’t help but root for them to somehow find a way out of things, even as you realise the question is basically one life versus many (and also, in that respect, the ending is an interesting question of does Hayes remain sympathetic to you?).
As I said at the start, this was a fast-paced read and that’s possibly where my one point of contention lay. There was a lot of worldbuilding that was expanded on, and then left by the wayside. Not all of it was needed for the plot, I’ll allow, in which case, why introduce it in such depth? Maybe I’m nitpicking here—overall I really enjoyed this book, and this isn’t really much of an issue. But it’s a point I noticed.
However, if you’re looking for more universe-hopping science fiction, featuring gay characters, then this is the book for you!
Fractured Infinity by Nathan Tavares is a multiversal lovestory a genre savvy sci-fi with a strong emotional core. While not all of the choices made worked for me, I think this was a strong entry in the alternate dimension story canon.
The story centers Hayes and his love for his version of Yusef backdropped across the infinite dimensions – and we know this instantly due to the framing narrative that overlaps most of the story. This framing narrative has a habit – especially earlier on in the book – of hopping back and forth in a way I found confusing, revealing more than I would have liked about characters, motives and outcomes before their time.
The romance itself was sweet, between two men on the younger side of middle aged, very different and yet able to make things work together, for long enough before the sci-fi plot starts putting them in jeopardy.
You see, Hayes alternate self built multiversal prediction engines, and shunted a whole load of them off into other universes. Hayes himself is a struggling documentary film maker, but the manipulate scientist Kaori brings him onto the project to potentially exploit any similarities with his alternate self. The director element gets played into a lot with the narrative, with Hayes’ first person POV imagining the voice-overs and cinematography that moments could have had. It’s mostly a neat touch to the story, but I’m not sure it adds much beyond a bit of style.
My favourite aspect of the book is a character that is gone by the time the story starts, Hayes’ best friend Genesis, activist and subject of his latest documentary in progress. Her impact on him is a powerful one, elevating the story and contrasting his own struggles. There are some emotionally powerful moments in the book, and the ones involving Genesis are impressive considering she’s only present in Hayes’ recordings and memory.
It takes the story a while to break free from the compound where the device is kept into alternate universes, which I would have found less frustrating had I not known where Hayes ends up in the framing narrative, with his teasing of infinite universes. There was also one big choice at the end of the book that… well, didn’t quite sit right with me.
Fractured Infinity is a flawed multiverse story that has enough merits that I can’t help thinking will find an audience who truly loves it. I almost got there, but it’s good enough for me to recommend to those who like their sci-fi with a dose of love, albeit a potentially tragic one.