A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
First thing first: THAT COVER!
Oh my sweet baby Jesus, it is gorgeous. Watercolour! Skylines! Image flips! Hello beautiful. I know you can’t judge a book by its cover but DAYUM. That is how you get readers: ensnare them with your prettiness.
Beyond that, A Thousand Pieces of You, the first of Claudia Gray’s Firebird trilogy, is an interdimensional sci-fi romance that follows teenage Marguerite as she jumps through dimensions with the help of her mother’s invention to apprehend (read: kill) her father’s suspected murderer, basically-a-brother Paul. What follows is a high stakes race through the dimensions complete with a corrupt corporation, forbidden romance, and plot twists galore.
Marguerite is the artistic daughter of a highly skilled physicist/inventor who created the firebird, a small device worn as a necklace that enables the wearer to visit various dimensions. The idea is that every choice sets a new course in a new dimension; for instance if I wore sandals instead of sneakers one day in my dimension, another dimension would jut off in which I wear the sneakers. The concept is relatively simple and the MC as the artistic black sheep in a family of scientists makes understanding the complicated physics stuff easier, in the sense that the reader doesn’t need to get it because she doesn’t either. Which is great because spontaneous dimension-hopping to hunt a murderer I can take; actual physics makes my head want to explode.
Barring that, Gray doesn’t neglect to explain the concepts behind the interdimensional travel or how the firebird works which makes the book feel realistic and their actions appear plausible even though it can be seen as an outlandish concept. For all I know, there could be another Brittney typing out another review in another dimension. Maybe it’s me. That‘s how real it feels.
The major characters are Marguerite (obviously), Paul (big surprise there), and her parents’ other assistant Theo. Marguerite is quite admirable, fully devoted to her family and those she cares about. She can be impulsive (like jumping immediately into another dimension to hunt her dad’s killer before they even have the funeral. Coulda waited a day) but she thinks things through when it counts and even without her parents’ science brain, she’s smart and figures things out usually before her interdimensional partner.
Theo’s easy to love. Charming and charismatic, he draws you in immediately. It’s so easy to see why Marguerite follows him after Paul: even without a dead father and thirst for vengeance–which, you know, are strong motivators too–he’d be hard to refuse.
Paul… Paul is the most difficult villain to villainize. Like, ever. He’s shy and sweet but in an intense way that makes him magnetic, even without Theo’s charisma. He seems utterly devoted to the Caine family and fiercely protective of Marguerite which makes it almost impossible to hate him. It also helps the reader to identify with Marguerite’s own struggle with his guilt.
This novel is a romance, there’s no denying that. Even with the whole murder mystery thing at the forefront, there is just as much if not more focus on love–more specifically, the love triangle. Actually, it’s more of a love square than a triangle but that whole thing is…it’s impossible to explain. Anyway, it’s not insta-love per se, since she’s known the two guys for years, but in the book itself it moves a wee bit quickly, especially with Theo. This is aided though by the constant flashbacks, particularly in Paul’s case, because they show where its all coming from. Usually I can’t stand romance between long-time friends but A Thousand Pieces of You actually had me rooting for them. Now, which ‘them’ I won’t say…
Okay, fine. Murderous Paul had my vote *hangs head*
Speaking of flashbacks, sometimes in novels they can feel choppy and this novel since it flashes back A LOT. But Gray did remarkably well–the flashbacks (as they should) build on character relationships, reveal personalities, and portray events that seem useful at first and then majorly significant later.
The settings are crazy cool too. London’s party scene, Imperial Russia, an underwater city station–the possibilities are endless and Gray takes full advantage of that. Setting-wise, the reader is never bored and always surprised.
One thing: the beginning is slow. Like, snail’s pace slow. I started this for the first time last summer and had to put it down because I couldn’t get into it. I almost gave up. Now that I’ve read it I can say I thoroughly enjoyed it but I can’t ignore that fact. I started out bored. Once it picks up, though, it picks up for good. So. Many. Plot twists!
So bottom line: read it. Push through it. It’s worth it in the end.
Click here for the book synopsis on goodreads!