Born in the dirt of the wasteland, Cara has fought her entire life just to survive. Now she has done the impossible, and landed herself a comfortable life on the lower levels of the wealthy and walled-off Wiley City. So long as she can keep her head down and avoid trouble, she’s on a sure path to citizenship and security – on this world, at least.
Of the 380 realities that have been unlocked, Cara is dead in all but 8.
Cara’s parallel selves are exceptionally good at dying – from disease, turf wars, or vendettas they couldn’t outrun – which makes Cara wary, and valuable. Because while multiverse travel is possible, no one can visit a world in which their counterpart is still alive. And no one has fewer counterparts than Cara.
But then one of her eight doppelgängers dies under mysterious circumstances, and Cara is plunged into a new world with an old secret. What she discovers will connect her past and future in ways she never could have imagined – and reveal her own role in a plot that endangers not just her earth, but the entire multiverse.
I have a small confession to make.
I’m not a huge fan of sci-fi books.
Guys…they’ve just never really been for me. I’ve honestly struggled to find one that I’ve actually adored. As a huge Marvel fan, I think I just have HUGE expectations which makes it ten times difficult. In the last two years, the only other sci-fi book I read was ‘Chasing the Stars’ by Malorie Blackman…I won’t go into too much detail because I usually love Ms Blackman’s books…
I saw Micaiah Johnson’s ‘The Space Between Worlds’ was 99p so, I decided to try something new. Because…why not? I love getting out of my comfort zone when it comes to books. It’s usually when I discover some incredible stories.
I just didn’t expect to really like this book. I actually didn’t want to stop reading.
But if you loved the Multi-Verse aspect of ‘Spiderman: Into the Spider Verse’ (I loved Miles Morales as spiderman) or Dr Strange. Or even the latest Marvel tv-show Wandavision on Disney Plus, you may really enjoy this one. It just felt very fitting to finish this book around the same time I watched the last episode of Wandavision.
Filled with themes of classism, revenge, pain, drug abuse and so much more, Johnson has written a beautiful novel. Through the main protagonist Cara, we feel love, regret, grief and the determination to create a better future for yourself.
“It is only one world in infinite universes where this impossible happiness exists, but that is what makes it so valuable.”
I think what I loved the most was the references to capitalism and the elitist privileges it creates. We see the parallels between Ashtown and Wiley City. But gosh, I was not expecting the author to really create a world that is so easily feasible. Through this classist society, we saw how classism intersects with race. I have to applaud Johnson because it really cannot be easy to create a whole new world and layer it with class and race. She even drew on the effects capitalism has on the poor and what that means for wider society.
“Because all of us who were told we were nothing will never stop trying to be everything.”
The worldbuilding is excellent. As book exploring inter-dimensional travel and space, it must be incredibly hard to write a science-fiction novel this well. Micaiah Johnson clearly mastered how to build each and every world. The pacing was a tad slow at times but I enjoyed the character developments. I love books where I can’t guess plot twists and there wasn’t a single plot twist that I figured out beforehand. I was left guessing throughout the entire plot.
As Cara begins to question her identity and her purpose on Earth Zero, I begin to sympathise with her. We often have certain aspects about ourselves that are integral into describing who we are. It’s a combination of our experiences, relationships and the environment we live in. We learn about it in Biology about the Nature vs Nurture debate and Cara reminded me of all the arguments surrounding it. If you’re environment changes but your biology stays the same – you will come out different. Your personality, how you act, behave, think – it will differ. That’s what we saw with all the characters depending on which ‘Earth’, Cara was on.
“Human beings are unknowable. You can never know a single person fully, not even yourself. Even if you think you know yourself in your safe glass castle, you don’t know yourself in the dirt.”
Cara’s relationships with many characters were beautifully written. Cara’s relationship with her sister was the epitome of unconditional love. She clearly adored her despite their complicated relationship – I don’t want to spoil the plot so I won’t go into too much detail. I also liked her relationship with her mentor, Jean. It made some of the later plot that much more difficult to read. The sapphic representation was beautifully done and I adored seeing the relationship unfold between Cara and Dell. Their relationship didn’t take anything away from the main aspect of the plot – something that tends to happen alot with fantasy or sci-fi.
“Because that’s what a sister is: a piece of yourself you can finally love, because it’s in someone else.”
My biggest problem was the ending. It felt so anti-climatic and open-ended. I truly thought there was going to be a huge reckoning for some of the characters but I was left disappointed. I’m not sure why Johnson decided to leave the ending the way she did. It felt like she left it that way in case she wanted to revisit the world someday. Whilst, I think it’s excellent for a standalone, I don’t think I would mind if she creates another story.
A very beautiful debut by Micaiah Johnson and the first science-fiction book I’ve really liked it. I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for anything else Johnson writes.