A Thousand Pieces of You: A Review

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia GrayMarguerite’s parents were on the brink of a huge breakthrough with their research into traveling between parallel universes when her father is murdered and their graduate assistant Paul disappears without a trace.

When Paul disappeared he took the Firebird, the device that makes parallel universe travel possible, with him. Marguerite is left reeling from the sudden loss of her father as well as the betrayal of a boy she thought she could care about.

Determined to get revenge, Marguerite embarks on a multi-universal hunt for Paul with the help of her parents’ other assistant, Theo. As Marguerite gets closer to finding Paul she begins to realize that their lives entangle again and again in each universe.

The closer Marguerite gets to Paul, the more she begins to wonder if he really is the villain she thought in A Thousand Pieces of You (2014) by Claudia Gray.

Find it on Bookshop.

A Thousand Pieces of You is the first book in Gray’s Firebird trilogy.

Gray creates an extremely interesting premise here as she introduces readers to the concept of a multi-verse while exploring ideas of fate and destiny.

If that sounds lofty, don’t worry, the mechanics of universe travel are quickly glossed over when Marguerite explains that she is not interested in physics or science and tends to tune out when her parents get too technical. Marguerite is an artist.

While Marguerite’s interest in art is a key part of the story, it is deeply frustrating to see art and science set up as mutually exclusive. Furthermore, although again it is addressed somewhat in the story, it is deeply problematic to have Marguerite note repeatedly that she is not as smart as other characters in the book.

That isn’t Marguerite’s only problem. She is also headstrong as she makes rash assumptions about Paul, Theo and almost every other character she meets in the story. She spends a lot of the book telling readers how capable she is and how strong she is; she reminds readers that she is ready and able to do her duty and avenge her father’s death. But she’s also happy to have Theo with her because how could she possibly accomplish anything without a smart boy to help her?

In addition to an under-developed world, Gray gives readers a love triangle that is often painful as Marguerite’s final choice is glaringly obvious in addition to neither male lead being sufficiently well-developed to inspire any strong feelings let alone romantic ones.

The basic premise of parallel universe travel in this story is fundamentally flawed (travelers hop into or “borrow” their parallel bodies) while also serving as a central plot point in both the main story and the romance sub-plot. Weak world-building, a disappointing heroine who makes terrible decisions and a denouement that is laughably simple and incomplete further serve to diminish this book as a whole.

Readers looking for solid science fiction will be better served by other time travel/parallel universe titles. Readers who go into A Thousand Pieces of You expecting a sci-fi lite romance are likely to be much happier with this novel.

Possible Pairings: The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey, Planesrunner by Ian McDonald, Hourglass by Myra McEntire, Parallel by Lauren Miller, Fair Coin by E. C. Myers, Now That You’re Here by Amy K. Nichols, The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski, Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone, All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill, Pivot Point by Kasie West

8 thoughts on “A Thousand Pieces of You: A Review

  1. “While Marguerite’s interest in art is a key part of the story, it is deeply frustrating to see art and science set up as mutually exclusive. ”

    I always find this frustrating in stories, as well. It’s a very narrow way of delving into how minds work. Sometimes I think it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because our society is so hung up on the idea that your brain either thinks in an artistic manner, or thinks in a more logical manner. Perhaps it stems from the idea that logic is emotionless, so logical people are emotionless. Art is emotion.

    I’ve gone off on a tangent. Obviously, though, this is a point that irks me, so I’m not so sure I would be able to enjoy this book, but who knows.

    1. This one wasn’t a favorite–something made worse by the fact that I fully expected to love it. In terms of art and science I’d suggest checking out Now That You’re Here by Amy K. Nichols. It deals with the two ideas in a more nuanced way and also shows that they often go hand in hand (one character makes beautiful tesselations).

  2. YESSS I love this review! Especially your first two paragraphs – like hello have you not SEEN those bioluminescent algae forests? That’s pretty artistic of science, I think.

    Anyway. I’m pretty sure that I won’t be buying the next book. Maybe request it if it shows up on EW though!

  3. This is precisely why I have had this book on my shelf since it’s release date. I’m afraid of it. Time/universe/dimension travel is tricky so I always find it a bit over done although this concept seems new. I loathe rash decision makers and under-confident characters in general. Strike 2 right there. While I loved your review I think this one will sit a bit more. I am however very much looking forward to Sorceress by Gray.

    1. I went into this one expecting to love it which definitely made it even more disappointing. You might have a better experience since your expectations are lower.

  4. Oh darn. I do like science fiction, and I had been hoping that the beautiful cover art hid a lovely story. Now… I know. I should really just trawl your blog before I even get my hopes up about these books – you know exactly what to say to spark my interest or let me know that I’d hate the story. Ah well!

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