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Book Reviews

Review: “A Thousand Pieces of You,” Claudia Gray

September 15, 2015
Review: “A Thousand Pieces of You,” Claudia GrayA Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird #1)
Written by Claudia Gray
Published November, 2014 by HarperTeen
368 pages
Genres: Romance, Sci-Fi, Time Travel
Purchase: The Book DepositoryBookworldBooktopia
Add to Goodreads
four-stars

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.

From page one we are thrown into the action. Claudia Gray has done a fantastic job of establishing her world, technology and plot and making sure the reader is hooked from the very first page. To be honest, I was a little worried I wasn’t going to love this one, as Claudia Gray books and I have an odd relationship. While I always love the premise of her books, I’m yet to read one that has absolutely blown me away. While A Thousand Pieces of You wasn’t PERFECT, it was pretty high up there on the enjoyability factor.

“Apparently, when people travel between dimensions, their physical forms are “no longer observable,” which is a quantum mechanics thing, and explaining it involves this whole story about a cat that’s in a box and is simultaneously alive and dead until you open the box, and it gets seriously complicated. Never ask a physicist about that cat.”
– Marguerite

This book was such a pleasant surprise! I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I know for sure I got more than I bargained for.

I thought the premise was amazing and the way Claudia Gray executed the science behind the Firebird devices was so well done. Sometimes, science-y stuff goes way over my head and I was so glad she was able to explain it in a way that wasn’t exactly ‘dumbed down’ but still managed to remain simplistic. I’m sure this book could have been way more SCIENCE-Y, but as it is now, it holds the perfect balance between action, romance and sci-fi.

Our main character, Marguerite, is not exactly my favourite YA heroine ever, but she’s alright. I didn’t particularly develop strong feelings for her either way, but I was still able to enjoy the story through her eyes. What rubbed me the wrong way was how easy she was to get fired up, and how easily this fire could be put out. It’s mentioned in the book as one of the things Paul loves about her, but I found it quite annoying when it came down to the nitty gritty stuff. In an almost life-or-death situation, Marguerite was flip-flopping all over the place when it came to what – and who – she believed in.

Marguerite’s first foray into the world of the Firebird is a futuristic London, which was pretty interesting to experience. Then she, Paul and Theo then ‘jump’ to a modern day Imperial Russia, which really isn’t so ‘modern’ after all. While a lot of other readers loved this part, I felt it was a little sluggish compared to the rest of the book. A Thousand Pieces of You was so fast-paced before Marguerite and Paul’s Firebirds went out of commission. Don’t get me wrong, I usually LOVE anything to do with Imperial Russia, but this time around I felt like it was trying a little too-hard for my tastes. I felt as if I was being spoonfed facts about the royalty, aristocracy and Russian customs.

“I would love you in any shape, in any world, with any past. Never doubt that.”
– Lt. Paul Markov

While ‘trapped’ in Russia, the romance aspect of the book really comes into play. Marguerite finds herself falling fast for Lt. Paul Markov, the ‘Paul’ of that dimension. Since his Firebird is gone, the Paul she knows fades into the background, dormant inside this dimension’s counterpart. Marguerite doesn’t quite know who she loves, or if it’s possible to love the two of them – two of the same person. I was a bit ‘eh’ at this aspect of it.

Yeah, the relationship was kind of sweet, but I couldn’t get past the fact that ‘our’ Marguerite was steering Russian Marguerite’s life down a very dangerous path. Marguerite kept making INCREDIBLY STUPID decisions that would have dire consequences for the Marguerite of that dimension once she’d skipped off home. Not only did she make a certain mistake once, but she consciously decides to make it again and risk the real Marguerite’s position and possibly her life. I found it extremely selfish of her as well as quite hypocritical (particularly later when the topic of ‘ethics’ comes up).

With my faith in Marguerite quite shaky, we then head to a dimension that’s almost the same as ‘ours’, but not quite. We then get to experience a really awesome dimension that sees the world we know almost underwater, with a majority of the population living in dome-like stations beneath the sea. Marguerite handled the turn of events here pretty well (without spoiling too much) which I was quite impressed with, so her likeability factor went up a little.

“Every form of art is another way of seeing the world. Another perspective, another window. And science—that’s the most spectacular window of all. You can see the entire universe from there. So it’s like we gave each other the whole world, tied up in ribbon.”
– Marguerite

There’s a slight love triangle… or maybe square?… in the book between Marguerite, Paul, Lt. Paul and Theo. While Marguerite doesn’t exactly reciprocate Theo’s strong feelings, she does wonder about them and admits she finds him attractive. It’s not really a WHO WILL SHE CHOOSE scenario, as Marguerite is firmly team Paul once she figures out the truth behind the conspiracy. The boys, however, are quite determined to protect Marguerite at all costs and I couldn’t help but wonder WHY. Why was one of them not in love with Marguerite’s older sister, Josie, who seemed equally as awesome? Why was everyone so in love with ‘Meg’?

To be honest, my favourite couple was between Marguerite’s parents.

All minor irks with the characters aside, I really loved the plot of A Thousand Pieces of You and the way in which Claudia Gray managed to keep us guessing and wanting more. There were some great little surprises in the way of twists and turns, as well as some new questions and revelations. Although this book felt as if it was wrapped up nicely, I do want to read the next installment, Ten Thousand Skies Above You, to see where it heads.

Even if you’re not a sci-fi reader, pick this one up! It’s not too heavy on the science and is very plot and character driven!

About Claudia Gray

Claudia Gray lives in New Orleans. So far, in life, she's been a disc jockey, a lawyer, a journalist and an extremely bad waitress, just to name a few. She especially likes to spend time traveling, hiking, reading and listening to music. More than anything else, she enjoys writing.

 

4 Comments

  • Reply Filippa - Countless Books September 21, 2015 at 2:53 am

    I loved this book and the cover is gorgeous! I’m really looking forward to read the next book :)
    Filippa – Countless Books recently posted…Bookish News #1My Profile

  • Reply Kj September 19, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    Sounds like a great read – I love SciFi so I’m defiantly picking this one up!
    Kj recently posted…Review: The boys of summer by C.J. DugganMy Profile

  • Reply Aentee @ Read at Midnight September 16, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    I agree, my favourite also remains Marguerite’s parents, I hope they get more of a spotlight in the subsequent books :D I wasn’t too fond of the main romance in this story, but the premise really pulled me in and I thought Claudia Gray had some neat social commentary in the book! Looking forward to the sequel.

    Thanks for following me :D I love your blog and the design :D
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    • Reply Brittany @ Nice Girls Read Books September 16, 2015 at 4:53 pm

      Yess, how cute were her parents? That’s an example of true love if I ever saw it in YA, not the ‘I don’t know if I love the real you or this other version of you’ stuff that goes on a bit here :P

      I agree, the premise was the strong factor of this book for me, too! Hopefully in Book #2 I’ll warm up to Paul and the main romance a bit more.

      Thank you so much!! <3 Always happy to connect and make friends with Aussie YA bloggers!
      Brittany @ Nice Girls Read Books recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday XXVIII, Ten Thousand Skies Above YouMy Profile

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