Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Book Review: A Thousand Pieces of You, by Claudia Gray

A Thousand Pieces of You
(Firebird, #1)
Claudia Gray
Hardcover, 368 pages
Harper Teen, Nov. 4, 2014
Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult Fiction
Source: Won in a giveaway @ Feminist Reflections blog

Book Synopsis:  Every Day meets Cloud Atlas in this heart-racing, space- and time-bending, epic new trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray.

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.

My overwhelming reaction to this terrific novel is indescribable. It's just such a wonderful addition to the Young Adult and science fiction genres! I can do nothing but rave about it!  The plot is unique, although it's based on the concept of parallel universes, which is not a new idea in science fiction (or in science fact, for that matter). The characters are wonderful, and totally unforgettable. I can honestly say there was nothing about this novel I disliked! Well, I really shouldn't be that surprised, since I've read one other Claudia Gray novel -- Spellcaster, which had me feverishly turning pages. That was my introduction to this author, and she is now one of my favorites!

The first thing I loved about this novel was that Marguerite's Russian mother, Dr. Sophia Kovalenka, is a physics genius. Kudos to Gray for presenting a woman  scientist! You really don't see many of these in ANY kind of fiction, to my knowledge. I could be wrong, since obviously, I haven't read all of the fiction in this corner of the universe.

Marguerite's father, Dr. Henry Caine, is an English oceanographer/physicist/mathematician, also a genius, who met and fell madly in love with the Russian physicist, after they became research partners for her project on parallel universes.

Both of Marguerite's parents are, in spite of their intellectual achievements, very down-to-earth, easygoing people who have given their daughters (Meg, as she is  known, has an older sister, named Josie) a lot of leeway in their own education. The girls' upbringing has therefore been an unconventional one. Meg's parents are also not  believers in any type of corporal punishment for children, and  they have never "talked down" to their daughters in any way. This makes them automatic heroes, in my book!

Meg herself has, ironically enough, turned out to be an artist. This made me love the book even more, as I was an Art Major in college, and am a very visual person. Fortunately, Mom and Dad have actively encouraged Meg in her artistic pursuits, and accept her totally for who she is. Another plus for this novel and its author!

Aside from her artistic talent, I think Meg is a great character, and I immediately related to her. She is bold, courageous, tenacious, resourceful. Furthermore, her feelings for her family run deep, and she's very close to her father. Her love for him drives her desire to avenge his death.

Meg's close relationship with her father is especially poignant in one of the parallel universes she jumps to, in which she meets him as the tutor to the Tsar's   children.  This was  actually my favorite part of the book, and not  only because of the relationship between Meg and her dad. I cannot reveal more at this point, so as not to spoil things for other readers. 

Gray has made the concept of parallel universes all her own with her unique take on it: Meg decides to use her parents' invention, the Firebird (an allusion to the Russian fairy tale), to hunt down and kill the man she believes is her father's murderer -- Paul Markov, a graduate physics student who has not only worked closely with her parents, but who has also become like a member of her family. And so she pursues Paul through several dimensions, but he is somehow always one step ahead of her.

Helping Meg in her pursuit of Paul is Theo (his last name escapes me at the moment), another graduate physics student who has also worked closely with her family. The description of their travels, and how they manage to contact each other in different dimensions, is riveting and exciting.

The plot is very tightly-knit and complex, yet easy to follow, paradoxically enough. Gray's meticulous physics research, which is obvious in her descriptions of parallel universes theory and other arcane scientific matters, has really paid off. Also, she has really exploited this material in very creative ways. Needless to say, this novel is never boring, nor does the reader ever feel as if they were sitting in on a college science lecture.

All of the characters in the book are compelling and interesting, although not all are thoroughly developed. Gray concentrates on Meg, Paul, Dr. Caine, and Theo. I would have liked more character development for Dr. Kovalenka, but this was not to be.... I think Gray more than compensates for this with the close relationship between Meg and her father. Still, it would have been nice to have gotten more background on Meg's brilliant mother.

The relationship between Meg and Paul is a very unusual, yet absolutely fascinating one. She goes from wanting to kill him to falling in love with him, and he ends up reciprocating her feelings. Gray handles this transformation in a very believable manner, too. I had absolutely no trouble following along; at no time did I question the development of this relationship.

There are, of course, hints of a love triangle, but there's no "insta-love" here, so anyone who detests this type of thing (I don't....sigh....) will not be disappointed.

To sum up, A Thousand Pieces of You is yet another great novel released by the formidably talented Gray. Although it's a YA story, there's plenty to engage older readers as well. Besides, the romance is not a huge part of the story, for those who prefer more action instead. I highly recommend this book to any science fiction fan!



  1. Great review as always Maria.

    I had heard a lot of really good things about this book. It sounds like there are lots of really good ideas in terms of plot, characters and theme.

    There seem to be so many thought provoking concepts from ht scientist parents who daughter is an artist, enlightened parents, the way the parallel Universes are handled, etc.

    I may eventually give this one a read.

    1. Hey, Brian!

      Thanks for the compliment!

      Oh, the hype surrounding this book was well justified!! I can't praise it enough, for all the reasons I mentioned in the review!

      You're so right that there are many thought-provoking elements in this novel. I've discovered that YA authors write fiction that's as serious as fiction for adults, minus, of course, the two things I detest: overly graphic sex scenes, and profanity. I can always read a YA novel with the complete assurance that I will be thoroughly entertained, and provided with interesting themes, with none of that other stuff.

      And yes, Meg's parents are enlightened people. I have always been opposed to parents spanking and yelling at their kids. It was great to read about parents that did neither! (I know that Meg's parents never engaged in such behavior because Gray includes some flashbacks from Meg and Josie's childhoods. Her parents dealt with Meg's impulse to paint on the walls in a very creative way, with NO need for the abusive behaviors I've mentioned above.)

      I hope you do read this book! I'll be very interested in reading your review!

      Thanks for the nice comment!! :)

  2. Great review!

    I've been wanting to read this one but I haven't had the opportunity. But your review has made me even more excited to get it. Great characters, a fascinating romance, and a unique take on parallel universes: I'm sold. I had some fears because all the initial hype, it could have been all smoke, but your review has settle them.

    Dreams @ Once Upon A Dream Books

    1. Hi, Dreams!

      Thank you so much for complimenting my review!! I'm so glad that you've decided to read this book, based on my thoughts about it!!

      This is most definitely one instance in which all the hype has turned out to be true. "A Thousand Pieces of You" is absolutely, hands down, a GREAT read! I know you won't be disappointed!! The characters are indeed fabulous, the romance bittersweet, the plot fast-moving and fascinating.....I just can't say enough GREAT things about this book!!

      Thanks again for such a WONDERFUL comment!! I'll be very interested to read your own review of this novel!! : )

  3. YAY to your review, I'm really glad you enjoyed your copy of it - I was wondering when you will review it :)

    I loved the romance as well especially the character Paul. The world-building plot was pretty great as well, & by far that cover is my most favorite one from last year. Wonderful review Maria! <3 Benish | Feminist Reflections

    1. Hi, Benish!

      Thanks for the compliment on my review!!

      I don't think it's possible to give this novel a negative review; it's just TOO freaking good!! As you can see from my comments about it, I LOVED EVERYTHING about it!! The world-building, the plot, the characters.....I just think it ROCKS!

      I'm so happy I won this book in one of your giveaways!! And yes, that cover is just GORGEOUS!! I loved it SO much, I just HAD to feature it in one of my "Shelf Candy Saturday" posts.

      Thanks again for the SUPER nice comment!! : )


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