An outsider who can travel between worlds discovers a secret that threatens her new home and her fragile place in it, in a stunning sci-fi debut that’s both a cross-dimensional adventure and a powerful examination of identity, privilege, and belonging.
Multiverse travel is finally possible, but there’s just one catch: No one can visit a world where their counterpart is still alive. Enter Cara, whose parallel selves happen to be exceptionally good at dying—from disease, turf wars, or vendettas they couldn’t outrun. Cara’s life has been cut short on 372 worlds in total.
On this Earth, however, Cara has survived. Identified as an outlier and therefore a perfect candidate for multiverse travel, Cara is plucked from the dirt of the wastelands. Now she has a nice apartment on the lower levels of the wealthy and walled-off Wiley City. She works—and shamelessly flirts—with her enticing yet aloof handler, Dell, as the two women collect off-world data for the Eldridge Institute. She even occasionally leaves the city to visit her family in the wastes, though she struggles to feel at home in either place. So long as she can keep her head down and avoid trouble, Cara is on a sure path to citizenship and security.
But trouble finds Cara when one of her eight remaining doppelgängers dies under mysterious circumstances, plunging her into a new world with an old secret. What she discovers will connect her past and her future in ways she could have never imagined—and reveal her own role in a plot that endangers not just her world, but the entire multiverse.
I found this book fascinating, the characters relatable and easy to get attached to, the science not hard to digest, and the story arc engaging!
Having said this, I am also a huge sucker for inter-dimensional reads. I love the premise of going to other worlds and finding different versions of yourself. In The Space Between Worlds the different personalities of our main character seem at their core to be made from the same stock, but how they develop is vastly different depending on their circumstances. The characters are also only able to access a SMALL amount of dimensions (a little over 300) so they can only access the ones that are more closely mirroring their own dimension (you just have to be dead in that other universe in order to be able to visit). It is a nature vs. nurture debate, in which both aspects make up the being. There is also some philosophical discussions of “is the inter-dimensional travel possible due to science or religion”? Which prevails? Why not both? It also tackles racial prejudices, social-economical issues as both of these tend to play a hand on which people get to travel–the higher the risk in your life (too poor to afford basic needs, maybe living in a place full of danger, being discriminated against) the better chance you are to be able to travel. I found the discussion fascinating, and a nice way to mirror the problems in our own dimension.
I do feel the novel was divided into two parts basically–it felt like there were two overarching plots which could have easily been divided into two books. Both parts of the story got their time to shine, but maybe dividing it into a duology might have given the reader time to adjust and some characters more page time. As it is it still works great, it just felt weird how by the middle we kind of shifted gears in a sense, like if the novel had a “Part II” that wasn’t stated as such. But that was pretty much my biggest hiccup with the novel and it wasn’t such a big deal.
I really liked the romance aspects, though it definitely is a small part of the story we do get some LGBTQIA+ Rep! And their interactions are so juicy and multilayered. At first I wasn’t sure what to make of the relationship, but there is a reason for everything in The Space Between Worlds, so just give Dell a chance.
Overall I greatly enjoyed this story! It is lite sci-fi so it ends up being a great gateway into adult sci-fi, giving teens and those who wouldn’t normally pick up “sci-fi” books a taste into the genre. I love the idea, and I look forward to reading more of Micaiah Johnson.
I was provided an e-ARC copy of this novel in exchange for an HONEST review, which I totally honestly really liked this book and recommend