A Thousand Pieces of You
By Claudia Gray
Harper Teen November 2014
From the library
Marguerite Caine lives a normal life, if your definition of normal includes dinnertime discussion of theoretical physics. She loves her scientist parents, but prefers to spend her days painting. When her father is murdered, all evidence seems to point to a student of her parents. Marguerite teams up with Theo, another physics student, to track Paul down. But it won't be easy - Paul has stolen technology that her parents created and used it to escape to a different dimension. Theo and Marguerite jump from one dimension to another, to places with more technology and some that are much less modern, in a desperate search for answers and justice.
A Thousand Pieces Of You has some threads that are going to seem familiar - a love triangle, a young woman thrust into a situation she feels unprepared for, and time travel. The heart of this story, though, is a family. I've discovered that I like a strong familial connection when reading YA. At that point in your life, you certainly have your friends, but you still live at home and I appreciate seeing parents who are supportive of their children and kids who admire and love their parents (even if they get on their nerves sometimes). As Marguerite travels through time, she is looking for revenge on the man she thinks killed her father and hoping that she can somehow get him back. At the same time, she realizes that every jump takes her farther away from her grieving mother and sister and wishes she could be back home.
One of the coolest parts of this story was the way that Claudia Gray really brings each dimension to life. In each jump, Marguerite inhabits a slightly different version of herself and meets slightly different versions of the people she knows and loves. In a futuristic world, both of her parents have died and she lives with her clueless aunt. But in Imperial Russia, she is a duchess and she meets her father under very surprising circumstances. The characters and sense of time and place are so firmly established with each jump that I would have been just fine spending hundreds of pages in each world.
As with many YA novels these days, A Thousand Pieces Of You will be the first book in a trilogy. But this story is self-contained, which I appreciate. If I pick up the sequel, it will be because I found the characters fascinating and the world building excellent instead of feeling like I had to get the resolution to a cliffhanger. This is the kind of book you can sit down and devour in one glorious gulp. It's not going to change your life, but it is a really fun and entertaining ride.
And hey, look at that beautiful cover. Isn't it lovely to have a cover that has something to do with the story and doesn't feature some strange headless girl?