“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.