A Million Worlds With You is the third of the Firebird series in which the characters can jump between multiverses. The protagonist is Marguerite, whose parents are famous scientists and the inventors of this dimension-hopping tech. When her father is murdered, Marguerite has to go after the killer as he jumps from dimension to dimension. She’s determined to get her revenge, but with each jump, Marguerite learns of the life of another alternate Marguerite, and it makes her wonder if there’s such a thing as fate.
Honestly, I went into this series not knowing what to expect (besides the typical YA thing) and was happy to find it reminiscent of one of my favourite books as a kid, A Wrinkle in Time. Similarities: Meg Murry, while brilliant in her own right, feels inadequate next to her genius parents and little brother. Her father is missing and she tessers from planet to planet to find him. Of course, this is where the similarities end, and I don’t really think that the Firebird books are derivative of the Time Quartet at all. But it’s close enough that it makes me feel the same way, a little, reading it. Which is a great thing.
What isn’t so great, to me at least, is the heavy focus on romance, although I accept that this is a YA thing and many people enjoy that. As far as the romance goes, I kind of like the main love interest and don’t mind reading about the other (yes, there is a sort of love triangle too). And I see that there’s a point to the romance part of the plot, in that the book discusses, among other things, fate and necessity. Taking love out of the equation: if nearly every version of you in the multiverse does a thing, are you fated to do the same? And would your fate be sealed, the moment you know?
I’ve been reading a few books that touches on the subject – Marvel’s Civil War II titles, which is partly on predictive justice and partly on how necessity works (knowledge of what will happen in the future ensures that it would happen), and Jo Walton’s Thessaly books (the third book is titled Necessity, and explores the ideas of fate and logical necessity). Both these titles provide for better discussion of the theme, but I appreciated the addition of the Firebird books to that discussion. Claudia Gray’s multiverses explore the chains of fate and how the smallest choices and decisions could lead to big changes, and it’s really interesting to think about what would remain the same amidst all that. And before I get TOO rambly, I shall say that there is much to love about the characters in the series and the inventiveness of all the multiverses. I was delighted to recognise OUR world in one of the multiverses Marguerite visited, because it felt a bit Diana Wynne Jonesian, seeing our world as “the other” in a book.
Things that I didn’t like as much, or should have bothered me more: the science bit. I’m okay with SF not being completely accurate or sciencey. What I’m not so okay with (usually) are loopholes and rules that don’t really make sense other than to make a story convenient, which occasionally happens in this book (and series). But somehow, I didn’t really mind THAT much, reading this series, which I suppose is a good thing!
Note: I received a copy to prepare for the Claudia Gray book talk and Skype Q&A event we did at our store last year. Thank you, Harper & MDM!