Tandem by Anna Jarzab
Hardcover, 428 pages
Published October 8th 2013 by Delacorte Books
You. Your best friend. Every person you know.
Many worlds. Many lives--infinite possibilities.
Welcome to the multiverse.
Sixteen-year-old Sasha Lawson has only ever known one small, ordinary life. When she was young, she loved her grandfather's stories of parallel worlds inhabited by girls who looked like her but led totally different lives. Sasha never believed such worlds were real--until now, when she finds herself thrust into one against her will.
To prevent imminent war, Sasha must slip into the life of an alternate version of herself, a princess who has vanished on the eve of her arranged marriage. If Sasha succeeds in fooling everyone, she will be returned home; if she fails, she'll be trapped in another girl's life forever. As time runs out, Sasha finds herself torn between two worlds, two lives, and two young men vying for her love--one who knows her secret, and one who thinks she's someone she's not.
The first book in the Many-Worlds Trilogy, Tandem is a riveting saga of love and betrayal set in parallel universes in which nothing--and no one--is what it seems.
Anna Jarzab is the author of All Unquiet Things, The Opposite of Hallelujah, and the upcoming Tandem, the first book in the Many-Worlds Trilogy. She lives in New York City and works in children's book publishing. Visit her online at www.annajarzab.com, connect with her on Twitter @ajarzab and on Facebook atfacebook.com/annajarzabbooks.
What I loved:
"She had no idea how significant she was, what her presence here meant. She'd gone sixteen years - almost seventeen - thinking she was just a regular girl. It was remarkable how important people could be without even knowing." - Pg 98This theme of the mundane human being of great importance in another universe is magnificent. It's so easy to feel that message is meant for me, for anyone, everyone.
I love the vibrant characters.
Sasha is very believable - I didn't always agree with her and some of her choices smacked of youth (which led to a few *face palm* moments) but she's three dimensional & alive. She's very different from Julianna.
Julianna is awesome... for a spoiled brat. Also smart, she makes decisions faster than Sasha and is more in touch with what she wants, which is refreshing except her character is so... over-ripe. She's had it too good for too long to appreciate what she has or rise to the challenge of battling the powers that be with power.
Power... "the General" is sooooo delightfully horrid. He's so cold-hearted. As a villain, he ranks at the top of the bad ones. He's too smart and has been planning too, too long for anyone to get anything past him. Worse, it's like he's anticipated such moves and already set counteractions in place to destroy any resistance while leaving his own hands clean. First clue is when his own sons call him "the General".
Thomas is a winner, too. He's such a perfect soldier, but "he has too much heart" as sweet daddy says. The action moments are all improved by his presence. The budding romance is only possible because of his level of amazing. I hope Thomas shows up a LOT in the next couple books.
The brother, though? Lucas or whoever he is? He's a snake and I enjoyed hating him almost as much as the general. He can get stuck in "the hole" indefinitely and I wouldn't cry.
What's up with mothers? In this story... moms are pretty much "cruel" and/or "conniving". Any gentle sweetness feels like a cover-up and seriously... some of 'em really lay on the snark really thick.
As for Callum... I had higher hopes for him. I hope he gets some air time and finds where he left his cahones. He has moments of promise, but they're fleeting and mostly he begs to be pitied.
I pretty much loved all the characters. Lots of vibrant personalities!!
I also liked the main idea of the story and the tandem "veil" between universes. I like the cover and the way the printing includes some of the physics stuff. Cool.
I did not like:
The repetitivity. I quit counting the amount of times that I learned something monumental and then listened as a character reviewed it in their head while deciding not to share with anyone, yet. and then again when the info was shared. This 3x delivery of stuff happens a few times.
I also did not get into the info dumps. There was a physics one in particular... when Sasha meets the nutty professor (also an amazing character!) and he goes off on a tangent of how realities can exist and interact with each other with various strengths depending on proximity (that's a very quick summary from the concept from various other portions of the story. Yeah, I got it.) I skimmed the entire chapter and got to the part where Sasha gets back to the question of "Why me?" and the grand answer is "I have no idea." I had to laugh. I'm not sorry I skipped that section. I don't feel like I missed any of the story even if I did miss the repeat physics lesson.
The danger is unknown and the days are filled with a feeling of mundane boredom. Sasha survives some things that would've freaked me out, but she buzzes through and on to the next thing... like eggs for breakfast, being dangled from the heights and interviewing on live TV. The danger didn't feel dangerous to me.
The romance is mostly absent, too. Not just "young adult" or "fantasy with some romance". The romance is skipped over (like the physics is not) and then summarized later like I wouldn't be interested in hours bonding late night talk/kiss. *sigh* So much potential!!
Last fuss: There's a dash of "Wha-?!" in the mix as the parallel universes mix and part and clash. The eeriness of Chicago of one world not being like the Tattered City of the other is exhilarating. I like the palm-reading locks, too. Fun deviations. The moments that shook me out of the story were odd phrases. For example, Thomas would say something that sounded like a cliche phrase from Earth. It was confusing to accept the similarities after swallowing the differences, I guess.
That pretty much summarizes my thoughts and feelings. I recommend the story. Just be ready to take some stuff as it's delivered while getting some thorough explanations of other stuff.
My rating: 5 Stars for the awesome characters. They totally rock!! 5 stars for the world-building. Brilliant. 3.5 stars for the romance (the characters add a lot.) 2 stars for the repetitive info delivery & 2.5 for the pace/tension. Total: 3.75 Stars total.