Author: Carol Moreira
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Summary (from Goodreads)
You can’t outrun the membrane …
For Tanya turning sixteen sucks. Her former friend Rachel is bullying her, the love of her life doesn’t know she exists and her self-esteem isn’t exactly sky-high. Things go from bad to worse when she gets slimed at a bus stop and finds herself in an alternate universe and faced with another version of herself.
Her alternate universe double is cool and confident, if a bit bossy. P — short for Princess because in Tanya’s eyes she is one — is part of an organization called Resist. Trained in tactical defense, Resist is preparing for an invasion by the Others. But are the Others really mobilizing to take over P’s universe or has there been some kind of galactic miscommunication?
On the other side of the membrane, who can Tanya trust to make it back to her universe alive?
There’s a lot to love in this debut novel from Carol Moreira. I’ve been a massive fan of the Multiverse idea since Philip Pullman did it so well in the His Dark Materials trilogy. Moreira explores the idea of multiple universes, whilst also drawing in the idea of there being multiple version of the same person, like the whole ‘every time I make a decision, a new universe is created in which I made the other choice’ idea. Cleverly, she combines it with teenage insecurity – Tanya’s double, P, is the better, cooler, stronger version of Tanya. We all know as readers that Tanya has it in her to become as good as P, and therefore the journey of the novel should be an exciting one.
There was a lot of imagination on display, with the different universes and the idea of invaders from a ruined universe trying to come through into a different one. The different way that P and the others from her universe talked was a but jarring, but otherwise a clever way of adding a layer of distinction between the two ‘similar but different’ sets of places and characters without making the reader work too hard to keep track.
I also really loved the idea of mind invasion – what a creepy and frightening method of taking control: exerting authority over a weaker mind and erasing that person to use their body for your own nefarious ends. From the physical danger of the invaders pressing against the membrane of P’s universe, to Tanya’s own private mental battle, there was a lot of menace throughout the story.
There were some things that I felt fell a little flat – characters and concepts are introduced thick and fast, not always leaving the reader enough time to get the hang of things. By the end of the novel, there were three different universes, Tempists, Fabricists, Resist members and other groups, none of which I felt were explored sufficiently. I really just wanted it to be longer – for Moreira to take more time over showing us these worlds that she had clearly imagined so vividly. As it stood, there was just enough to carry me through without getting lost, but not enough for me to truly connect with the people and places.
I’m not sure, judging from the end, whether this is intended to be the first in a series, or a standalone volume. Certainly, it could be either. In a way, I hope that there is a sequel, as there was so much going on – even now as I’m typing, I’m remembering other themes and ideas that were brought up throughout the novel – I’d like to see Moreira take one or two of those ideas and really give them close attention and focus.
Overall, then, an enjoyable read, but not without some minor frustrations. Engaging ideas and, to a certain extent, engaging characters – particularly Tanya – but other elements were too quickly introduced to really connect with deeply.
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