Review: The Future is Yours

**5/5 Stars**

I’ll admit that I was going to put this down after the first few pages felt like it was yet another book about tech bros gone bad (or are they just all bad to begin with?!). But then I stuck with it for about 15 pages, and I was into it. And yes, I ended up giving this book a 5/5 stars rating despite my first few pages impression. Never judge a book by the first five pages!

What kept me reading Dan Frey’s The Future is Yours?

There are several things that kept me absolutely hooked to the point I read this in under 48 hours (and I have a busy schedule). For one, the structure of the book is just plain cool. I loved that most of the story is told via an archival, historical approach. The bulk of the book’s contents are texts, emails, newspaper articles, blogs, and a variety of other media. You would think the narrative would be hard to follow because of this piecemeal approach, but it isn’t. It’s actually insanely addicting.

Second, the premise of the book is interesting. I love how the genre of multiverses and time-travel is just exploding in recent years. It makes me feel like maybe we all just want to escape this world with all its problems and very real anxieties. This book is about two guys who meet at Stanford University (my alma mater, and yes, I loved the scenes involving campus and the dish for you insiders). Both characters are very flawed but motivated people. One character has a dream to engineer a machine that sees into the future. The other wants to market this concept and sell it to everyone to level the playing field when it comes to money and equality (or so he says).

If you love the story of Theranos (I loved the documentaries about the company and the book Bad Blood!), this book might be of great interest to you despite the fact it is fiction. Technology and innovation is moving at the speed of light in today’s world, but this book and the many sad stories of Silicon Valley’s start-up failures are really about the ethical and moral failures that arise due to technology. Just because you can invent a new technology doesn’t mean society is ready for it or even needs it at all. We need people in the humanities and social sciences thinking deeply about how new technologies will be used and implemented before they are rolled out. If this is a topic that interests you, I highly recommend reading Jaron Lanier’s books on social media and AI.

Thank you to the author, Dan Frey, the publisher, Random House, and NetGalley for the advance reviewer copy of The Future is Yours!

Review: The Chalet

**4/5 Stars**

As the leaves change (well, at least it does here in the Midwestern United States) and the weather gets colder, there’s nothing better than reading a mystery novel with a cup of hot cocoa by your side. Catherine Cooper’s debut novel The Chalet is the perfect fall read. Set in a posh ski resort in the French alps, this book will make you feel ready for winter even if you hate snow.

The book flips back and forth between two timelines. The first timeline is set in 1998, where college friends go on a skiing trip in the middle of a blizzard (yes, always a bad idea). This trip ends in disaster (shocking!), with one college student going missing up on the mountain, never to be found again.

Was foul play involved, or just really bad luck on the part of not so experienced skiers and irresponsible, selfish ski guides?

The second timeline is set 20 years after this fateful ski trip. The second timeline involves several couples stuck in a ski resort amid another bad winter storm. The contemporary timeline involves people who are somehow connected to the 1998 incident.

How they are connected is a mystery that readers must untangle.

Most of the characters in this book are not the most likable. There are unethical businessmen, cheating partners, and deceitful friends. This means everyone is a suspected of something, although what that something is does not become clear until the latter half of the novel.

This book was a strong first novel for Cooper. The setting really sold the book for me, perhaps because I am tired of being stuck at home amid COVID! A blizzard in the French alps somehow sounds appealing after 7 months of being at home. I will definitely read another book from Cooper if it is a mystery!

Thank you to the author, Catherine Cooper, the publisher, HarperCollins, and NetGalley for the advanced reader copy of The Chalet.

Review: The Space Between Worlds

**5/5 Stars**

“The universe erases me, but it also remakes me again and again, so there must be something worthwhile in this image.”

“They say hunting monsters will turn you into one.”

“Alive doesn’t mean anything at all. Sometimes the path to an easy life makes you miserable.”

This year I’ve been trying to read a lot of escapist fiction. Between a cancer scare and the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve really needed to check out in the late nights and early mornings when I read. I’ve behind on a lot of my reading this year, too, but I think that’s to be expected in times like these! Nevertheless, I was so happy to pick up and read The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson. It was exactly the kind of read I needed this year.

The book is a haunting sci-fi thriller that has characters who are impossible to forget. The lead character is Cara, a rough and tumble woman who is clever, resourceful, and, above all, fearless. I don’t want to give away the brilliant plot, so I will be a bit cagey with my review. Cara claws her way out of the literal wastelands to become a traverser, someone who travels in time from one world to another. The book is set in the future where a megalomaniac engineer, Adam Bosch, has discovered that there are parallel worlds: 372 to be exact. Cara is one of the few traversers hired by Bosch’s company to extract information and data out of the other worlds for the benefit of her world.

But as readers will learn, Cara’s work comes at a cost.

Cara is scrappy and curious, determined to benefit and learn from her travels in other timelines despite corporate rules prohibiting such behavior. In all the worlds she has visited, her life is difficult. These worlds all have one thing in common: inequality. Cara is a member of the lower classes abandoned and discriminated against simply for being born outside the walls of the wealthy Wiley City, a city which also serves as a corporate haven for Bosch. Wiley City is for the elite, and the surrounding desert is for the rest of the world who toil under a constant threat of sexual and physical violence.

Cara desires to find a better way of life for herself and her family members who remain entangled in poverty and strife, but numerous obstacles stand in her way. Time is running out for Cara to figure out how to secure a safer future for her family; traversers are being replaced by a new technology that will remotely retrieve data from the other universes. Adam Bosch’s company also plans to monetize traversing, offering the opportunity to the wealthy few who seek to expand their fortune and fame by visiting other universes.

The odds are stacked against Cara, but she isn’t someone who cares about odds. Will she die trying to beat them?

This book is exciting, heartbreaking, and impossible to put down. If you love sci-fi, thrillers, brilliantly imagined worlds, and characters you won’t ever forget, this is absolutely your book. Definitely going to be a book I need to add to my permanent library!

Thank you to Random House Publishing, the author, Micaiah Johnson, and NetGalley for an advanced reader copy of The Space Between Worlds.