The Walls of the Universe (Universe, #1)
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The Walls of the Universe (Universe #1)

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  594 ratings  ·  114 reviews
John Rayburn thought all of his problems were the mundane ones of an Ohio farm boy in his last year in high school. Then his doppelgänger appeared, tempted him with a device that let him travel across worlds, and stole his life from him. John soon finds himself caroming through universes, unable to return home—the device is broken. John settles in a new universe to unravel...more
Hardcover, 1st Edition, 384 pages
Published February 3rd 2009 by Tor Books
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Nancy
Posted at Shelf Inflicted

I love well-written time-travel and alternate world stories, and Dan said it was fun, so I knew it would be the perfect vacation read.

I was not disappointed at all. This was a very entertaining story about parallel universes, stolen lives, first love, and bullies.

John Rayburn is in his senior year in high school, living a rather uneventful life on an Ohio farm with his parents. A young man (known as John Prime) who looks just like him appears with a device that allows...more
Dan Schwent
What if your double from a parallel universe showed up on your doorstep one day? What if said double turned out to be an asshole of epic proportions who shunted you into another universe while he usurped your life?

That's the problem John Rayburn is facing in The Walls of the Universe. His double, John Prime for clarity, tricked him into using his malfunctioning transporter device. Will John be able to fix the wreck Prime has made of his life when or if he can fix the device and make it back home...more
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 3.75* of five

The Book Description: John Rayburn thought all of his problems were the mundane ones of an Ohio farm boy in his last year in high school. Then his doppelgänger appeared, tempted him with a device that let him travel across worlds, and stole his life from him. John soon finds himself caroming through universes, unable to return home—the device is broken. John settles in a new universe to unravel its secrets and fix it.

Meanwhile, his doppelgänger tries to exploit the commercia...more
Flannery
I picked this book up from the library after it was mentioned in an io9.com article about great sci-fi stories (and that also mentioned the movie rights to this book had recently been sold). Anyway, this book tells the story of a young man in Ohio who is visited one day by a version of himself from another universe. The story is set along the lines of a many worlds theory about universes wherein there are infinite (rather, not infinite but who knows how many) universes coexisting at the same tim...more
Trin
Sci-fi novel in which the possession of a universe-hopping device is apparently just a prelude to lots of boring emo white dude angst. Yawn. This book was published this year, yet it feels like it’s stuck back in the 1960s or something. The two major “technological advances” that are most heavily dealt with are pinball and the Rubik’s cube—does anybody even use a computer? The internet? And, like I said, it’s boring, with one of the two versions of the protagonist spending most of his time worry...more
Baby T-Rex
Great concept, but so many problems. It was a real struggle to finish this book.

1) Both main characters are super unlikable. John starts out not so bad, but somewhere along the way I stopped caring about him. Prime starts out an asshole and stays that way, and the love interests are just as bad. By the end of the book I hated every single character.

2) The writing is so bland. When something shocking happens (such as meeting an alternate self, or accidentally killing someone) each character react...more
Jeffrey
Paul Melko’s The Walls of the Universe is an engaging inter-dimensional space romp. Evoking Heinlein’s teen novels, Melko finds a way to re-introduce an old science fiction plot and make it fun again. It’s the characters, situations and story that are the key. His winning recipe includes mixing together physics, engineering, chicanery, toy design, time travel and violence. His imaginative idea - what happens if someone offers you a way to travel to a different universe. Why would you trust this...more
Michael
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ben Babcock
Books with adjectives like "fast-paced adventure-filled thrill-ride" are usually overhyped. Usually. In this case, The Walls of the Universe deserves such tags. It is fast-paced, adventure-filled, and thrilling. I finished it in a day--and it's a fair sized book--because I had trouble putting it down.

All of the main characters, with the possible exception of the villains, are complex. Melko sets up the story so we at first believe it will be John Rayburn versus ... John Rayburn. Another John--ca...more
Alan
Apr 07, 2009 Alan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Alan by: io9 (SF website)
Paul Melko's second novel merges thriller and alternate-universe science fiction almost seamlessly in this fast-paced entry. There's nothing really ground-breaking here; anyone who's read Richard C. Meredith's Timeliner trilogy (At the Narrow Passage; No Brother, No Friend and Vestiges of Time) or even, God help me, watched the TV show Sliders for more than one season, will recognize most of the furniture and settings being used here. But Melko has no pretentions to anything more than a good yar...more
Steven
This is a page-turning sci-fi thriller, with interweaving plots, sub-plots, and overarching conspiracies.

Seriously. Remember The DaVinci Code? Yes, it was historically crap and had flat, unbelievable characters... but what carried that book was the fast-moving plot, unveiling mysteries, and interlocking conspiracies. Take those good elements, add believable and likeable characters, and unobtrusive (but good) science - and then you've got The Walls of the Universe.

I'd definitely recommend this b...more
Travis
May 07, 2012 Travis rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Travis by: Chris
The 'Multiple Universe' sci-fi story is nothing new. Pretty much every sci-fi show worth its salt had at least one episode dedicated to the subject and one (Sliders) that was completely about travelling between parallel worlds. However, that doesn't mean a new venture into this sub-genre is a bad thing. I think it's great, actually. I just wish it had been done by a more talented writer.

Before I get into my criticisms, lets talk about the good parts of this book. First, I think it is clear that...more
Dale
Five out of five stars, but he almost lost one in the last 40 pages.

I bought this book from the author at Context, a science fiction convention in Columbus Ohio.

First the good stuff: It has been a long time since a book has grabbed me and made me want to keep turning pages even though I had a lot of other things that desperately needed to be done. This one did. The combination of the plot and characters I cared about kept me reading. The next issue of Point of Divergence may be a day or two lat...more
Tim Martin
This was a fun book, one that I found fast paced and quite enjoyable. It was an interesting take on the parallel universe sub-genre of science fiction, focusing more on the crossing-between-parallel-universes aspect rather than the better explored alternate history sub-genre (though it is that too).

The action begins very early in the book, something I liked, when John Rayburn, a farm boy high school senior in Ohio, meets his exact duplicate. Well, not exact duplicate, as this individual – who d...more
Tippy Jackson
3 days. I didn't even add this to my currently-reading section because I finished it before I had the chance. It was awesome, although I had a very long work day after staying up way too late to read it. The science was fun. The characters were awesome. I like that the Johns were complex characters. He starts you off with a good John and an evil John, but then he plays with it, having the "good" John progress as he gets desperate, and discovering a good side to "evil" John, or at least an unders...more
Cris
I didn't like this book, and none of my book group members did either. However, it did provide quite a bit to discuss, even if most of the discussion was about its flaws.

I found the basic premise intriguing before I started reading. But the execution didn't match the promise. I found much of the writing to be juvenile. The male characters were underdeveloped. The female characters were underdeveloped and often seemed like teenage boy wish-fulfillment. And the plot had some serious issues.

I agree...more
Suburbangardener
How can you not like a book with a line like, "You...mulched him?" "Walls of the Universe" has a good time playing with the concept of alternate universe and evil twins. None of the universes featured in the book appears to be our own, which just adds to the interest. The author evolves not one, but two protaganists, demonstrating how every choice a person makes changes that person irrevocably. And then there are those people who a jerks in every universe.
Pygmy
Oh, whatever happened to the times I could actually finish my books?

This wasn't bad; there seemed to be a bit of a YA feel to it (young protagonist, sentence structure), which is generally fine and good, and the beginning premise was interesting. But somewhere past the middle point, I sort of stopped caring about any of the characters, and didn't want to endure the potential embarassment of seeing how the all main character(s) get-rich schemes go ka-put.
Sofia
J'ai adoré!!!! Captivant avec un rythme haletant et des personnages très interessants :)
Juste une phrase qui décrit le style de ce livre. " Les murs de l'univers est aux univers parallèles ce que Retour vers le futur a été au voyage dans le temps" Aron Warner, producteur de Shrek ( qui a mis une option sur le livre pour en faire un film)
Trish
Great multiverse premise but the characters are stilted and unconvincing (especially when they morph from teen entrepreneurs into torture-victim warriors late in the action) and the small-town Ohio of the mid-2000s always seems like the 1950s.
Vivi King
Well-written parallel universe story, which is captivating, enjoyable and imaginative. I recommend it for fans of the genre.
Eddie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Christian
This is a one of those books that start out quite well, lose pace and ends with a bit of a thud. I rather liked the premise and the story had some real potential. Unfortunately, about halfway the story starts to drag, losing momentum and going of on a bit of a tangent. By the end, the author seems to have said to himself, "Well, I'm almost at the 400 page mark. Better wrap it up!" and finished with a rather lame and arbitrary conclusion. Having said that, if you are looking for a light and quick...more
Aaron
I checked this out from the Library after the positive review it got on io9.com and after I saw that the author had sold the movie rights. The book was described as evoking Back to the Future, but with universe hopping instead of time travel. Perhaps my expectations were too high, as a result of the BttF comparison, but I didn't think the book was that great.

The first 100 pages were awesome, filled with mystery, action, drama, and lots and lots of universe jumping. The last 50 pages were modera...more
Sarah
When was the last time you read a science fiction novel with doppelgangers? Yeah, that's right, I didn't think so! Do you know what a doppelganger is? It's your parallel self that lives in an alternate universe. The main character of this adult novel is John Rayburn, who is your typical Ohio farm kid. But then he meets himself from another universe and is tricked into strapping on a device and skipping to the next universe. There are thousands of universes in this world and John Rayburn is in ev...more
Erik
Aug 05, 2011 Erik added it
If you read any science fiction that deals with the multiverse, it usually feels like an exercise in creating interesting (though usually dumb) alternate realities without giving much time to the characters. In "Walls of the Universe," Melko does the exact opposite.



You meet farmboy John, a guy you could be or could be friends with, and are shown the world around him, as well as a few characters that pop up in other universes. Instead of being set pieces they feel like actual people, so when you...more
Ron Arden
Paul Melko's second novel took me on another fascinating journey. This one involves John Rayburn, who discovers that there are multiple universes and multiple John Rayburns in them. One of them, who he dubs John Prime, has a transfer device that enables him to move between universes. The device is broken and only allows the user to move up to the next universe (from 2405 to 2406 for example). John Prime was tricked by another John to use the device and can't get back home. Now he does the same t...more
Mike
Something out of the ordinary, in a good way.

Farmboy John Rayburn's other self from a different alternate universe tricks him into using the universe jumper he has, without explaining that it only works in one direction and he won't be able to get back. He then hijacks John's life.

What happens next, though, is that both Johns grow and develop in their different settings. Johnny Farmboy becomes tougher and smarter, and John Prime, the hijacker, becomes a halfway decent person. Both end up with di...more
Lianne Burwell
The Walls of the Universe in some ways made me think of Steven Gould's Jumper series. In Jumper, a teenaged boy discovers the ability to teleport. He uses it to indulge himself until he comes to the attention of those who would like to use him.

In Walls, John Rayburn is a normal teenager, about to finish high school, and dealing with the same sort of problems any kid his age would have. But one day he is approached by... himself. This other version (refered to later as John Prime) has a device th...more
Raechel
The Walls of the Universe is an amazing book about traveling the universe, well universes. The story is about John and John, actually John Prime. John is your average high school student and farm boy until suddenly he's confronted with himself - John Prime. Prime lets John in on a little secret - there are more universes than just our own, more than one of you (well John in this instance). Prime coaxes John into trying out the universe traveling device, so that he can visit the other universe's,...more
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Paul lives in Ohio with his beautiful wife and four fairly wonderful children. He is an active member of the Science Fiction Writers of America, where he sits on the board of directors as the South-Central Regional Director and is chair of the Grievance Committee.

Paul’s fiction has appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Realms of Fantasy, Spider Magazine, The Year’s Best Science Fiction, and other...more
More about Paul Melko...
Singularity's Ring Broken Universe (Universe, #2) Ten Sigmas & Other Unlikelihoods The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Second Annual Collection Other Worlds Than These

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“You...mulched him?'
I bought a few extra trees, and when we ran out of room around the house, I suggested one by the road. You can't even tell the dirt was dug up now.”
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