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The Walls of the Universe (Universe #1)

3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  724 Ratings  ·  128 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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(showing 1-30 of 1,916)
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Jul 27, 2015 Nancy rated it really liked it
Recommended to Nancy by: Dan Schwent
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
Dan Schwent
Sep 09, 2011 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf, 2010
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
Richard Derus
May 25, 2013 Richard Derus rated it liked it
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
I picked this book up from the library after it was mentioned in an 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
Jul 03, 2009 Trin rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi, american-lit
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
Jade Fey
Dec 12, 2011 Jade Fey rated it it was ok
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
Aug 07, 2012 Jeffrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 16, 2009 Michael rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 07, 2012 Travis rated it liked it
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
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
Apr 07, 2009 Alan rated it really liked it
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
Apr 15, 2009 Steven rated it really liked it
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
Sep 03, 2010 Dale rated it it was amazing
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
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
Tippy Jackson
Apr 07, 2010 Tippy Jackson rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
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
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
Oct 01, 2009 Meredith rated it it was ok
Very slow to start - not paced well enough for a plot-driven book, not developed enough for a character-driven book. Great cover design and nice idea (if not quite original) kept it on my to-read stack for a long time. So then once I picked it up, I felt like I should finish it. The second half was more interesting than the first, but all in all I feel like I can walk away from this book and never care to look back. I think other authors must have done more exciting multiverses. Also, I imagine ...more
Aug 25, 2015 Tristenkozinski rated it it was ok
Calling the Walls of the Universe Science-Fiction is only a technical truth, in reality the books science-fiction element are few and widely separated by most of the book. The premise for Wall of the Universe is a that a boy,john, is given a device that permits the travel between alternate universes. This concept is largely tWotU's only Sci-Fi element, still its a wonderful idea that promises many interesting worlds colored with humor and peril. What the author gives us instead boils down to thr ...more
Mar 15, 2009 Suburbangardener rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
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.
Jun 08, 2009 Pygmy rated it it was ok
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.
Mar 22, 2011 Sofia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: coup-de-coeur
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)
Jan 26, 2015 Jaybo1973 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book on the whole, although the middle third went on a bit. I used to watch sliders in the 90s and loved it and purposely looked for something similar. I think the author has definitely been influenced by it. sliders starts out with the main star, Quinn working on his theory of sliding, or transferring in this case. another Quinn turns up and finishes the equation allowing Quinn to slide/transfer. in this another John turns up with a device (John prime) allowing John to transfer/ ...more
Nov 26, 2011 Trish rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi
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.
Nov 15, 2015 Michelle rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
This story had an entrepreneurial heart enclosed with dimension hopping bookends. The middle bit about introducing new products into other dimensions for profit was necessary to the overall plot, yes, and mildly interesting,sure, but it needed to be about half the length.

I did get confused a few times as to which John in which dimension the chapter was starting off with. A simple header of which one whenever the perspective switched would have been very very helpful.

None of the characters real
Aug 09, 2010 King rated it really liked it
Well-written parallel universe story, which is captivating, enjoyable and imaginative. I recommend it for fans of the genre.
Sep 01, 2014 intrepideddie rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 06, 2009 Robert rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2008-9-season
A swift and easy read reminiscent of Heinlein's juveniles without the hard science or moral philosophy.
Aug 07, 2014 Christian rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
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
Aug 16, 2015 Doni rated it liked it
This book did exactly what I would do if writing a book about parallel universes which is following the stories of two versions of the same character that diverge at a certain point. It also very competently embedded the science of the story by making one of the characters a physics student who was trying to fix or replicate the broken device that allowed him to jump from one universe to another. There was more killing it in than I preferred, but even that element brought out an interesting phil ...more
Danny Delacruz
Dec 11, 2014 Danny Delacruz rated it it was amazing
I personally loved this book. The challenge of getting the reader to see through their own eyes what was happening in Rayburn's world, was a success by Paul Melko. The events could strike a vein, when we look at our own world. A book is supposed to be fun, the relationships in the story aren't the best I've read, but the events that shape up the story are very well written. One of the fastest bricks I've read. (One sitting) I recommend it to sci-fi lovers and thriller fans alike. Might of been a ...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 about Paul Melko...

Other Books in the Series

Universe (2 books)
  • Broken Universe (Universe, #2)

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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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