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The Space Between Worlds

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A multiverse-hopping outsider discovers a secret that threatens her home world and her fragile place in it--a stunning sci-fi debut that's both a cross-dimensional adventure and a powerful examination of identity, privilege, and belonging.

CARA IS DEAD ON THREE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FOUR WORLDS.

The multiverse business is booming, but there's just one catch: no one can visit a world where their counterpart is still alive.

Enter Cara, whose parallel selves happen to be exceptionally good at dying--from diseases, from turf wars, from vendettas they couldn't outrun.

But on this earth, Cara's survived. And she's reaping the benefits, thanks to the well-heeled Wiley City scientists who ID'd her as an outlier and plucked her from the dirt. Now she's got a new job collecting offworld data, a path to citizenship, and a near-perfect Wiley City accent. Now she can pretend she's always lived in the city she grew up staring at from the outside, even if she feels like a fraud on either side of its walls.

But when one of her eight remaining doppelgangers dies under mysterious circumstances, Cara is plunged into a new world with an old secret. What she discovers will connect her past and future in ways she never could have imagined--and reveal her own role in a plot that endangers not just her world, but the entire multiverse.

329 pages, Hardcover

First published August 4, 2020

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About the author

Micaiah Johnson

5 books1,108 followers
Micaiah Johnson was raised in California's Mojave Desert surrounded by trees named Joshua and women who told stories.

She received her Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the University of California, Riverside and her Master of Fine Arts in fiction from Rutgers-Camden. She now studies American Literature at Vanderbilt University where she focuses on critical race theory... and automatons.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,072 reviews
Profile Image for chai ♡.
321 reviews153k followers
February 3, 2023
“Have you encountered any others who have truly met themselves?” This line from Carmen Maria Machado’s short-story collection Her Body and Other Parties stuck in my mind like a dart the first time I read it, and while I was reading The Space Between Worlds it resurfaced again, ringing in my ears so clearly.

Imagine peering into a mirror, blinking out through familiar eyes, and seeing another life reflected back at you, both knowable and utterly beyond your grasp. You’re looking at a person from a world crafted from choices you had not made, paths you had not followed. This person who is almost you but not quite, not all the way. If you reached for yourself, would you recognize your own topography? Or will you always measure the distance between the person you would have been and the person you have become? More important, would you throw yourself into your reflection in the hopes of forgetting who you are? For Cara, the protagonist of Johnson’s feverishly inventive and star-bright debut, the answer is easy as breathing: yes.

“You do this a lot?”
“It’s kind of my special gift.”
“World hopping?”
I swallow. “Dying.”


The Space Between Worlds is a novel that gathers one of science fiction’s oldest and most enduring tales (alternate worlds, stacked beside ours like sheets of paper, and the people who can dip like hummingbirds from one to another), puts an intricate, clever spin on it (you can’t travel to a parallel universe where your doppelgänger is still alive without great cost) and wrings it for all the thematic and emotional gravity it can get.

From the very first page, The Space Between Worlds takes firm hold and doesn’t let go. Science fiction novels typically have to marshal a wealth of information in order to explain the workings of new unfamiliar concepts and theory, to peel back the layers of the author’s world and fire up the reader’s imagination, but The Space Between Worlds skims along without becoming mired in leaden exposition. The remarkable elements of Johnson’s world come readily, completely. The novel explains what it needs to, when it needs to be said. The author puts all the pieces in place, ushering readers into her story with ample clarity and narrative precision, and it is such a thrill to watch the gears of the story turn once they’re set in motion.

The details of Cara’s character, however, don’t yield as easily. They instead emerge drip by drip throughout the story, as if from the tip of a pipette. You get the sense that something essential is shielded—the depths of her and the secrets she cast before her, vast as her own shadow—and is being released in small bursts until it becomes a flood. And looking at this flood, at the wreckage of this woman, I wanted, desperately, to understand what, who, had wrecked her.

Fortunately, Johnson has an impeccable eye for exploring emotional wreckage. Cara’s character is accessible, understandable in all the ways that she is wounded, angry, scared—and flawed. And the slow, grim unwinding of her character makes for the novel’s most hard-hitting and rewarding experience.

The Space Between Worlds is a novel that acknowledges trauma and its terrible volume. How it roils and cracks, beats in your blood like drumming under the ground, a sound to crack open the world. Like Cara, many of us carry our traumas, dragging them behind like shackles on both ankles, much further than we imagined we would. We think if we put up enough walls around them, or bury them in a tomb, shoved down deep where the sun can’t reach them, if we stay in the shallows, they’d be where we’d left them. But then, inevitably, the low, steady thrum of the past starts bubbling to the surface. And then it erupts.

Cara has refined burying the past, practiced it like a high art: she smiled through teeth to hide the grimace, donned masks until they felt like her face, and kept secrets until the lies ate away at her like moths in cloth. It was a regular habit, as vital and unconscious to her as breathing. When you’ve been raised around monsters, and knew the color of your blood, the innate need to self-preserve becomes this dwarfing, all-consuming, all-devouring thing. A thing with weight and press, and it’s weight and press that Cara felt as though it were on her shoulders. Cara learned self-preservation before she could learn regret. She measured her capacity for enduring pain to the precise outer edge of its limits, and knew the difference between happiness and shivering alone in the shadows. In hundreds of worlds, Cara lives with her back to the wall, ruled by fear of death, but in the world she escapes to, she survives in mockery of everything that should have destroyed her. And it’s easier to survive when you move through life with one foot placed in front of the other as if walking on a tightrope. It’s easier still to do it on your own, without close friendships—let alone intimate relationships.

But people have a way of dipping around Cara’s guard, of scrabbling at her armor, including Dell, Cara’s supervisor. In another version of Cara’s world, Cara’s relationship with Dell may have had the opportunity to be based on more than the resentful, grudging necessity of co-workers who navigate around each other like ships and icebergs. In another version of Cara’s world, Dell wasn’t too afraid of where Cara came from to want her, and Cara wasn’t too afraid that Dell would disappear into the dark pit that is Cara’s past to confront her about it. In this world, their moments together are drenched with a bruised, unthwarted longing, filled with endless distances.

There’s a deep, wounded familiarity to Cara’s journey that snagged in my heart, like cloth caught in a branch: the nagging sense that you’ve been looking at the world through a breath-fogged mirror, and that if you were to wipe away the condensation and look at yourself—at this clear and cold reflection of your truest self—you would be utterly horrified by what you saw. That you haven’t truly met yourself, and that you wouldn’t want to—especially in the dark.

They say hunting monsters will turn you into one. That isn’t what’s happening now. Sometimes to kill a dragon, you have to remember that you breathe fire too. This isn’t a becoming; it’s a revealing. I’ve been a monster all along.


But The Space Between Worlds isn’t a gray, dreary afternoon of a book. Colors and detail start to fill in like paint soaking into paper when kindness and wisdom and love, always flickering through the pages, begin to simmer together, like bubbles in a cauldron. Johnson acknowledges that we are more than the worst things we’ve done, and we are more than the worst things that have been done to us. We are defined by more than our pasts, or our traumas—we are the flowing scripts we use to imagine for ourselves new scrolls, flapping defiantly behind us like wings. New tomorrows, new beginnings. Ultimately, the novel’s biggest gift is that it never loses sight of the human emotions at its core, and that the author never once forgets that everyone aches.

Along the way, the author also ponders, frames, and interrogates large philosophical and ethical questions, which only intensifies the story’s emotional wallop: about racism and xenophobia and how they’ve always had a fluid relationship with capitalism, about science and how it can be weaponized by those who have a vested interest in sustaining a system that keeps people marching dully along the same, mechanistic lines, and about humanity and our place in the metaphysical clockwork of existence.

But for all its thematic gravity, The Space Between Worlds is a lot of fun too. It’s a story that gutted me and buoyed me. An excellent novel with a gripping plot, tenderly rendered characters, and plenty to think about long after it’s over. Whatever Johnson decides to write after this, she has a fan for life!

It is only one world in infinite universes where this impossible happiness exists, but that is what makes it so valuable.
Profile Image for Yun.
513 reviews20k followers
December 31, 2021
I haven't met a multiverse story I didn't like, until now.

Conceptually, The Space Between Worlds has a lot of potential. In this version of parallel universes, you can only travel to a different one if your counterpart is already dead. Enter Cara, who has died in most other worlds, so she's able to travel between them. Yep, I can totally get behind that. But that was pretty much it for things I enjoyed, and it was only a very small part of the story.

Where this book fell apart for me is in almost everything else.

To start with, this story is extremely hard to follow. I'm honestly baffled because the concept of a parallel universe isn't that difficult to grasp; it's just like our universe but with a few minor changes. And yet, the worldbuilding here is maximumly awkward and lumbering, turning small differences into obscure and confusing concepts that were never fully explained.

Information is just dumped on the reader without any consideration for whether it's necessary or relevant. Pages upon pages are spent on completely irrelevant worlds we won't visit again or people we don't need to know (most of whom have multiple names in each universe). But when we get to crucial information (what is a runner?), no explanation is given, so I never got a solid grasp of these worlds.

And it's not just the worldbuilding, but the writing as a whole. It feels fragmented and random. Sentences, paragraphs, and scenes don't logically follow from previous ones. Even dialogues don't really make sense. It's as if the author had written monologues for each speaker, then just interweaved their lines together and called it a conversation.

There was supposed to be a queer love story in here, but that baffled me too. Like, where is it? If Cara didn't explicitly tell the reader that she's in love with Dell and constantly state that she's flirting with her, I wouldn't have guessed from her words or their interactions.

I also couldn't connect with any of the characters. Their motivations, feelings, and actions all remain a mystery to me. In particular, Cara's simultaneous blend of cynically detached while also angsty philosophical narrative tone did not work for me, and came across as very naïve and immature. Also, what kind of names are Nik Nik and Mr. Cheeks? I kept thinking I'm reading about a toddler and his pet instead of an emperor and his runner.

Still, all that can be overlooked if the plot made sense. But it doesn't. It feels like there are multiple separate stories in here instead of one coherent one. And they were all just mashed up together in the most convoluted and haphazard way possible.

What a waste. Conceptually, this is a good one. But the execution is so confusing as to be almost incomprehensible. Nothing in here made sense to me. Not the writing, nor the story, nor the characters, nor the worldbuilding. What a complete disappointment this turned out to be.
Profile Image for Joel Rochester.
62 reviews17.3k followers
August 12, 2020
T/W: This story contains mentions of domestic and emotional abuse through past traumas experienced by our main character.

The Space Between Worlds follows Cara, who out of the 380 worlds that Earth Zero can resonate with, she is alive on only 8. Cara works for a company that specializes in gathering intel about these universes. However, when one of her counterparts is murdered under mysterious circumstances, secrets about herself and the multiverse are revealed that may change the course of her destiny. This is a story about a black bisexual woman, fighting for survival, and falling in love with her female co-worker. I don't think you'll want to miss out on this one.

This book surprised me in a multitude of ways. I initially heard about this book through randomly browsing on Goodreads and it immediately made its way onto my radar. Being one of my most anticipated sci-fi reads of the year, I went in with slightly high expectations of this novel and I certainly wasn't disappointed.

Micaiah Johnson can write.

She was able to beautifully craft a world, characters, and a story that I truly cared for and left a lasting impression on me right after I finished it.

Honestly, my first thought after finishing the book was "I need more Cara and Dell content STAT" but I was also super satisfied with how this book ended should it remain a standalone. However, I felt that this book handled it's multiverse very well and it was explained in a clear and concise way that made it easy to follow along with.

I loved Micaiah Johnson's writing. There's just something about it that's so poetic and yet grounded in the harsh reality that her story takes place in that makes me *scream* with amazement. Here are some of my favourite quotes from the story:

"I have seen two worlds now and the space between. We are a wonder."
"The first thing a monster learns is when to lie."
"The universe erases me, but it also remakes me again and again, so there must be something worthwhile in this image."
"I want to ask her why that's a good thing. I want to tell her that I'm not even sure I can die anymore, that I think my destiny is this: to watch every version of myself bleed on different ground until I am all that's left."

I find that the writing for this story was extremely easy to follow and that Micaiah Johnson nailed her pacing throughout. There was one moment in the story where I was like "uh, what's happening?" but then literally the next page sorted that right out for me.
Specifically, I loved how the plot moved at a reasonable pace and allowed us time to gather the right information and letting it steep in our minds before delivering us to the next major plot point and it was GREAT! Plus, I got to theorizing and some of my theories actually turned out to be correct so, I was quite proud of myself!

Cara, as our protagonist, I found was extremely concrete and three-dimensional. She has her flaws, being extremely stubborn but she also carries her own personal traumas with her. Cara explores her history with being physically and emotionally abused and I couldn't help but one, feel for her but also understand her on a deeper level as someone who was emotionally abused. Cara goes THROUGH IT in this story but I can't help but feel proud of her and proud of the life she has made for herself.

Now, let's talk about DELL. Not the computer, my QUEEN. Dell is honestly one of the most amazing characters in this book, admittedly a little stand-offish but for *reasons* that are explained later on in the story. Dell truly cares about Cara and the two of them do have some witty banter now and again and I just adore the two of them so much. I need them married and I need more content from them.

Other characters worth noting were Esther, Jean, and Adam. Esther and Cara's sibling relationship is just so cute and reminiscent of my own relationship with my younger sister. I find the pair of them to just have a dynamic between siblings that is written super well and something that I easily related to. Jean, on the other hand, was Cara's father figure in the novel who tried to offer nuggets of wisdom whenever he could. Jean was a good man and I loved him whenever he appeared.

Adam, he's such an interesting mind, as the man who was behind the ability to explore the multiverse, he's definitely got a lot on his plate. I found him to be extremely intelligent, calculated, and reminiscent of his other-universe counterparts, whom you meet in the story.

This book is set on a futuristic Earth, where it has been designated Earth Zero. The science behind the multi-dimensional range is answered very quickly, as since there are technically an infinite amount of universes, it wouldn't make sense if there were only 380. Earth Zero can only resonate with 380 other universes because their frequency is only *ever so slightly** different from Earth Zero's. Big enough to make a change on the Earth but small enough that the frequency is almost the same.

Apart from that, those on Earth Zero who are white and/or rich live in a high tower whilst those who are not live in slums and shantytowns, victims to a blazing and scorching sun. This draws a lot into the themes and criticisms that Johnson makes as those with paler skin don't work and don't go outside, which draws a lot into the argument of colorism as the rich intentionally have paler, whiter skin, giving them more privilege and more power as they'll appear more conventionally beautiful to those in their society.

Overall though, I found the worldbuilding to be highly intriguing and I enjoyed finding out each little new nugget of information when it was revealed to me.

Micaiah Johnson also draws critiques towards classism, more specifically racial classism and how the quality of life differs between white people and Black and other minority ethnic people. She does this wonderfully when she notes that the advanced society she has built "needed trash people. Poor black and brown people. People somehow born on the "wrong side" of the wall, even though they were the ones who built it." It depicts the societal issues that are deeply rooted within the society that Johnson has built and it is one of the many focal points of this story.

This story also draws criticism on human greed and how our hunger for knowledge can do more harm than good. My thoughts when I started Part Four of this novel were, "It doesn't matter if we discover multiple realities, the reality is always going to be the same, filled with hatred, strife, and greed. We as a collective are greedy and once we discover more universes, we will want to control them all. We desire power and control and we will stop at nothing to claim it. But by doing so, we ignore what's best for the greater good." Whilst I would love to discover multiple universes, I think it would set up an entire debate about futuristic colonisation.

These themes matter strongly in The Space Between Worlds because they're in essence, what drives Cara throughout the story. She's a Black woman struggling to survive in a higher class society that refuses to accept her because of the colour of her skin, and her hunger for power so that she can remain in this society but also, prove herself useful to them. It's a constant struggle for people of colour as we're constantly having to prove ourselves to white people to show that we're "good enough" when instead, that shouldn't need to happen at all, they should accept us just as we are without having to challenge our intelligence nor our integrity.

I feel as though in the end, Cara's world and our world aren't that much different. In her own words, "it's not a different world. It's still our world, just with different paths taken".

All in all, if you're a fan of soft sci-fi and interdimensional travel, you need to read this book. If you're looking for a good sci-fi to get into, this is a great book for that.

This story showed me that survival isn't only just about surviving, it's also about what comes after. How you cope with that pain and how you grow from it.

The Space Between Worlds is a phenomenal book, and I highly recommend you pick it up.

p.s A SEQUEL WITH CARA AND DELL PLS OR JUST A SHORT STORY I NEED MORE CONTENT IN MY LIFE
Profile Image for Lisa of Troy.
403 reviews3,539 followers
March 26, 2023
Micaiah Johnson’s The Space Between Worlds is a science-fiction novel centered on Cara who travels to parallel universes. However, there are rules to traveling to different worlds. No one can travel to a world where they are still alive. This is good news for Cara because she is dead on most of the other worlds; therefore, she can travel to almost all of the other worlds. However, Cara is harboring a secret, and she discovers the secrets of others.

Recently, I have been reading Philip Pullman’s Daemon Voices which is a collection of essays on storytelling. But wait this is a review for The Space Between Words? Hold your horses. I’m getting to it. There is an essay in Daemon Voices about writing fantasy where he mentions that authors of fantasy need to focus on the path, not the worldbuilding. And I could not agree more! I don’t connect with extensive worldbuilding.

In The Space Between Worlds, Johnson does a perfect job focusing on the path. The worldbuilding is interesting and straightforward and always furthers the plot. In my opinion, she did an even better job than Pullman in regards to sticking to the path.

The Space Between Worlds is absolutely riveting during the first 50%. It raises some really important questions. How would your life be any different if you had 374 different versions of you? Despite your best efforts, are there certain factors in your life that are always with you?

This book also focused a lot on class and identity. Cara is trying to reconcile being from Ashtown, where things aren’t so shiny and promising, and working in Wiley City.

The last half of the book is a bit too slow. The plot develops to a point where we know where we are going, and I just wanted to get there already. The ending is lackluster and forgettable which is really a shame because I can already think of a stronger ending that would have been a cliffhanger that could have lead into another book.

Overall, a very interesting fantasy book by Micaiah Johnson. The Space Between Worlds is her debut novel so this is one author that I am putting on my “to read again” list.

2023 Reading Schedule
Jan Alice in Wonderland
Feb Notes from a Small Island
Mar Cloud Atlas
Apr On the Road
May The Color Purple
Jun Bleak House
Jul Bridget Jones’s Diary
Aug Anna Karenina
Sep The Secret History
Oct Brave New World
Nov A Confederacy of Dunces
Dec The Count of Monte Cristo

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Profile Image for Giorgia Reads.
1,010 reviews1,961 followers
March 22, 2021
3,5 stars

I put off writing this review for a couple of reasons.

1. I couldn’t settle on a rating.
2. I wanted to know if it would stick with me in the days after finishing it.

Now, I didn’t have to make it so complicated, but it’s odd to rate and review a book which you loved the potential of but it’s glaringly obvious that it didn’t offer everything it promised.

I genuinely loved the world building, the characters and the writing and if this was the start of a trilogy I would have been ecstatic. But instead, the book developed (tried to at least) so many plot points which were then left out of the main story and therefore I was left without a sense of finality.


Some spoilers ahead:

There were so many interesting characters which deserved to have the highlight on them as well. Esther - could have had amazing character development because she was intriguing from the get go, Mr. Cheeks- played the part of the loyal soldier but with a twist, Nik Nik - a villain of circumstance?! Was he really a villain or a by product familial history and dynamics.

If a character has a different personality and motivations in one or more of the 378 multiverses discovered, is that proof of the fact that we are victims of circumstance and our upbringing? Can that be an excuse for bad behaviour and eventually redemption?

Next up is Adra/Adam, the so called villain of the story, but not really a villain if we are to go by the hints left at the end, where he is trying to enforce a relationship with his brother (maybe forced by impending death, or familial bonds? We’ll never know). Here, with this character is where the waters get muddy. I got the the sense that he was the all around villain because in every world he was either the blood thirsty emperor or the tech mogul obsessed with achieving fame for his brilliant discoveries. For him it wasn’t about progress but about being hailed as a genius and possessing the key to the future which only he can make use of. I got the sense that the author wanted to give him some shades of grey as well instead of all black. Which is fine, nobody is purely evil. But I felt like it didn’t work here. There wasn’t enough time in the 330 pages of this book for all these points to be made. So I was left wondering what was the purpose of hinting that Adra/Adam, was apparently talking to his brother again?! That was just frustrating and confusing information.

You can’t just throw everything in this book like it’s soup. But it felt that way.

Another point of contention is Dell and the relationship she had with Cara, which “developed” mostly in the last part of the book. Again, there was nothing natural and interesting to read about there. It all came about in a very forced manner to wrap things up and I never felt like I got the sense of who Dell was as a person, separate from Cara’s characterisation of her.

The ending was extremely rushed and hastily put together and it left me with more questions and a need to know and read more about that world.

Also, there was a lot of woe is me internal monologue from Cara, about her being an Ashtowner who will never fit in and who will be looked down upon because she is not one of them and how her life is so so so hard compared to the people who live in Wiley City. And that whole spiel she carried on and on about felt refreshing and new the first time or two, but then it just felt egocentric and selfish. We weren’t so much shown her woes as we were told about them. She wasn’t a good character that was for sure l. She was flawed and towards the end she realised this and went onto this redemption arc of sorts which again : Rushed.

So, once again, I loved the post apocalyptic world where this was set and the idea of Wiley City and Ashtown -two different systems of governing (one with politicians who pose as civil and one with a tyrannical emperor who rules via fear)- but I wanted more, especially about the Emperor and Ashtown.
I loved the idea of multiverse - but again, I wanted way more of that action.
I loved the characters (not so much Cara) - but they were severely disregarded.
And lastly I loved the potential it had and hope that this author decides to expend her universes in the future and give us more than a stand-alone especially since this is not a standalone kind of story.

If I were to describe this book in a few words it would be: Great but Rushed.
Profile Image for donna backshall.
643 reviews178 followers
July 7, 2021
I got 65% through this and then I simply had to walk away. When every time you think "I have some time to read!" and your gut groans, "Ugh, but it's that book", then you know it's time to pick up another one. A better one. One that you're excited to read.

I was not excited about this one.

The Space Between Worlds had such great ratings and reviews, and this parallel worlds sci-fi genre is absolutely my go-to. But I couldn't connect with the story or the characters.

If I had to classify it, I'd say it was kind of a YA multiverse Mad Max for people of color. I'm all for finding badass brown gals to relate to in my books. However, this one didn't ring true. No sonorous tone, but rather an awful clanging with each new odd name (Nik Nik?) or contrived political hurdle.

Additionally, there wasn't much science in this "science fiction" novel. It was mostly politics and philosophy, and I got tired of wading through all the stressful push and pull, never uncovering the cool tech and science. Science wasn't even an afterthought. It never explained the 'how' behind the amazing multi-world travel that was going on, only that it was "figured out" by this guy. *sigh*

So plenty of people loved this, and yes, there is a lot to enjoy, but for me there was too much of the wrong stuff bogging it down for me to settle in and say "in this book is exactly where I want to be."
Profile Image for The Captain.
1,077 reviews373 followers
August 7, 2022
Ahoy there me mateys!  This book's premise drew me in - multiverse travel with a murder mystery and a queer protagonist.  Cool.  While this book was enjoyable, I did have some issues that led to it not being a favorite.

So the story follows Cara who is one of the few people who can travel between the multiverses.  People on Earth Zero can access 380 other versions of Earth but only if their doppelganger on that world is dead.  Cara's other selves are very good at dying.  So much so that that there are only eight of her selves left.  So when one of those eight is murdered she gets concerned.

I really did love the set up for this book and the idea of how the multiverses worked and how they were used by the major corporation.  The science has no real explanations about how it works but I was okay with that.  I really enjoyed the limitations on multiverse travel.  The main character, Cara, was fun and I loved the hints of mystery about her from the very beginning.

The major problem was that the book was exciting and interesting in the beginning and then basically half-way through has a false ending where it felt like the story was mostly done.  I got confused about where it could go next.  The second half was bogged down in uninteresting politics, Cara making bad choices, boring relationship drama that could have been solved by just talking, and predictable bad guy actions.

This was a book that when finished just felt unsatisfying.  The more I think about how it all went down, the more I find unanswered questions, plot holes, nonsensical technology and ridiculous character choices.  For example they can endlessly recycle plastic and have parallel universes but nobody knows how to build guns.  And the gun subplot is just weird.  Also how society and class are structured don't really make sense either.

So ultimately, I don't think I could personally recommend this book to anyone even if I am not upset that I read it.  I just wish it weren't so flawed.  Arrrr!
Profile Image for Holly.
1,431 reviews986 followers
August 23, 2020
4.5 stars

Easily one of the best books I have read this year. If you have read and enjoyed Dark Matter, Recursion, or All Our Yesterdays, I would suggest picking this up.

For those who haven't read any of those books: I think almost everyone is aware of the idea of the multiverse - almost identical universes that only differ based on choices that were made. So for example on this Earth you decided to go to college, but on another Earth you might have decided to delay college to go on a summer European backpacking trip where you fell in love and never came back home, but on another Earth you may have not looked both ways before crossing the street as a child and died in an accident so you never even reached the age to decide to go to college or not.

This book takes places on 'Earth Zero' where the ability to transverse between the different Earths is now possible as long as you follow one very important rule. You can only travel to an Earth where you have already died, otherwise there are deadly consequences.

Cara is lucky/unlucky enough to have died on most of the Earths that can be reached, so she is a highly valued 'transverser'. I really enjoyed the twists this book takes as Cara travels between Earths. Just when I thought I knew where this book was headed, it completely changed! I don't want to give any of the plot away. Just read it :)
May 9, 2021
Q: … I have seen two worlds now and the space between. We are a wonder... (c)
Q: I’ve never been afraid to die, which has probably been my problem on more than one Earth. (c) Just one of the problems, I bet.
Q: Another reason there are so few of me left alive: I was not a fast child. (c)

The overall rating: we start at 5 stars since I loved this one and finished it and enjoyed it a lot (even with all my grumbling!).

The adjustments:
+1 star: Caramenta, Caralee, Nelline… all of these are the parallels of our MC. Well, the one we're looking at is Caralee but hush, that's a secret. Love this twist.

Had there been no this twist, this would've been another dreary parallel-worlds-based read. But this! This twisty made it all so much more stand out!

-1 star: What I don't love so much is how it was delivered. Here's how it rolls:
Q:
The religious are the only ones who use explosive powders anymore. ...
Voices murmur through the crowd. This is when Ruralites believe in making confession, when the fire has grabbed God’s attention and no mortal ears can hear through the explosion. So I wait, and when the next bloom of gold breaks open into the sky with a scream, I tell my truth.
“I am not Caramenta,” I say. “Caramenta is dead.” (c)

Now, let's imagine you have a powerful, lifechanging secret with unimaginable consequences. What do you do? I know, I know: you stand in the middle of a jolly croud and blurt in to the accompaniment of fireworks. Right?

Yes, supposedly they all confess like that AND they use fireworks to cover it up but has anyone ever heard fireworks? Let's just highlight that it's really challenging to get a firework blast cover whole phrases reliably. Several syllables - likely but confessing, this, Caralee, are you out of your anyworldly mind?

- 1 star:
We are told that there are about 300 worlds that vibrate just right with ours to visit it. Now, what would that entail? That would mean that of all the universes that are slightly different from ours, only 300 are different but not too much to be visitable. We don't really know how worlds are created but basically, our every decision should have parallel worlds branching out: you take the underground instead of bus - new world. You broke your coffee mug - there should be still innumerable other worlds where it's still standing on your desk.

We learn, that the life of our MC is different enough in at least quite a lot of the worlds to, uh, warrant very different names, destinies, etc. But where are all the millions of Caramenta-containing worlds and worlds where Caralex has a very success career in the House and? Why only 300-something worlds? Are in this world-building worlds created only after a certain step slightly bigger than some constant is reached? Or are they just vising the ones that are not only not too different but also different enough? We aren't told anything about it.

+ 1 star:
The above issue is actually a nice way of structuring the plot. Just imagine how confusing it would be to compare the lives of almost-same Caramentas from worlds 1548 and 12091?


+ 1 star: Gotta love the Eridanus Void: Q: The universe is brimming with stars and life, but there is a section of sky that is utterly dead and empty. They call it a cold spot, a supervoid, and they say it got that way because two parallel universes got too close to touching. (c)

- 1 star:
This is NOT a powerful examination of anything other than that I need to read Brian Greene's Hidden Reality right now, much less of identity or privilege. Love the opening quote from Brian Greene's 'Hidden Reality'! The multiverse concept is mind-bending, even if well-used by other writers. Any person who thinks that this is 'a powerful examination' will believe that all poor people spend their lives being judgmentally jealous of the wealthier ones, that they walk through their lives with faces permanently scrounged in dislike of everything and greenified… That's not the fair and not the case. Some people might but that would reflect more of personal issues rather than social ones.

I think that the focus on this person being rich and that person not being rich and this person wearing clothes 'more expensive than mine' and 'rich people problems' and how people compare to me, ME, ME DEAREST… is an example of very taudry and restraining thinking. If I wanted to read something like that, I would've picked up something to read by 'bolsheviks' or USSR-written on the concept of bourgeoisie and economic exploitation and the rest of the gig. That this stuff was not written by any communists but instead by who? some California resident? is deliciously ironic. If not for that, I could've sworn that this was an anticapitalism rant in progress.

Apart from politics, when people use the terms 'rich' and 'not rich' as classifications, that's usually a sign of them feeling left out, feeling very poor and bereft of any kind of chances to change anything. AND usually they believe that both 'being rich' and 'being poor' is a stigma, some sort of not economic classification but a deep conflict that bothers them a lot. It's like some deep-seated social paranoia where people can't just stop looking at other people they consider to be 'rich' and can't help feeling judgmental about this quality.

Personally, I can't say I've ever felt this distinction to be an important one: socially, privately or in any other way. I just think there are so many better things to do with one's head other than going about life thinking who's 'rich' and who isn't. Besides, there are so many shades of 'rich', definitely more than shades of snow for Eskimos. But that's probably just my headspace being my headspace.

So, the bottomline is that reading about this MC is very much likely to give me a very intense eyeballs workout. I totally should just DNF this right away. After the 1st very shallow chapter. But… as a glutton for punishment, I'll press on. Yay to me.

The overall rating: 5 stars.

...
Lgbt… doesn't seem very well-developed… Well, it is there, let it be.

Nyame: goddess of the planets and dark. It's supposedly her who gives the traversers kisses (with teeth) / beatings. (Kidding! That's not precisely so.)

Too bad they don't really get to visit any really alient worlds.

Their religion is a mish-mash: they read the Bible and Quaran simultaneously and worship Mary and Krishna side by side. Also, confessing to fireworks? Strangely that makes sense in the Caramenta way.

Q:
Ruralites aren’t allowed to be angry, not at other people, because it would violate their code of endless compassion and understanding. (c) Oh, another unhealthy thing.

'Rich' is used 15 time throughout the novel:
Q:
people edging out other people to make money buying and selling something invisible just sounds like rich-people problems. (c)
Q:
She’s a rich person, but the kind who’s always going to be rich. Rich so far back it’d take two generations of fuckups for her family to go broke. There’s a lot of this up here in the city. Not new-money rich people, like Adam Bosch, but whole rich families where the wealth is spread out among the members so it doesn’t attract attention. (c)

A lot of comparing oneself with other people happens (no, this is not an examination of privilege or belonging, this is an illustration of personal insecurities, lead either by social issues experience or by pretty much any other stuff):
Q:
She was always smart, savvier than me, so her procedural answer was a hint to drop it. (c)
Q:
It would reek of gratitude. And maybe she’d be insecure, think she was less than me. I don’t want to make Dell feel like that, don’t want to make her feel the way she makes me feel. (c)
Q:
All that subtle anger I’d harbored against her, thinking she thought she was better than me, did she feel it? (c)
Q:
She takes it as an insult, which I take as an insult. We can’t ever really talk. I want to take her hands and tell her that, yes, she is better than me but that is because she is better than me. (c) THAN ME, THAN ME, THAN ME. Gosh. That's a thoroughly unpleasant way to think one's way through life, isn't it?

More social unequity obsession (very unhealthy):
Q:
These days I look for status by reading clothes, haircuts, and high-dollar wrist cuffs, but this too-pretty runner reminds me that I grew up wanting to lick silver teeth. (c) Disgusting.
Q:
He is blond, like his daughter. It’s an advertisement. Real Wileyites have white hair and skin so pale it’s a shade off blue. Daniel’s hair reminds his congregation that his great-grandfather came here willingly as a missionary from the city, not as a refugee or migrant trying to get into it. (c) Advertisement? What was the guy supposed to do about his hair and skin? This sounds like he was doing this on purpose.

Now, this is powerful:
Q:
REASONS I HAVE DIED:
The emperor of the wasteland wanted to make an example of my mother, and started with me.
One of my mother’s boyfriends wanted to cover up what he did to me.
I was born addicted and my lungs didn’t develop.
I was born addicted and my brain didn’t develop.
I was left alone, and a stranger came along.
The runners came for a neighbor, and I was in the way.
The runners came for my mother, and I was in the way.
The runners came for my mother’s boyfriend, and I was in the way.
The runners came for no one, serving nothing at all but chaos and fear, and I was what they found.
Sometimes, I was just forgotten in the shed where she kept me while she worked or spun out, and in the length of her high and the heat of the sun I fell asleep alone and hungry and forever. (c)

The romance bits are so great:
Q:
she finally understands that all my flirting is just hiding in plain sight, just being so obvious she’d never guess she is the one thing on this world that I know and all I want. (c)

Plain inconsistencies:
Q:
At least when we were poor she was original, painting murals on the concrete with the same paste she used to dye her hair. (c) They were supposed to be poor. And yet pain walls with hair dye paste? Imagine painting one's walls with hair dye - wouldn't that be wasteful (if not impractical?)

Other interesting bits:
Q:
Of the 380 Earths with which we can resonate, I’m dead in 372. No, 373 now. (c)
Q:
EVEN WORTHLESS THINGS can become valuable once they become rare. This is the grand lesson of my life. (c)
Q:
Of course, humanity couldn’t just look. We had to enter. We had to touch and taste and take.
But the universe said no. (c)
Q:
You’re an anomaly the universe won’t allow, and she’ll send you back broken in half if she has to. (c) She? Now, that's unexpected for English.
Q:
He thinks if I study the figures and look for patterns the way analysts do, I’ll be valuable to the company for more than my mortality rate. (c)
Q:
Most of my deaths can be linked directly to my mother. (c)
Q:
“So look for me,” she says. “I’m only missing on a few hundred worlds, and this is just one more. I recommend Earth 83 me. She’s my favorite.” (c)
Q:
She needs my absence more than anything. A witness to the shame makes it worse, even if it’s a friend. (c)
Q:
THERE ARE INFINITE worlds. Worlds upon worlds into absurdity, which means there are probably worlds where I am a plant or a dolphin or where I never drew breath at all. But we can’t see those. (с)
Q:
There is something gratifying about going places where I’m dead and touching things I was never even meant to see. (c)
Q:
… deep down, I don’t want to fit in. I don’t want to look like I belong there, because one day I want to pretend I never did. (c)
Q:
… that’s what a sister is: a piece of yourself you can finally love, because it’s in someone else. (c)
Q:
growing up under the threat of starvation and homelessness means nothing will ever quite feel like pressure again. (c)
Q:
I dated a man a few years back who had never worn an untailored suit or cut his own hair, and who fell fast in love with my durability. He liked the way nothing shook me, not a house fire, not an approaching storm. The way he could count on me to never be afraid was its own aphrodisiac to an only son who’d been raised sheltered and fragile. I liked his fragility, how easily shocked he was, how he never thought to hide it. (c) Oh, wow! I love this take on the dysfunctional couples.
Q:
“There are three hundred and eighty worlds. You think I can have over sixty worlds studied by next week?”
“There are three hundred and eighty-two. Worlds that used to resonate but have gone silent are included on the test too.”
“I wasn’t even working when 382 went dark!”
“Then you’ll get to learn something new. Isn’t that exciting?”
“Riveting.” (c)
Q:
I’m the best in the universe at letting bad shit happen to me.” (c)
Q:
But secretly, I find the company progress meetings exciting. (c)
Ok, now I'm really scared of Caramenta or whoever she is!
Q:
Dell doesn’t quite meet my eyes as she readies me, just like everyone looked away from me in the hall. I’m Eldridge’s dead girl walking. (c) Huh.
Q:
What they don’t tell you about getting everything you ever wanted is the cold-sweat panic when you think about losing it (c)
Q:
You’d think someone who’d seen her own corpse would be smarter than that. (c)
Q:
I’ve been to worlds where plants kill, where people don’t wear color, where the sun sets too soon. I’ve seen the impossible, but nothing so impossible as this. (c)
Q:
… you can’t ever know another person. Which is why you should never admire anyone. (c)
Profile Image for Fran.
640 reviews587 followers
August 31, 2020
"Human beings are unknowable...Even if you hustle and make it in the rough, you have no idea if you would thrive or die in the light of real riches, if your cleverness would outlive your desperation". "In the Wiles, I pass for someone who has known stability and money her whole life. In Ashtown, I pass for someone who remembers how to pray and scrape. I am always wearing costumes but never just clothes".

Cara was a survivor, a product of the Rurals, the wasteland of Ashtown, a community outside the walls of the sheltered city of Wiley. The Wiley population was well fed, well clothed as compared to the often religious Ruralites who dressed in drab colorless garb. Life was a struggle. Dedication ceremonies honoring the warlord, NikNik, displaying gratitude and respect, were necessary for their very survival. Cara was NikNik's favorite girl. An opportunity arose...a chance at a new life...a reinvented version of herself... a traverser.

Adam Bosch, the founder of the Eldridge Institute had discovered a way to see into other universes, a way to retrieve intel from worlds with a slight frequency shift from that of Earth Zero. To collect this important data, "disposable people" were needed as traversers who were pulled from one world and forced into another for the purpose of data collection. Out of 380 compatible worlds, Cara was still alive on 8. She could only be sent to worlds where her doppelganger had died. "With the exception of some of the traversers, we are stunningly expendable". To survive means to strive for permanent citizenship in Wiley City. Having traversed more than any other Eldridge employee, she was well on her way to this goal.

Cara's "pulls" to different Earths were managed by her handler, Dell. Dell and Cara used wit and/or sarcasm in their communiques. Dell was a product of privilege. She lived in a high tower on the 80th floor. Cara's dwelling was below, on the 30th floor, where no sun was visible. Dell was dressed to the nines, Cara was simply attired. Tensions developed...feelings...unfulfilled desires.

"Every traverser has a more experienced mentor...I get the honor of having Jean Sanogo..." Papa Jean encouraged Cara to better herself by becoming an analyst... study world stats and company internal textbooks...stop traversing!

Cara's younger sibling Esther lived in Ashtown in the Rurals, an area all about "charity, piety and religion". Esther was warm and generous, all that was good. Could she become ruthless?

Filling out the main characters was NikNik, the warlord, son of a brutal emperor. "[NikNik] knows what it feels like when a powerful man takes the person you care about most in the world away...".

Seemingly, "The Space Between Worlds" by Micaiah Johnson is about multiverse collection for gain by Eldridge Industries, a soft sci-fi romp into the world of power and greed, however, it is so much more. This well written depiction of world building is a commentary on the lives of desert wasteland dwellers, inhabitants living outside the walled city of Wiley, a city of high towers and vibrant color as compared and contrasted with the colorless, gray shacks and huts with so called expendible people, often policed by runners. (enforcers of the elite). Micaiah Johnson's understated writing style describes the journey of a woman traversing the multiverse. A joy to behold. Highly recommended.

Thank you Random House Publishing-Ballantine, Del Rey and Net Galley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Harrow.
313 reviews39 followers
August 8, 2020
"That’s me and Dell. We coexist, parallel but never touching, and if one of us goes too far, if I ever get too close, the Eridanus Void opens between us. We both withdraw and leave a cold darkness in the space where we almost touched that three suns couldn’t light."

This is one of the best sci-fi books I've ever read. Not only the premise is executed brilliantly with mind boggling plot twist but the book is so fast paced that I was completely immersed. The world building is fantastic, fresh and original. The characters are interesting and well fleshed out. The main character Cara is impossible not to love. I had the urge to hug her at least a dozen times.

"This is what it’s like to love Dell. She’s unattainably bright. It makes me want to touch her even if it takes my fingertips, to see her, even if I’ll see nothing after."

Romance is more of a sub-plot but the slowburn is very sweet and the most precious thing in this dark dystopia.


Reasons to read this book:

- multiverse travel
- doppelgängers
- shocking and unexpected plot twists
- sapphic yearning
- social commentary on today's society
- Did I mention the twists?
Profile Image for Mary Robinette Kowal.
Author 236 books4,807 followers
November 7, 2021
Oh, my heart. I've just finished The Space Between Worlds and it is not often that I finish a book and think "that ending was perfect" but it was for me. The premise of the book sounds straightforward and inevitable. Travel between multiverses is popular. Earth One is only slightly different from Earth Zero while Earth 255 is very different. So far, fairly standard. If a version of you exists in that world, the other can't enter.

Which means that the most valuable traversers are the ones most likely to have died young. The people who live on the margins.

From that premise, The Space Between Worlds delivers a twisty story that always bends away from conventional plots and leads you down paths that you don't expect. I cannot wait to see what she writes next.
Profile Image for Olivia-Savannah .
717 reviews479 followers
December 3, 2020
I really wanted to love this, but unfortunately I really didn't.

I was so happy that we have a bisexual Black main character, and an f/f romance in the story! And the casual inclusion of enby characters made me smile too.

I also really liked the concept that the story had going for it, with the multiverses and the interesting job ranking in the world - it really emphasised capitalism and how awful it can be. I liked that it was immigrants who were actually fuelling the work space, but were undervalued.

So I liked all of the ideas... but felt like it really fell on the execution.

It opens with a lot of info dumping in the first chapter... and then the story was simply too internal. There were moments where interesting dialogue could have happened, but the author chose to summarise them and tell us about them rather than showing it to us, and it made me feel so distanced from what was happening.

I felt like her romantic feelings were really ungrounded, and there was no chemistry between her and Dell, which led me to not loving the romance at all.

Mostly I was not really convinced by her motivations for everything. And everything happened and unfolded so conveniently, that I didn't feel like there was any suspense at all. I was quite bored. The way the storylines and characters were introduced also left me feeling like there were separate disjointed storylines. If things were gradually introduced in a different way I think it could have added to the complexity of the plot rather than it being in phases that felt loose and unexciting :/

I also felt like our main character was rather flat. I couldn't grasp much of her personality at all. Mostly she seemed to exist only for the greater good of people as a whole, or bounced off whatever event was happening to her rather than having her own, individual personality.

Yeah, it just wasn't one for me :(
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,976 followers
November 7, 2020
I'm of two minds on this book. I want to heap a ton of praise on it for being an amusing multi-universal tale that reminds me of the DC universe and Sliders in how many Earths there are, but that's old-school stuff.

I then want to heap praise on it for keeping so much focus on the same sets of characters that our main character has always been interacting with, showing a lot of subtlety and flexibility with the greater tale. But then, there's a lot of that in multi-universal novels, too. Or any novel. This still does a fine job that remains interesting to the end.

So that leaves me with the worldbuilding. The focus on the very rich walled society right next to the very poor and violent society, with all its subtle variations across the multiverse, is a good trope. We're focused on the disadvantages and the inequality and the casual (or not so casual) violence. On its surface and quite far below it, it makes the total novel a pretty rock-solid tale rife with many, many plot reversals and subtle changes.

If I stop here, it's a very decent read. If I don't think about the elephant in the room, it's a great read.

So what's the elephant?

Many-universe theory, as explored here, has infinite variations. Indeed, it goes from the very tiny to the extremely large differences. So why are we stuck in the mid-300's in this tale? Is the limitation needed to keep the novel focused? Apparently. And probably necessary. The alternative is a wide-open tale that can solve the inequality issue, in theory, because there never would have been a need for a single inventor to keep all his secrets THAT close to his chest. We'd be fine with an exponential explosion because there would still be an infinite number of worlds. And then there was the whole question about the rest of THIS single world. All we got to see or hear about was the single city. That was a private universe to itself. So... where is the rest of the complexity? Is it all really just a microcosm after all?

Let's not ask such questions, tho. Let's enjoy the ride for what it is. :)
Profile Image for Starlah.
393 reviews1,600 followers
December 24, 2020
this book has a character names Starla (that's my name without the H). that's not part of my review, just the first time i've ever seen my name in a book!
Profile Image for Théo M. (bookswiththeo).
260 reviews55 followers
June 22, 2020
Umm I’m really disappointed.

The bones were amazing but the conflict was half-baked and I felt like the “villain” was severely under-developed.

The world-building was messy and was very hard to follow. The multiverse had only a few rules and they were really all thrown to the wind.

The lack of description made it really hard to understand what the world looked like? Because of this I constantly felt lost.

Cara was actually quite likeable but I wasn’t convinced that she knew what she wanted, and because of this her character arc felt a bit disconnected from the plot.

The story was character driven which I did like.

The multiverses were almost identical and it didn’t feel as immersive as the multiple universes of “Recursion” by Blake Crouch.

This book felt like an unedited first draft to me, it wasn’t clear whether the author knew where the story was going or not.

The narrator’s voice also sounded very young when she was actually an adult. It did feel a bit immature.

What annoyed me was that the style was abrupt, at times there would be paragraphs where author used more descriptive language and I began to feel engaged with the environment a bit more. But then all of a sudden the voice changed and it became feeling robotic with little to no description at all.

The characters had so much potential, and I was so looking forward to reading it. Everything fell very flat around the middle and then picked up again at the end and felt rushed all of a sudden. The ending was so anticlimactic to top it all off.

I will give a listen to the audiobook once the book is published to see what edits might have changed between now and its release, but I’m really upset because I had such high hopes for this one!
Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
841 reviews3,774 followers
February 15, 2021
Ahhhh, here comes my favourite sci-fi brand : doesn't bore me to tears with heavy scientific details/very specific references only people way higher than me in the nerd society can get, with compelling characters who just want to belong somewhere, is that too much to ask?, that questions capitalism and power dynamics on Earth, with a very very soft touch of romance.

I don't think I'll ever fall truly in love with science-fiction, but with The Space Between Worlds I've come very close, so if that's okay with you, I'll savour this victory.

For more of my reviews, please visit:
Profile Image for Sonja Arlow.
1,080 reviews7 followers
December 22, 2020

If you love sci-fi and dystopian novels then set a reminder for 04 August because you are going to want to get this book. The story has a distinct Mad Max flavour to it, and I had to force myself to not finish it in one day.

This is a world where multiverse travel is common knowledge. A total of 382 parallel earths have been documented but traversing between worlds is a little like playing Russian roulette, every time you travel could be the one that kills you.

If you land on an earth where you are still alive the universe turns you inside out, leaving a bloody heap where you used to be.

So, who then would make the ideal traveler?

Those people who normally do not have a high life expectancy, the grunts, the poor, the ones too small to hide from the runners, the ones who have drug addicted mothers that forget to feed their children.

Enter our protagonist, Cara who is one of the most prized traversers as she has died in all worlds but 8. I loved her character as she was perfectly flawed and complex. Even the secondary characters like Ester, Nik Nik and Dell were fascinating.

There is a lot more nuance than what is the norm for this genre. The pace is fast, and you need to keep up as the story will not wait for you to catchup.

A highly satisfying read I can recommend without reservation.

I cannot wait to read more from this author.

Netgalley ARC: Expected Publish Date 04 August 2020.
Profile Image for Fiona.
1,221 reviews225 followers
January 19, 2022
Ok, I'm legitimately mad that goodreads has - lost? deleted? who knows? - this review. I LOVED this book and pulled together a bunch of words that somehow made sense in describing why it was so great.

Time to back up, but believe me when I say this book is fantastic. Full review to come - again - if I get over how pissed I am at some point.
Profile Image for NAT.orious reads ☾.
849 reviews340 followers
December 14, 2020
This book is for you if… your own imagination and creativity can make up for a lack of things-that-are-spelled-out-explicitly.

Overall.
In the beginning, I was pretty excited to return to The Space Between Worlds after each break. The world this is set in is exciting, diverse, dystopian and full of adventures. I loved how rich in contrasts Micaiah's work. Although entirely futuristic, it still reminds so much of the classist reality we are living in now.

Sadly, I dearly missed two essential things: a proper conflict as well as a decently fleshed-out villain. There was no clear challenge obvious until like the last 20%. The villain in the story was equally misty in my mind. Altogether, this definitely damaged the arc of suspense to a degree that sometimes made this book feel more like work than fun.

What’s happening.
‘Why have I survived? Because I am a creature more devious than all the other mes put together. Because I saw myself bleeding out and instead of checking for a pulse, I began collecting her things. I survive the desert like a coyote survives, like all tricksters do.’

spoiler alert: She's not giving herself enough credit.
_____________________
3 STARS. Decent read that I have neither strongly positive nor negative feelings about. Some things irked me and thus it does not qualify as exceptional.
Profile Image for Lana Reads.
447 reviews173 followers
January 17, 2021
4,5 stars

I loved this book, even in all it's imperfectness. The slow getting into the story, the partial revealing of the information and the getting to know the characters made me want to read more.

...human beings are unknowable. You can never know a single person fully, not even yourself. Even if you think you know yourself in your safe glass castle, you don't know yourself in the dirt. Even if you hustle and make it in the rough, you have no idea if you would thrive or die in the light of real riches, if your cleverness would outlive your desperation.

I'd say it was more a philosophical exploration of human nature than just a sci-fi as the technical side of the travel between worlds was very vague. I liked the heroine, and her relationship with her sister made my heart melt. There was a little bit of heartbreaking romance, which I liked, even though it was very chaste.
I also really appreciated the gender progressiveness/neutrality and complete inclusivity; which is of course not new for modern sci-fi, but made me happy nevertheless.

The ending left a lot of questions unanswered; and the ones answered were kind of anticlimactic - which was a bit of a letdown, as the buildup was pretty great. But I guess one can't have it all with a debut novel.

All in all, it was brutal, yet beautiful and I'm definitely going to read more by the author.
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,401 reviews11.7k followers
March 24, 2021
A big multiverse fan here.

I think the concept is pretty cool, especially in how effectively it ties race and class to multiverse travel. In The Space Between Worlds, you can only travel to a world where your counterpart is dead, so basically exclusively people who happen to have been born in places/families at risk and manage to survive against all odds are recruited to be traversers (multiverse travelers). Cara's counterparts are dead on 372 worlds due to neglect, gang violence, etc., which makes her a perfect traverser.

I liked many elements of the story - the ones that always draw me in - how nature and nurture and circumstances can change a person's life path. But a lot of potential here was left unexplored. The novel is too long for what it is. It doesn't quite work structurally - there are some good twists, but no big climax. The villain never materialized as a major force. The story left me wanting.

All in all, this could be a basis for a SF TV show. It's a decent setup, and experienced writers could pick up some good stuff that'd been left on the table by Micaiah Johnson.
Profile Image for charlotte,.
3,132 reviews820 followers
May 14, 2020
“Luck, I guess,” I say, because the first thing a monster learns is when to lie.


On my blog.

Rep: Black bi mc, Japanese wlw li, Black side characters, nonbinary side characters

CWs: past abuse, gore, violence

Galley provided by publisher

Sometimes books will leave you with a lot to think about, and I mean a lot. The Space Between Worlds is that for me (it has been at least two weeks – at time of writing – of just thinking). I have many many thoughts about parallel universes and how they help the main character deal with her trauma and all that, but no words for them (not for nothing did I quit English Lit at the age of 16). So, bear with me if everything goes a bit rambling.

The Space Between Worlds is set in a semi-dystopia, semi-science fiction world, where there is a class divide between Wiley City, where all the rich people live, and Ashtown, a Mad Max Fury Road-esque place, run by its own quasi-emperor, Nik Nik. In Wiley City, Adam Bosch is king, running a business that sends people into the multiverse. The only catch? You cannot travel to a world in which your parallel self is alive.

All this brings me to my first point. I absolutely loved the worldbuilding. Firstly, the whole doppelgangers and parallel universes take in this was so cool as a setup. The way traversers are more valuable the more of them that have died, the idea that there can’t be two of you in one universe. It’s just so cool, I don’t know how else to describe it.

And then you get Cara, who’s dead in every known universe except eight. I loved Cara a whole lot (though I can’t really say much about her because that’s spoilers – you’ll see if you read it!). When one of Cara’s doppelgangers dies in mysterious circumstances, that’s when things start to get fascinating. I mean, the whole thing had me utterly gripped from the first page, but a good chunk of it to start with involves setting up the world. But when events start to happen, boy do they get going.

But perhaps my favourite thing about this book is its social commentary. What is science fiction (or fantasy for that matter) without some social commentary, really? Everything about the book makes you think and that’s the best thing here. I mean, I love books where I can just get lost as much as the next person, but the sheer power of books that make you think? Unmatched.

And then (finally) there’s the romance. There is no way I can describe the immense angst of the misunderstanding that scuppered their initial attempts without spoiling the book, but it is so good (in terms of angst, that is). And then their scenes at the end! I don’t think I’ve stopped yelling since I finished the book.

So, with all that, I think it’s clear just how much I loved this book (and am still thinking about it). Which means it’s also clear that you really really need to preorder this one.
Profile Image for Althea ☾.
623 reviews1,953 followers
February 12, 2021
“someone found me and thought that I was worth something.”


the execution wasn't for me but I appreciated the themes it wanted to discuss and I think Micaiah Johnson made some smart moves. I think that the synopsis built it up too much.

— overall thoughts: 2.5 —
content warnings//
representation: Black main and side characters, Japanese main character, wlw main character, Non-binary side characters

It was hard for me to visualize descriptions and care about the plot since it did not feel as high stakes as it should've been. This might be the first time I did not fall in love with a book about parallel worlds and it makes me really sad. It was hard to care about the conflict of them just taking down this dictator person.

It ended on a hopeful note albeit a little anti-climactic.

The plot revolves around Cara who essentially can travel between worlds that are similar to ours. What makes her a huge asset is because you can only travel to a world where you are dead or else you’re the one who’s probably going to end up dying… and she has died in almost all of these worlds. I have to admit that the themes that the book wanted to talk about were very evident and I see how it could’ve been a really emotional story for a lot of people.

“I don’t think she’ll miss me, that’s too limited a way of thinking. But she makes me feel like she’s noticed me and I’m grateful for that too.”



Themes on racism, prejudice, and how simple opportunity can affect the direction of one’s life (specifically people of color), were actively discussed and I liked how it was placed into a sci-fi setting. The way that Johnson related how abuse and ignorance as the reasons that ultimately lead to her hundreds of death in all these worlds made for a lot of intrigue (that wasn’t a spoiler).

Unfortunately, the synopsis was more intriguing than the actual book. I’m really disappointed because the execution wasn't as emotional and as gripping as it should've been for me. It felt like I was watching everything happen from a glass case where no emotions could penetrate. I felt detached from the plot, the antagonist, the conflict, basically everything that was supposed to make it exciting. It lost me around the 30-50% mark. A huge part of the plot is our main character world jumping and even though it was interesting to see, I don’t know if it did much for the plot? Or maybe that was when it lost me. If only the plot matched the level of intrigue that synopsis set up.

There are definitely complicated characters if that's what you're looking for. There were a lot of times I was really close to getting attached to Cara and Del… but it just never sunk in for me. It was an interesting perspective to see this dystopia world from Cara's point of view, it brought up a lot of good discussions.

“The universe erases me, but it also remakes me again and again, so there must be something worthwhile in this image. ”


I have no other criticism aside from I wasn't emotionally attached at all. But if you end up falling in love with the characters, you might fall in love with this book.

This did not speak to me personally but I know it did for a lot of people and I definitely see why. I just had a hard time caring about whatever the conflict was inflicting. If Micaiah Johnson comes out with more books in the future, I’m still going to be picking it up because of the themes and how she chooses to represent them alone. ↢
Profile Image for Book of the Month.
229 reviews12.6k followers
Read
August 17, 2020
Why I love it
by Carla Bruce-Eddings

This pandemic and the requisite quarantine have compelled me to do a lot of soul searching, and I know I’m not the only one. And is there any better way to combat daily existential despair and perpetual grief, than by sinking your teeth into a world that is not your own? This is what The Space Between Worlds offers: a way out, and a breathtaking, heart-pounding way in.

Cara is a traverser, someone who can travel between the multiverses. The catch? One can only step foot onto another world if their resident counterpart has already died, making her a natural prodigy, given her particular talent for dying on hundreds of other worlds. Charged with braving the terrifying void that separates each world from the next, Cara collects crucial data to share with her employer, attempting to forge a meaningful life for herself—which, for someone from the wastelands, mostly means just staying alive. When one of her few remaining doppelgängers suffers an unexplainable death, Cara finds herself enmeshed in an even stranger new world brimming with dangerous secrets.

This book is just so incredibly rich: layer upon layer of intricate worldbuilding that envelops you from page one. It’s an ideal read for sci-fi lovers, especially those who like their stories with a generous helping of angst-ridden love affairs (Cara’s connection to Dell, her beautiful yet emotionally distant handler, was one of my favorite aspects of this thrilling story). Choices, consequences, the rippling effects thereof: Who is to say what sets certain events into motion, making us the particular selves that we are? In The Space Between Worlds, Micaiah Johnson makes an unforgettable case for the glorious multiplicity of this fickle thing we call reality. I didn’t want to leave these worlds.

Read more at: https://bookofthemonth.com/the-space-...
325 reviews68 followers
August 4, 2020
Edit: Happy release day! August 4th 2020

eARC provided by NetGalley , thank you to NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton. All opinions are my own.

Addictive, page-turning science fiction, fierce, strange and filled with surprizes; I could not get to the end of it quicker.

THIS BOOK HAS LEFT ME SPACED OUT, IN A GOOD WAY

description

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson (spoiler free reviews!)
Standalone
Publish Date: August 4th 2020
Cover Rating: 7/10
Adult –Science Fiction –Fiction – LGBT


SUMMARY IN A SENTENCE, OKAY TWO:
The multiverse has been discovered: dead in 382 of them, Cara can travel to all those realities except the ones on which she is alive, it’s just her job, collecting data from each. When one of her doppelgangers is murdered, Cara is discovers a plot that endangers not only her world but the entire multiverse.

WHAT WAS THIS READING EXPERIENCE LIKE?
I have shied away from Science Fiction for a while (when it gets to space opera-y Im bloody gone) and to be honest, I have not read a gripping Sci-Fi in years. This book was flipping amazing. I am still in shock at how good it was! I LIKE EVERYTHING ABOUT IT!

The weirdest thing is I almost did not request it. I saw someone else’s review and I was very unsure. I am so so glad I decide to read this. It’s one of the best sci-fi books I have read and for those of us (like me) that don’t like that in-depth hard-core science fiction – it’s perfect.

Right from the start, the main protagonist Cara was a cheeky asshole and I loved her. So relatable and one of the best characters I have ever come across. Actually, all of the characters and dialogue was spot on. The world building could have been more thoroughly hashed out in places but I loved the world and the people. Each description hit the mark and there was no “flowery” language, the author delivers each chapter perfectly. And the ending was good, better than I expected.

THE FINAL JUDGEMENT:
A brilliant debut, I am going to urge everyone to at least give this book a try. Hard core science fiction aficionados might think it was very light, so be warned. But seriously: This author is going to be making waves – mark my words. Please Micaiah, write a fantasy next?!
Rating: 4.5
Profile Image for frau.gedankenreich.
218 reviews71 followers
October 12, 2021
Micaiah Johnson spielt in "Erde 0" die Idee eines Multiversums durch, indem es mehrere Versionen ihrer Charaktere gibt, deren Leben aufgrund unterschiedlicher Entscheidungen und Taten einen jeweils anderen Verlauf genommen haben.
Wir begleiten Cara, eine junge, farbige "Traverserin", die schwer am Leben zu tragen hat und deren Job es ist, zwischen den verschiedenen Parallelwelten zu reisen um dort bestimmte Daten abzufragen. Dabei trifft sie auf ebendiese unterschiedlichen Versionen und muss sich schon bald fragen, wie gut sie die Menschen aus ihrer Welt eigentlich kennt und welche Abgründe sie selbst in sich trägt.

Micaiah Johnson ist eine großartige Autorin. Nicht nur hat sie mit Cara einen für mich vom ersten Moment an nachvollziehbaren Charakter erschaffen, auch der Weltenaufbau ist so gut ausgearbeitet, dass es sich absolut natürlich angefühlt hat, den Weg mit Cara zu gehen.
Wie bei jeder fiktionalen Geschichte die in einer zukünftigen Welt verortet ist, haben sich auch hier Menschen in Gesellschaftsstrukturen eingeordnet, die zwar anders aber eben nicht völlig fremd sind und es finden sich auch kritische Gedanken zu realen Ereignissen in dem Buch wieder, sodass es mir sehr leicht fiel, mich hineinzudenken und mitreißen zu lassen.
Man merkt, dass hinter dem Buch ein kluger Freigeist steckt, der mit offenen Armen und Augen durch die Welt geht, sich und andere hinterfragt und Verletzungen mit sich herumschleppt. Johnsons Schreibstil lässt sich irgendwo zwischen messerscharf und butterweich einordnen, dringt tief ein und hinterlässt einen bleibenden Eindruck.
Das Thema Parallelwelten bietet einige Überraschungen und sorgt dafür, dass das Buch bis zum Ende hin spannend und unvorhersehbar bleibt. Es gab einige Twists mit denen ich so nicht gerechnet habe. Eine beeindruckende Lektüre.

"Erde 0" ist ein Buch was heraussticht und sicherlich nicht jedem gefallen wird, zumal es einen harten Unterton hat und körperliche Gewalt, Bisexualität bzw. Geschlechtsidentität, verschiedene Traumata und Missbrauch thematisiert. Wer sich davon nicht abschrecken lässt und Lust auf ein besonderes, innovatives und intensives Leseerlebnis hat, der sollte sich das Buch unbedingt näher anschauen. Eine uneingeschränkte Leseempfehlung kann ich allerdings nicht aussprechen.
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