A Thousand Pieces of You: Review

November 6, 2014 2.5 star books, 2014, Kim, sci fi or futuristic 40 ★★½

A Thousand Pieces of You: ReviewA Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
Series: Firebird #1
Published by HarperTeen on November 4, 2014
Genres: science fiction
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
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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.

This book. This book, you guys. I wanted angst, and torment, and heartbreak across dimensions. Instead I got a sort of weird sci-fi light story, mixed with historical fiction, and a half-hearted love triangle to boot.

The basic gist is that consciousness swapping across multiple universes is real and scientifically supported. If you like any sort of novel in which the character escapes reality and is able to visit other worlds this will immediately appeal to you. But where the story began to lose me is that it dumps you into the “after the fact” of the protagonists’ emotional journey. She is already in deep mourning for her father who was apparently sabotaged by his graduate student, Paul. There is an attempt to make up for this by showing us flashbacks of family interactions and how Paul, and Theo, another grad student, interacted with Marguerite’s family before, but everything after suffers from the remove from the present. For this sort of story to work at full effect I need to know the family before where the story dumps us. The scant flashbacks did not help.

At the same time, the “multiple universes” angle felt woefully inadequate to me. There are only three (not including our own) universes that Marguerite gets to explore. Your mileage may vary on how many parallel universes it takes to satisfy your itch. In this book we get a barely future London, a “present” that is basically early 20th century Romanov Russia, and a “present” that is heavily aquatic based. Imagine living on the ocean equivalent of space stations. But none of these realities are half as important as the love story that is, apparently, being told across them.

I was happy to accept the explanation of Paul as a super genius to place him as a 19 year old graduate student. I would’ve been otherwise tremendously creeped out by a grad student having apparently very intense feelings for a high schooler. And still, there is a love triangle. Ish. Theo is a standardly aged grad student. He’s at least 22 but most likely older. A 22+ year old crushing on a 17 year old gives me major pause. If Paul hadn’t been explained to be younger I probably would never have finished with the novel.

It makes me sad. So sad. What more do I love beyond romance-centric science fiction? (Not much!!) But here the relationships failed to live up to their potential. There was too much else going on in this novel (what with all the reality jumping) to give even a slight love triangle any weight. Everything seems to work out too conveniently in terms of who lives and dies. For stories to really resonate with me I need sacrifice. I need something that makes a victory worth it.

And this book just loses itself, especially around the midway point. Is it a book about finding/saving Marguerite’s dad or is it a book about finding Paul and saving him/selves? The story doesn’t seem capable of answering this question and it so it settles and View Spoiler » And it also lost me, majorly, when the main character makes a major decisions for an alternate self. View Spoiler »

I see this book being enjoyed by readers who are into it for the “thrill ride” offered by a reality jumping dimensions novel. If that sort of reader is also fine going along with whatever romance the story is pushing then this is a perfect book! Unfortunately, I’m just not that person. There is decent world building for the parallel universes and they are interesting places to be, but if you are also looking for emotional resonance this is is not the story that is going to connect with you. I wish I could’ve been more of the, “Cool! Parallel universes!” type and less the “I wish that heartbreak had been deep and long suffering” type. This would have been a totally different novel for me. Ah well. It certainly does a very fine and fun job of creating different realities. Unfortunately, if you’re looking for emotional resonance in your reading reality you might find this one lacking.



An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review.


kim teal











40 Responses to “A Thousand Pieces of You: Review”

  1. Rebecca

    Great review! I agree with a lot of your points, especially what you said in that second spoiler tag. It really bothered me that Marguerite barely thought about what the ramifications could be for “Duchess Marguerite” after she slept with Paul. And the fact that it’s technically not her body really made me feel kind of squicky about the whole thing. It was bizarre and just felt wrong. The book kind of lost me there, too. Ugh.

  2. J. Oh

    Thank you for that awesome review! I’m still on the fence about if I want to read it or not. The premise isn’t one I’m immediately drawn to (I haven’t read any parallel universe books, nor have I had a particular itch for them yet), but I kind of wanted to try it out. I prefer not to be totally heartbroken when I read, but I do like emotional resonance, so… we’ll see. For now it’s on my to-read shelf, but a bit farther down than others I’m really eager to get my hands on.

  3. Ari

    I really need to finish this book, but so far it is around 3 stars worth and I fear it might go down still (and I don’t have the patience for not linking books). I loved the cover (still do) and the premise was great, but I think the romance killed it for me (I wasn’t a big fan of the main character either).

    Many people liked it and I think I can make myself understand why, but for me it didn’t work. *Sigh*
    Ari recently posted…Review: UnDivided

  4. Savannah

    Thanks for your honest opinion on the story. I have heard both good/bad things, still I want to read the book for myself. I’m a big fan of mutli-universe. Thanks for sharing.
    Savannah recently posted…Review: Dont Touch

  5. Katie @ Spirit of Children's Literature

    Thanks for this review Kim. I didn’t read the spoilers as I am still reading it. I love the concept of parallel universes and am easily sucked into getting any book that includes this in its premise. I’m not a fan of love triangles though, and at this point I don’t like the way the flashbacks affect the pace of the story so far. We’ll see what I think as I get farther in. The book is reminding me a little of All our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill…
    Katie @ Spirit of Children’s Literature recently posted…The Half Life of Molly Pierce (2014) by Katrina Leo

  6. Kate

    I wanted to love this book but only liked it a bit (sort of). I agree, lots of lost opportunities here because the idea is kinda cool.

    1) Theo was a creepy older dude crushing on a high school girl (ew). Why not make Marguerite 18 or 19 – I would be okay if she was a bit older. I believe that we are told that Theo is 3 1/2 years older than her… which isn’t the worst, but still.

    2) Not enough universes – I felt like this book tried to do to much, without putting enough time into building the worlds. The part I liked, seeing Margarita’s life with her Russian counterpart seemed to rushed. Just when I started to care for Katya, Peter, and Vladimir – that world was gone. I was looking forward to spending a bit more time with them and was hoping that we might see Marguerite begin to become conflicted about which Marguerite she really is. The other modern worlds were so dull. This book tried to do too much. The emotional investment wasn’t there. I didn’t really care about these people. We breezed through every other world so quickly that I couldn’t care less about the people in each other dimension.

    3) Who is Marguerite? Honestly, I am not sure that I know who she is. Sometimes I find that books give characters hobbies (“I’m an artist”)just to avoid having to avoid having to show us who they are. I would have rather read an entire book about Margarita and Pavel.

    • Kim

      I. know. The Theo business was just super creepy. And also he was clearly not a savory character from the get go? Was I not supposed to have that impression? Who knows.

      Yeah it looks like we pretty much have all the same gripes and you’ve put this all very well. This book somehow managed to do too much while simultaneously doing so little. I probably would’ve been happier reading an entire book about Margarita and Russian Paul too. Actually, if the book only traveled to that one dimension and we established connections to all of those characters only to have events play out in the same tragic way I think it would have been a much more effective book.

      And this is a very sharp observation that I wish had occurred to me while I was reading. There really wasn’t much to her other than “dreamy artist with a romantic soul.” I certainly wish there had been more maturity in her tone, especially since a grown ass graduate student has a legitimate crush on her. But whatever!

      • Tabitha (Not Yet Read)

        I’m about halfway thru and at this point so disgruntled that I am torn between throwing in the towel and continuing so I can legitimately rant. After reading your review and some of these comments I am not even excited about finishing to see if I am right in my guesses on what’s going to happen. Seriously such a disappointment.
        Tabitha (Not Yet Read) recently posted…Art it Up! (45) – crochet monster amigurumi

  7. Carina Olsen

    Nooo. I am so sorry you didn’t like this book Kim :( But I love love love your review. <3 I was excited about this book. For a little while. Then I heard about the annoying love triangle. And I do not approve. And the ages of the characters? Ugh. That one "boy" is too old! I don't like it. But yeah. I don't think I will like this book :\ but.. I bought it. So I shall read it. One day. Hopefully :D Thank you for sharing sweetie. <3
    Carina Olsen recently posted…In My Mailbox #158

    • Kim

      Aw well. We can’t like every book we read! (If only!!!) The love triangle isn’t too much a part of the actual story but when it does pop up it’s majorly annoying. And is made even more annoying by the one guy being an actual, legitimate adult. No, that’s just creepy. My philosophy on books I’ve bought but lost interest in reading is to donate them if possible! You’ve already paid for it with money; don’t pay with your time too, you know? At a library or elsewhere it could make its way to someone who would like it instead. Anyway, I just don’t want you to waste your time!

      • Carina Olsen

        Aw, yeah :) That is so so true. Wishing there hadn’t been an annoying triangle in this one :\ sure it would have been perfect without the older guy there at all, hih (A) And ohh. That is a good idea to do :) I might do that. <3 Yeah, I really don't like wasting my time with books :\ Already read 8 one star books this year o.O
        Carina Olsen recently posted…In My Mailbox #158

        • Kim

          Don’t waste your precious (seriously!) time. I have no idea how many one stars I have but I know that I’ve read over 160 books so far this year and about 20ish have made it onto my “2014 favorites” shelf. Eep! I feel like I haven’t truly enjoyed the vast majority of books I’ve read and I’ve been trying to reflect on why that might be and change it.

          • Carina Olsen

            Aw :( Well. I shall at least wait a loooong time before I might try reading this book, lol. It just.. it looks so pretty. HOW MEAN :) And aw. That is not good :( I’m sorry you have read such awful books :\ (I probably would have read tons of awful books too, if I did not peek at the ending of every book first, lol (A) I own so many that I have yet to read because of the endings. Sigh.) Hoping you will soon read a whole bunch of amazing books instead :)
            Carina Olsen recently posted…Review: Soulprint by Megan Miranda

    • Kim

      I mean, you never know. Reading is so personal and sometimes you like something that you never would’ve thought. But if you don’t like love triangles and the romance here is going to bother you then I’d say it’s probably safe to skip this one sadly!

  8. Nikki

    These multiverse novels are difficult for me because most of them just don’t have a compelling enough story outside of the dimension jumping.

    • Kim

      Yeah, that was pretty much the case for me with this one. But a lot of that had to do with being dumped into this story in what felt like the middle of it. The main character is in mourning but we didn’t know the characters she lost so it just feels sort of hollow. Plenty of other people don’t seem to have had this problem, though. I guess it’s pretty relative. But you sound like me so this might be a better one to skip.

  9. Angel @ Spare Reads

    I really do love the parallel universe setup, and a romance story weaved into it sounds like a great idea. I’m not a big fun of the love triangle you mentioned though, especially one of the parties involved is 22+?!!? That really creeps me out…… I think I might still try this one out since I have not read anything similar regarding parallel/alternative universe + traveling books :) Thanks for the review Kim!
    Angel @ Spare Reads recently posted…Review: Sisters Red (Fairytale Retellings, #1)

    • Kim

      To be fair, it’s really not *too* triangle-y. Just a little. But enough to annoy me; especially because it didn’t really seem necessary. It was the sort where the attraction to Other Dude just seemed like a distraction/thing to just cause tension. It didn’t feel like there was any legitimate emotional turmoil happening. There was too much else in this book going on. But still, it’s all so very personal reading is. Give it try. I hope you do end up enjoying it more than I did!

  10. Traci @ The Reading Geek

    Disappointed to read this book is lacking the emotion and to read about how the relationships were just lacking too. I was excited for it, but I’ve been hearing a lot of mixed things. The world does sound interesting, but I am definitely the type of person who needs more than that in a book. Great review!
    Traci @ The Reading Geek recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday #178: Proof of Forever

    • Kim

      If you need that emotional connection, like I do, this might be one that’s better to skip. But these things are often so personal so you never know. I think a lot of it depends on how well you do with being dropped into the story in the middle of things. I didn’t much care for making the emotional connections via flashback. I like to experience them “in the present” you know? *sigh*
      Kim recently posted…A Thousand Pieces of You: Review

    • Kim

      Honestly, all of the “explanations” for how the quantum physics/multiverse stuff worked was just a distraction for me. I’m the sort of reader who doesn’t really need for things to be “scientifically sound” in science fiction for me to enjoy. This might come from me being more of a fantasy reader than sci-fi (though I love both dearly) but my general attitude is “just go with it.” It’s a story about a girl who can hop into different realities. That’s not currently possible so it sort of gets the “fantasy” designation in my head if that makes any sense. Anyway, all of the explanation attempts made little to no sense to me and just detracted from the story!

  11. Pili

    Hmmm… I’m in two minds about this book. I have read some really great reviews for this one and some not so good, as yours… The romance not being all that good irritates me a bit, and I hope I could get to enjoy it anyways, because I love the idea of the multiverses and jumping around them. Even more when one of those parallel worlds in based in a modern version of classic Russia!

    Oh well, it’s in the wish list, but I’m still pretty torn!
    Pili recently posted…Waiting On Wednesday #67!!

    • Kim

      I’m not sure whether you’ll like this one or not, Pili! Since you’re really into the multiverse (and also classical Russia) I think it really hinges on how much you’ll get into the romance. For me, it didn’t work with. The love interest starts out as a suspect of her dad’s murder (!!) but then she forgives him way too easily and the story also tries to fill in their emotional connection through flashback but it all seemed too little too late for me. I suspect this is the sort of thing that is highly personal/subjective though. Only one way to really find out what you’ll think!

    • Kim

      It’s not a terrible book, but it could’ve been better. I expected more. Everything was just resolved too quickly and even the sacrifices that were made were eventually voided. Stories need sacrifice to make the victories mean something. *sigh* I get very frustrated with too convenient plots.

  12. Alreem

    I never wanted to read this book but i have been seeing alot around blogs recently .. i really not sure if it is good or not .. anyway i don’t really care i just want it to see what you thought about it .. great review as usuall :D
    Alreem recently posted…Review: Onyx By Jennifer L. Armentrout

    • Kim

      It really depends on what you like as a reader! If you’re willing to go along with the action and the worlds jumping and don’t necessarily need an emotional investment in your reading experience then I think it’d be a totally fine read. I need the emotional connection, though, and the way that this story drops you in after the tragedy has already occurred left me feeling disconnected from the characters and the story.

    • Kim

      Yeah, I felt like there was a lot of missed potential too. I mean, I suppose it is a fine line between too much going on if, say, we went to more than three parallel worlds. Maybe it’s just that I thought more interesting things would happen in those worlds? I don’t know. This book just didn’t click for me. *sigh sigh* My search for a really great alternate worlds book continues…

  13. Tari

    Too bad it didn’t work for you :( I’m still curious to read it, because the points you mentioned as negative sound like things I could easily go over and enjoy the story nevertheless.
    Anyway, great review! And I hope your current read fits your taste better :)
    Tari recently posted…The Madman’s Daughter #1 by Megan Shepherd

    • Kim

      :) Well, that’s the wonderful thing about informative book reviews! Even if the things I list aren’t my bag they could very well be someone else’s! Whenever I see a bad review for a book complaining about too much romance in the plot it’s actually really helpful for me because that’s basically a Kim siren song. I hope you like this one a lot more than I did!

    • Kim

      Thankfully the age isn’t so bad! I still give it a little bit of side eye but not too much. I hope you end up enjoying it much more than I did! (most people seem to be loving it)

  14. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    I felt exactly the same way as you did about this book, Kim. I was excited to read it because it was scifi, but this was so romance-centric. The worst part is, for me, the romance did not work one bit. I was disturbed by it.

    “Also, THEY HAVE SEX IMMEDIATELY AFTER A VIOLENT ATTACK AGAINST HER FAMILY IN WHICH SHE IS UNSURE OF HER SIBLINGS AND FATHERS SURVIVAL. Marguerite has already shown herself to be attached to these people so it does not mean nothing that they are in peril.”

    THIS! This bothered me so much, Kim. I also was a bit creeped out by how Marguerite was basically using someone else’s body without any consent to sleep with Russian Paul. It was so wrong in many ways. And she barely even knew him. I lost my respect for her then.

    “Yet she throws everything aside to be with Paul whom she has minimal evidence for being innocent”

    I mentioned this same thing in my review. She was so quick to believe Paul without any evidence. It just didn’t make any sense to me.

    I’m sad that you didn’t love this one, but I’m also a little bit happy that I’m not the only one who had issues with this book. Most of blogger friends LOVED the book and I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out why I couldn’t have enjoyed it better. Now I know I’m not alone!

    Lovely honest review, Kim!
    Nick @ Nick’s Book Blog recently posted…Review : On the Edge by Allison van Diepen

    • Kim

      It’s pretty telling that I didn’t care for this one much considering that I normally *love* romance-centric stories.

      And, ugh, yeah. The iffy consent with Russian Paul. So disappointing and weird. I generally do not want to be made discomfited by a protagonist. It was almost worse to me that she actually acknowledges that this was wrong and still goes through with it. And it was all just too little too late anyway (even if there weren’t iffy consent issues and poor judgment going on) since the emotional connection wasn’t established early on. Oh well.

      I’m glad I can help you feel like you’re not alone on this one! I can tell you that Wendy felt the same as me, too. I just hate that feeling when all my friends adore a book and I just don’t. I always sit there like, “What is wrong with me?” So yeah, glad we can commiserate. :)