Rating: 5 stars
In “Ten Thousand Skies Above You,” Claudia Gray has accomplished something that is very difficult for many authors to do. She created a sequel (to “A Thousand Pieces of You: A Firebird Novel“) that is every bit as exciting and gripping as the first book in the series. This series is actually a series of accomplishments.
The plot is pure science fiction — it’s about a universe where the technology has been created to travel to alternate universes. The protagonist, Marguerite, is an artist whose parents created the technology. Two of her parents’ graduate students (they are professors) have become very close to her — Theo and Paul. In the first story, Marguerite’s father dies and Paul is thought to be the culprit. No spoilers here, but Theo and Marguerite travel to alternate universes to find Paul and bring him to justice.
The stories are both beautifully put together. The three main characters, Marguerite, Paul and Theo are complex and described in enough detail for the reader to feel like they are real (Marguerite and Paul perhaps more than Theo). But perhaps Gray’s most impressive accomplishment is that in spite of the many alternate universes that they travel to — and there are many — she keeps the plot and the action simple enough that it’s easy to keep track of where they went and what happened.
Often in science fiction and other novels, the plot becomes so complex and with so many characters that it’s difficult for the reader to really keep track of what is going on and who everyone is. There are times when a reader (me) will simply choose not to read the third novel because of the effort involved in trying to keep track of everything.
While rereading (or skimming) the first novel is still recommended before reading this novel, there are enough reminders that it’s not totally necessary. And while it could, possibly, stand on its own and be read without reading “A Thousand Pieces of You,” why miss out on the enjoyment you’d get from reading the first part of the story?
For all of those of us who have thought, “I wonder if in another universe this happened and changed my life,” the possibilities are all there in this book. Each version of Paul, Theo and Marguerite are different — some much more so than others. And while the Paul from Marguerite’s original universe (not ours) believes in destiny, or fate, she begins to wonder.
There are moral issues involved, too. How ethical is it to take over your alternate body in another universe? Especially when, as Marguerite finds out, there could be serious consequences. But the stories are also about espionage and warfare between universes. In one particular universe, Marguerite finds out how serious the stakes are — not only her life but the lives of those who exist in whole universes that could be destroyed.
This book ends with a huge cliffhanger — thank you very much, Claudia Gray! Just as readers were anxious to read this second in the series, they will be even more anxious to read the next book to see how this cliffhanger resolves. Does Marguerite manage to save the universes with the help of Paul and Theo? What happens to the “evil” version of Marguerite’s parents? How does Marguerite choose between Paul and Theo? All these questions and more will — we hope — be answered in the next book.
Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, HarperTeen, for review purposes.