A Thousand Pieces of You
Written by Claudia Gray
Published by Harper Teen
November 4, 2014
Hardback, 357 pages
I’ll start off with this, which isn’t new for me. I’m glad that this was the first book of a trilogy. With out the basics of the story and how the pieces move, I think jumping into the middle of it may have been confusing.
With that said, I’ll leave the suspense to the story.
A Thousand Pieces of You follows Marguerite Caine through different dimensions as she hunts down her father’s killer. Her parents are brilliant physicists who have invented the Firebird, a device that can transport a person into another dimension. The man blamed for her father’s death is a handsome yet awkward grad assistant named Paul, whom the family took in as one of their own. It appears to be the perfect murder and get away; however, the murder didn’t take into consideration Marguerite’s stubbornness to find and, if she’s able to, kill her father’s killer, regardless of what dimension she has to visit. Plus she’s not alone. Helping her is her parents’ other grad assistant, Theo, who is almost equally as determined to kill Paul but also keep Marguerite safe. Her journey takes them to different worlds with different technology and in different periods of that dimension’s history. But one little twist of fate throws Marguerite’s anger and other emotions about Paul into question. Was her reality, or dimension, right or was it terribly wrong?
Ok, first I’ll admit I originally picked up this book because it was by Claudia Gray, whom I know for her work on Star Wars books. Now, I haven’t read any of her Star Wars books or any of the other new Star Wars, just the ones released in my high school days. So I was curious to see what type of writer she was without given a plan from a large company who seems to have an agenda other than an organically good story.
I am happy.
Luckily, the concept of A Thousand Pieces intrigued me. Dimension jumping versus the usual time jumping; same group of characters in a different world. Don’t get me wrong, the places she jumps to in the dimensions can have a time or period shift, too, but I didn’t expect that based on how the jumping was explained. So when our leading lady suddenly finds herself tripping down stairs at a formal ball in turn-of-the-century Russia, I think I was as shocked as she was….well not quite, but you get my drift. Gray’s ability to write this part, and with some decent research for it, is enchanting. Honestly, she could have done more in this part of the book and I would have been delighted. The detail she puts into certain aspects of Marguerite’s experience as the grand Duchess: her lifestyle, the clothing, the Fabergé Eggs….she really creates a picture that draws you in.
Speaking of which, kudos on this: even though there’s a lot of fantastical science theory in the story, the fact is Marguerite’s the odd one in the physicist family (her mom, dad, older sister); she is the artist. So she sees things through an artist’s mind, which helps “dumb” down the science aspect for us non scientist readers. I also like how she will admit that she needs the layman terms even if she has an understanding of the science. It’s like Gray gets that some of details need to be simplified or she’ll lose her reader. Plus, as a fellow artist and student, I found some of Marguerite’s references are quite fun.
I did mention suspense. I had a feeling it would be a “ok, who really done it?” story and played out different scenarios in my mind. Just like the locations of the next dimension were surprising, the explanation for the plot was too. I liked the twist, the simplicity yet complexity of it. I know that’s odd but bear with me. The who is kind of a given once you get into it. The why you learn as you learn more about the Firebird and how dimensions work. However, throw on top of that a characteristic of mankind that seems to be used quite often (and often against us) and the explanation behind that why is almost a “oh duh” moment. However, the execution of how that person and using the dimensions to accomplish a goal makes you look back through the rest of the book for those “did I miss something” moments.
You had one job, Gray. And you nailed it.
Suspense, world building, a clever story with characters that are not over the top. And an ending that wants more. Which apparently Gray does give because A Thousand Pieces of You is the first in a trilogy. I thought I felt the story wasn’t finished and had missed something (yes, I reread the last couple pages again to make sure).
This means I need to hunt down the next book because I do want to know what happens. I admit, I was more taken with this than I had expected. I would like to read another of her books. Her own made up world with her own characters appear to work well in this book, and possibly whole series, so maybe I should try a Star Wars book of hers. I know the criticism with the newer High Republic work, so perhaps I should start with an older one of hers to see if her story telling is as good when she’s confined into an already established galaxy.
But until then, I think I’ll join Marguerite’s search for her father’s killer with book two.