A Thousand Pieces of You

I know Claudia Gray through her fanfiction, which is quite frankly amazing; she’s one of the top three fanfic writers I’ve ever read, and at this point, I have read a LOT of fanfic. I was delighted to discover she’s also a published novelist, as she well deserves to be! She was kind enough to send an advance copy of her latest YA novel, A Thousand Pieces of You, for me to review, which I took for-freaking-ever to get around to and owe her the most abject apologies for. (SO SORRY, CLAUDIA!)

So the bad news is, I’m a jerk. The good news is, the book is excellent! Marguerite Caine’s father was murdered for his research on multiverse travel; now she and one of her father’s students must use cobbled-together prototypes to chase down the killer as he hops through different versions of reality. It quickly becomes clear that the situation is not as cut-and-dried as Marguerite thought.

Claudia Gray’s version of multiverse travel is very interesting, and I think watching Marguerite discover the many ways her life could have been different – is different – in different branches of reality is the best part of the story. The characters, in all their varied versions, are real and well-developed. The story brings up the ethical dilemmas of taking over someone else’s life, and to what extent “another you” is still you; it’s thought-provoking stuff! As for the romance – well, of course there’s a romance. But it doesn’t feel obligatory or contrived in the slightest. In fact it’s delicately developed and deeply touching. (It’s also pretty explicit in places, just so you know.) The plot doesn’t end on a cliffhanger but neither is everything tied up, by any means – I greatly look forward to reading the next one!

Book Review: Temeraire

I love dragons. I grew up on Anne McCaffrey’s Dragons of Pern books, and I just never get tired of seeing different takes on the subject of everyone’s favorite giant scaly monsters. Good or bad, large or small, BRING ON THE DRAGONS.

Naomi Novik’s contribution to dragon lore has brought me one of my very favorite dragons ever — Temeraire.

The adventures of Temeraire and his captain (i.e. dragonrider), William Laurence, begin in His Majesty’s Dragon, in which poor Captain Laurence has his naval career hijacked by the hatching of a valuable dragon who will accept only him as handler. In this alternate Regency era, dragons serve as air support for the Napoleonic war. Let me just say that over again. REGENCY DRAGON AIR FORCE. If that does nothing for you, I can only say you have my pity.

Laurence is likable and engaging — more so, in my opinion, as the series goes on — but the real star is the dragon himself, and the deep and beautiful bond between them. Temeraire has a brilliant mind and a child-like ability to point out all the ways humans and their world make no sense; he’s sweet and brilliant and brave, simultaneously prim and blunt as a hammer. The books themselves carry that lovely Regency tone, but lightly enough not to lose modern readers. Between gentle humor, interesting worldbuilding, and heart-pounding battles, these books ought to please almost anyone. Well, okay… anyone who loves dragons and/or the Regency.