Tandem: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Tandem by Anna JarzabSasha is beyond thrilled when cute, popular Grant Davis asks her to prom. After years of pining for Grant, it seems like Sasha’s dreams are finally coming true.

Then prom is over and things start to go horribly wrong.

Grant isn’t Grant and, after receiving a strange gift, Sasha isn’t in her Chicago. Suddenly all of the theoretical things Sasha has learned from her grandfather about alternate universes are painfully real.

Thrust into a life that isn’t her own, Sasha has to play the part of a princess in a world that shouldn’t exist if she ever wants a chance to return home in Tandem (2013) by Anna Jarzab.

Tandem is the first book in Jarzab’s Many Worlds trilogy.

While the framework is original, the story is nothing so much as a riff on The Prisoner of Zenda–amovie that’s been made several times where a man is recruited (unwillingly) to pretend to be the king of Ruritania when the real king is kidnapped. Chaos ensues.

Although the premise is clever and appears in lots of other books and movies, I couldn’t shake the similarity between the two.

Alternate universe stories are always interesting in terms of setting and this one is no exception with an alternate Chicago that is markedly different even with eerie similarities. Jarzab does a great job supporting the science of her story and making the Tandem and analogs and other elements convincing and plausible.

The problem is that the book is too long. At 448 pages (hardcover) the book takes a good hundred pages to get to Aurora (the alternate world) and even then the actual story, the one described in the plot summary, still doesn’t start right away. Readers looking for an alternate universe/parallel universe story will likely find the initial groundwork fascinating, others may find it tedious.

Although Jarzab’s writing was enjoyable and Sasha was an appealing heroine, the story took too long to get off the ground with too much build up to ever truly be engaging.

Possible Pairings: The Selection by Kiera Cass, The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine, Proxy by Alex London, Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young, Planesrunner by Ian McDonald, Parallel by Lauren Miller, Fair Coin by E. C. Myers, A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix, The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski, Pivot Point by Kasie West