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

Posted November 10, 2014 by Debby in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from Publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ARC Book Review: A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia GrayA Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
Series: Firebird #1
Published by HarperTeen on November 4th, 2014
Genres: Parallel Universes, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

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.

3.5 Stars

A Thousand Pieces of You quickly rose to the top of my most wanted list because I am the shallowest human being ever and THAT FREAKING COVER. I’m happy to say that I actually really enjoyed it too. I was scared that it would be disappointing, but it was really entertaining, and I believe the series has potential, even though some parts could have been a little better.

A Thousand Pieces of You tells the story of a world where a new invention allows travels between parallel dimensions. Marguerite, our main character, travels through these dimensions together with Theo, as they hunt down Paul, who they think killed Marguerite’s father. Her parents are the ones who invented the Firebird, a kind of locket enabling the transdimensional travel. But soon it appears there’s more to it than that, and the mystery of who killed Henry and why was definitely a compelling story.

Some plot holes aside, I thought the world building was really cool. The parallel dimensions are variations where small differences extrapolate to create unique worlds. In one world, technology developed much faster, so there’s a ton of future tech. In another, they’re barely at the Industrial Revolution, which may be hard to adjust to if you’re used to having a phone and the internet at your fingertips. Marguerite travels to London, to Russia – where she’s the tsar’s daughter!!!, to an underwater settlement because global warming flooded that dimension… Each adventure thrilled me. I think Russia was my favorite, because it felt like historical fiction, and I’m always into courtly scenes.

The characters are okay, but what I liked most about their characterizations was how this played a distinct role in the parallel universe concept. A lot of the novel focused on how much of a person is consistently the same – their soul or their nature. I love thinking about that kind of thing, and I loved how the characters approached it. They all have their doubts, even about their personal identities, and that was just so human to me. The relationships between them were even more beautiful. Marguerite and her family are just amazing, and it was so nice to see how she loved them in the parallel dimensions but also still missed her own versions. I must say that she slayed me with one of her interactions with her dad. It should surprise no one anymore that this near brought me to tears.

It may be the last time I ever see my father’s face.

I fling myself into his arms and close my eyes as he wraps me in his embrace. “I love you,” Dad whispers. “I have loved you every moment of every hour since you were born. Even before that.”

“I love you too, Dad. I told you that almost every day, and I still didn’t say it enough. I couldn’t have said it enough, no matter what.” A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray (ARC)
And then, of course, there’s the romance. While I’m not at a super high level of shipping, I like the ship a lot – particularly because of how it came to be in the Russian dimension. That setting was just so beautiful and to see how those two fit into those different character roles while also in essence still exhibiting the same character traits… I had some feelings. I didn’t like how the book tried to make it into this dramatic love triangle, so I’m mostly ignoring one side, which admittedly isn’t that strong anyway, and I’m hoping that it will disappear completely in the sequel. I like my ship and I like the way it’s going – the characters’ doubts and reluctance included. It’s realistic, imperfect, and thus, to me, quite beautiful.

Ultimately, what keeps this book from really being “knock-your-socks-off” awesome is the fact that it relies heavily on your suspension of disbelief. There seem to be so many plot holes and iffy things that you just have to let go of to fully enjoy the story. For example, apparently when you use the Firebird and leave your dimension, your body disappears – even though it’s just your consciousness that travels. My thought would have been that your body would fall into a coma, but okay. For some reason the Firebird travels with you, even though matter supposedly cannot travel. Right. And another thing: sometimes it seemed like Paul and Theo remembered the lives of their parallel selves, when logic dictates they should have no knowledge of that. Like, Paul knew what his parallel self had been planning and discovering for months in one dimension, and I was just scratching my head because HOW. And I never understood why Marguerite and Theo would go after Paul in the first place. It was a half-assed revenge fantasy, and especially when it later becomes clear that they left just one or two days after Henry died – they hadn’t even found his body yet – I found it completely unrealistic. Where was the denial? The blind faith that Henry could have maybe survived? And why immediately assume it was Paul? It was pretty shoddily done. Half the time they were traveling through the dimensions, I was thinking, “Wait, why are they doing this again? What in the world is their goal?”

But I did enjoy it, when I could let go of the little things. And it’s often the case with time travel or parallel universe books that things don’t completely add up. Certainly, it could have been done a bit better than what we got, but it is what it is. The ending really pulled it together for me. I had my suspicions about a certain character, but some details still surprised me, and I was happy with the way most of the plot twists were executed. It was entertaining for sure, and that’s what I was hoping for. It is a bit cliché, though, with Marguerite’s sudden “chosen one” status. Honestly, why her? Please stop making every YA trilogy into a magical, fantastical, implausible chosen one story. We can do without that. Really.

Summing Up:

I’m so happy that the book with the prettiest cover ever is not a total let down. This adventure thrilled me. Though it has some issues, the concept of the parallel worlds and particularly how this raised questions about characterizations and relationships stole my heart. There were clichés and plot holes, but when I let that go, I was immensely entertained and completely sucked into the story. I’m excited to see where the story will go next – hopefully not too much of a “chosen one” story – and I do believe I’ll be buying a finished copy so I can hug this cover forever in peace. #shallowbutwhatevs

GIF it to me straight!

Recommended To:

Fans of parallel universes and courtly romances.

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7 responses to “ARC Book Review: A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

  1. I totally agree. That cover is gorgeous!! I HAVE to own it even if it’s entirely for its looks 😛 But at least it sounds like the book deserves the pretty cover, so even better! I really like the multiverse/alternative reality type of ideas in this book, so I will definitely try it out. Thanks for the awesome and super thorough review Debby.

    • Awww, you’re welcome! I hope you enjoy it! I’m nervous about recommending this one because it does have its flaws, but I definitely enjoyed it 🙂

  2. I’m about 1/4 through right now, and I’m having the exact same issue with it, despite my love for the cover and everything else. It just seems like they didn’t even take the time to figure out if Paul really did it or not! Although I guess since I still have a huge hunk left I should withhold judgement. Off to read some more 😉

    • Haha, I think, yeah, you need to just tune out some of your “BUT WHY???” questions to enjoy it. That will bother some readers more than others. I managed to get swept up in the settings (especially the Russian one ♥♥♥) and the romance, so I didn’t mind… Hope you enjoy it!

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  4. AnneMarie

    I absolutely loved this book, and I just wanted to clear one of the plot holes up. SPOILER ALERT. SPOILER ALERT. SPOILER ALERT. I think they left so blindly after Paul because Theo was alternate Theo. He needed to get here to the universe in which all of the dimensional travel was centered. It was one of the alternate versions of London. And Marguerite was a grief-stricken teenager whose world had just been destroyed and who trusted him. So, honestly, I think them leaving is pretty plausible.