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by Anna Jarzab
Book One in the Many-Worlds Trilogy
This past week, Sasha’s life has been pretty awesome. Grant, a really cute guy from her high school started up a conversation with her in the bookstore, and asked her to prom. They had an amazing time at the dance – like a dream. After, as they sit together on the beach, Grant slips a silver bracelet onto her arm. Sasha is utterly charmed – until the world disappears into darkness and her body fills with a dull ache and overwhelming nausea. When Sasha recovers enough, Grant drops a bombshell: he is from a parallel world. The boy talking to her now is named Thomas, and Grant was his analog – his double in Sasha’s world. Analogs are physically indistinguishable from each other, although their personalities and parentage vary wildly. THomas was sent to replace Grant and get close to Sasha so that she could be brought to his world via the tandem – interdimensional wormholes, I guess you could say – and replace her analog. Sasha is furious that she was kidnapped and refuses to cooperate, but after her escape attempt fails she realizes that she has little choice but to follow Thomas’ plan. For while in her own world, Sasha’s just a normal sixteen-year-old, in this world her analog is Princess Juliana, a celebrity whose face is known to all. The princess has disappeared, kidnapped only a few days before an arranged marriage was to take place and usher in peace between two warring countries. If Sasha can just make it through the wedding, buying time for Thomas to locate the real Juliana, she will be allowed to return home to her own world.
My husband, noticing that I was reading with an unusually fierce look of concentration on my face, asked me what this book was about.
I told him, “Oh, parallel worlds.”
“Neat!” he replied, “How does it work?”
I spent the next several minutes struggling to explain the mechanics of Tandem. The easy answer, of course, would have been “Quantum physics!” but there’s more to it. Jarzab does a pretty good job of explaining how the tandem works and why analogs can appear in multiple worlds, but I have the sneaking suspicion that if I were a scientist, or at least one with a passing familiarity with advanced physics, I’d spot a few holes. However, I’m not, and “Physics!” is akin to “Magic!” in that I will accept it as an explanation for events because I don’t know any better. Serious science fiction readers, your mileage may vary.
On the surface, this seems like perfect wish fulfillment. Girl falls in love, girl is taken to a new world where she is a princess instead of merely average! What fun! But it’s really not. The kingdom in which Sasha finds herself has long been at war with its neighbor and instability has increased ever since the king, Juliana’s father, was shot and left in a coma. Juliana and the queen, her stepmother, fight constantly, and then there’s that whole marriage to a guy she’s never met thing. The fact that Sasha is thrown into this volatile environment against her will makes her instantly relatable and helps ease the reader into the strangeness of the parallel world she calls Aurora.
This is primarily a young adult book, part of the wave of dystopian novels that kicked off a few years back with The Hunger Games and continues to be quite popular. It does follow several tropes of the genre, including the ever-present love triangle. Some readers live for this; some of us are sick of it, but at least in this book I think there are some valid reasons for it. For example, if Sasha falls in love with Thomas, but she’s going to marry (as Juliana) the prince of a neighboring country, it would be natural if feelings develop with her future husband. Or – and, in Tandem this hasn’t actually happened but I suspect that this is the direction the trilogy is heading – if Sasha is reunited with Grant, the analog of the guy she loves (and therefore his physical double) why wouldn’t she be attracted to him? I still think love triangles are ridiculously overdone, but within the context of the story it actually works.
4 out of 5 stars
To read more about Tandem, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.
Peeking into the archives...today in:
2013: News: Texas Creates Bookless Public Library
2012: The Curse of the Pharaoh (Amelia Peabody #2) by Elizabeth Peters
2011: Closing down for end of year Festivus…
2010: News: Seriously Cool Pop-Up Book
2009: News: Bay Area Indies Beat the Odds