The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson – REVIEW

CARA IS DEAD ON THREE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FOUR WORLDS.

The multiverse business is booming, but there’s just one catch: no one can visit a world where their counterpart is still alive.

Enter Cara, whose parallel selves happen to be exceptionally good at dying–from diseases, from turf wars, from vendettas they couldn’t outrun.

But on this earth, Cara’s survived. And she’s reaping the benefits, thanks to the well-heeled Wiley City scientists who ID’d her as an outlier and plucked her from the dirt. Now she’s got a new job collecting offworld data, a path to citizenship, and a near-perfect Wiley City accent. Now she can pretend she’s always lived in the city she grew up staring at from the outside, even if she feels like a fraud on either side of its walls.

But when one of her eight remaining doppelgangers dies under mysterious circumstances, Cara is plunged into a new world with an old secret. What she discovers will connect her past and future in ways she never could have imagined–and reveal her own role in a plot that endangers not just her world, but the entire multiverse.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Hodderscape.
Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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

The Space Between Worlds is an intelligent, thought-provoking and timely dissection of race, class, poverty and identity, questioning how our circumstances shape us. The main character Cara was complex and unforgettable. She’s a survivor who’s unafraid to be pragmatic and put herself first, with an ambiguous moral code. I loved the slow-burn w|w romance between Cara and her watcher, Dell. Their relationship is hindered by a class divide and a misunderstanding from the past but it always kept me fully engaged and rooting for them.

“All of us who were told we were nothing will never stop trying to be everything.”

With a fantastic supporting cast of memorable characters, this book also has great diverse rep. Cara herself is Black and bisexual, and there are non-binary and Black side characters as well. It’s harrowing to discover that traversers (inter-dimensional travellers) are often ethnic minorities due to lower life expectancy meaning they’re more likely to have already died on other earths. There are also instances of harsher punishments for ethnic minorities and Black people being made scapegoats for White crime.

“It is only one world in infinite universes where this impossible happiness exists, but that is what makes it so valuable.”

The plot is gripping, well-paced, and tense, keeping me fully invested from beginning to end. The premise was ambitious but the author successfully pulled it off – it’s hard to believe this is a debut novel. Whilst the narrative is science-lite, this didn’t put me off as the focus remained on exploring social and cultural issues related to race, class, and poverty. I’d highly recommend buying or borrowing a copy of this incredible sci-fi as it’s sure not to disappoint.

(Goodreads | Amazon UK | Book Depository)

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