Monday, November 23, 2020

Review: THE SPACE BETWEEN WORLDS by Micaiah Johnson


Rating: 2.5/5 stars

I’ve been really excited to read this book since I first heard about it, plus I’ve been wanting to read more science fiction lately. Multiverse space travel where you can’t travel to a world where you’re still alive, plus that gorgeous cover? Sold.

At the beginning of the novel, I was really enjoying it. I liked the descriptions of the technology and the way she explains the different worlds—382 of them to be exact—that the traversers travel to. I liked our protagonist Cara and her backstory, and I liked the differences between Wiley City and Ashtown.

When part two began, however, I started to get confused. Confused about the relationship between Nik Nik and Cara (you’ll see when you read it), and confused about some of the technicalities of traversing. I felt like events were happening that shouldn’t have been allowed to happen within the boundaries of the world that were explained to me earlier, and I felt like Cara was saying stuff that should have gotten her in trouble but didn’t. I was confused why the direction of the story turned away from where it was going and where I thought it was going to focus on the relationship between Cara and Nik Nik that still confuses me now that the book is over.

I kept wanting more than what I got. Even twenty extra pages of description interspersed throughout the narrative would have been beneficial to this story. The book wasn’t long enough for me to feel attached to any of the characters besides Cara, and even she feels rather forgettable. There was a lot of backstory about her on the different worlds and her family and Dell and Nik Nik and his family backstory, but we really didn’t see more than a few sentences about any of that; we needed way more but didn’t get it. I’m still really confused about who’s related to who on which worlds.

I really feel like the story lost its direction. It had a strong start but eventually, it started going downhill and didn’t recover. New in-world terminology kept being brought up that was so infrequently used that I forgot what it meant but was never explained again, and there’s also a ton of other stuff that wasn’t explained well enough the first time that I still don’t know what it means. I felt very disconnected from the whole story, more and more the longer I read it.

This could have been a really neat book, but ultimately it just needed more work. This doesn’t feel like it’s ready for publication yet as I had a ton of issues throughout the entire narrative that could have been fixed with a little editing here or a little more added description there, etc. I’m disappointed with how it all turned out because I expected to love this book. I also think I wanted it to be more science-fictiony than it was and less focused on character relationships. And that ending was . . . lackluster? Yeah, unfortunately I was just glad to be done with it.

The Space Between Worlds has a cool concept, but it suffers from poor execution in my opinion. I feel like the synopsis partially lied so I expected something different than what I actually got, but I also feel like the story was just too underdeveloped. I constantly wanted more—more from the world-building, more from the character development, and more plot structure. There was a large portion in the middle where I felt like too many detours were taken and the entire focus of the book changed to be about the relationship between Cara and Nik Nik, or different events that were happening that I had no idea why they were included because I didn’t feel like they added anything to the story.

I also felt like I needed a map of the city and surrounding areas because I still can’t tell the difference between Ashtown and the Rurals and the deep wastes. All I know is there is Wiley City and there is Everything Else.

There was a lot to like here, but there was also a lot that could have been improved. I liked The Space Between Worlds enough that I plan to read future stories by Micaiah Johnson when she releases something new. I liked her writing style in this book, but I feel that with time and practice, she will become a much better author than what she has to offer here, as this very much feels like a debut novel. I want to give her a chance when she has had more time to hone her writing skills.

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