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Each Little Universe

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If Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett had written an earnestly nerdy story in a setting running on the ridiculous logic of Scott Pilgrim, it might have come out something like this.

For two oddball inventors, taking care of an unexpected new arrival - a girl from the stars - is hard enough. Dealing with the things that want her back may turn out to be harder.

A story about love in all its forms (but not a love story), Each Little Universe wonders with wit and insight about what it means to be human in a vast, peculiar cosmos. A celebration of all that is wonderful and strange about people, each member of its cast of twenty-first century weirdos is both larger than life and peculiarly familiar.

Fans of Neil Gaiman (Neverwhere, American Gods), Bryan Lee O'Malley (Scott Pilgrim, Seconds), and Haruki Murakami (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Killing Commendatore) will love this story, set in a world very much like our own but a little more strange, and the unusual take it offers on life, the human experience, and cats.

357 pages, Kindle Edition

Published April 30, 2020

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About the author

Chris Durston

17 books27 followers
'Chris Durston refuses to be dull ... He doesn't see the point of writing a story if he can't take full advantage of the medium and do things within that medium that can't be done in any other.'

From Devon, in the South West of England, Chris Durston has always wanted to be a writer and only just got around to doing anything about it. Each Little Universe is his debut novel, initially conceived while studying English literature and philosophy at Cardiff University and finally published five years later.

In addition to being a new author, he is the host of Philosophiraga, a podcast about video games and philosophy.

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5 stars
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14 (32%)
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6 (13%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 31 reviews
Profile Image for C..
Author 21 books401 followers
February 17, 2022
DISCLOSURE: I wrote this review BEFORE my publishing company, Skullgate Media, decided to re-issue it. Currently we do, but the review as written before we had a vested interest in its success.

The bottom line is I LOVED this book. I'm pretty stingy with my five-stars, but this one earned every one (and not just because the book is filled with actual celestial bodies). It's not often that I have no idea where a story is headed and yet still find myself compelled to keep reading, but somehow the first half of this book did just that. Part 1 is relatively light on "plot," but the characters and their interactions are so wonderful and well written that I was happy to just bask in their relationships. And then the half-way point hits you, and the second half barrels towards a conclusion that manages to be both startling but inevitable--all the random bits and bobs that seemed like random fun come together in a manner that's both startling and moving. I don't want to say too much about it, as the less you know going in the better, but there's magical realism, professional wrestling, D&D, heists, mad-cap adventures, and friendships that you won't soon forget.
Profile Image for Jayme Bean.
Author 5 books64 followers
January 11, 2022
This book was the quirky, fun, and cerebral read I needed. Durston does an incredible job at presenting big questions and themes while providing a nerdy and silly sandbox to ask them in. Each Little Universe is, at heart, a story of discovering where you fit in the puzzle that is the universe and how we all are strangely and serendipitously there together. It’s less plot-based and more being a fly on the wall to the curious happenstances of the main cast of characters. After finding a girl who has come from the stars (akin to STARDUST), who is marvelously David Bowie-esque in appearance, our dynamic duo Veggie and TM set about to…well, continue on the merry way but with an extraterrestrial in tow. The humor is delightfully British and pun-tastic. I appreciate how the characters acknowledge their own silliness, and it reminded me a lot of how I am with my friends when we’re goofing around and being ourselves while battling real life dilemmas. It’s not ALL fun and games, though. When they realize the consequences of a life from the stars taking a vacation to Earth, things ramp up into a non-stop adventure. Overall, it is a marvelous story on friendship, philosophy, video games, and life itself. It’s a relaxing read, where you can just sit and enjoy being along for the ride without having to worry about complexities and subplots. I definitely recommend this if you enjoy British humor and tone, nerd culture, or merely reading for the pleasure of the act itself.
Profile Image for Rory Michaelson.
Author 5 books74 followers
June 18, 2021
EACH LITTLE UNIVERSE is a quirky, refreshing story full of British whimsy.
When a couple of oddball, probably malnourished, definitely struggling inventors meet a suspiciously Bowie-esque extra-terrestrial, adventures ensue. What follows is part fish out of water sci-fi adventure and part irreverent slice of life comedy, and full enjoyable read. The story is full of personality, and whether we're joining the characters in a game of D&D, or averting disaster, sharp dialogue and clear characterisation provides an insightful, fun, and almost-miss-your-tube-stop addictive book. Things hot up when the trio go on a quest for a MacGuffin, propelling the daily delights into a high stakes adventure, making it impossible to put down this story.
Overall, this is a great read - particularly recommended if a combination of STARDUST x HOT FUZZ x HITCHIKERS GUIDE sounds up your alley!
Profile Image for Rebecca Crunden.
Author 16 books444 followers
September 20, 2021
How do you cheer up a star?

I hear girl from the stars and I immediately think Stardust.

Each Little Universe is my first book by Chris Durston, who puts an original spin on the girl from the stars angle in this lovely debut. This book is filled with great quotes, but I'll just post a few favourites:

So many people were part of his little universe - some still in his orbit, some sailed off elsewhere, and some gone entirely, but all still carried on in some way by the sheer fact that he was still there.

The dialogue and discourse reminded me of novels like Franny and Zooey (or like the movie Before Sunrise), with characters contemplating life with each other, asking big questions.

Fear of the unknown might be the most human of feelings.

Blog | Twitter
Profile Image for Chris Durston.
Author 17 books27 followers
July 12, 2020
‘Ello. Author ‘ere. Thought I’d tell you a little bit about what you can expect from this book, since I think how you go into it might make a difference to how you enjoy it.

It’s not exactly a tightly-woven masterpiece of pacing and neat plotting. It’s a slightly odd slice-of-life urban fantasy in which a lot of time is spent hanging out with a bunch of slightly odd people who love each other very much and get into big philosophical questions via talking about pop culture: video games, pro wrestling, new media, role-playing games (there’s a reasonably extensive campaign, which probably won’t be for everyone), and occasionally rock music.

If you like being a bit of a nerd, if you like hanging out with people who talk like people who are kind of way too immersed in internet culture, if you like thinking about big important things in dumb ways (or being dumb and kind of disguising it as deep and important, could be either), then this might well be for you. It’s about each person finding a place for themselves in a big, strange cosmos; it’s about the uniqueness of every one of us, so unfathomably bizarre that we could exist at all; it’s about a lot of really bad puns and a few big cosmic forces; it’s about making a meaning for your unlikely existence even when it doesn’t seem like there is one.

Thanks for checking it out!
Profile Image for Victoria Sigsworth.
179 reviews1 follower
August 28, 2020
This book is very different to those I usually read. Why did I read this? Well I have to be honest and say my son has an acknowledgement in it and I heard a lot about it obviously. Also getting to read debut novels is not something I do very often.
I was going to include a review of the plot but as there are already several reviews which do this and I usually don't, I won't.
When I first started to read this book, I felt an instant warmth to it as the conversation between Veggie and TM read and sounded in my head, like my son and his best friend having a conversation. I never imagined I would ever find this in a novel. The writing style is very modern but very easy to read.
The plot is, for me, an unusual one but is very well constructed. The relationships between the main characters are established early on which is great because the reader is then just able to get on with what is happening. The story is moved on by an interesting and original idea of the characters playing a table top role playing game to decide what to do next with an issue. For myself I sometimes found this difficult to follow so really had to concentrate but the reader is helped in this because of the use of a different font. There is also a section where another character appears and for a while I couldn't decide if this person was imaginary or otherwise. Whether this is deliberate by the author or just me, I am not sure.
The use of words by this author is also unique. I actually thought a word written was made up but having looked it up I discovered otherwise. This was an aspect of the novel I particularly enjoyed.
I always say there is always something you can learn even from fiction and this is true of this book. Chapter 27, Oddity spoke to me and was quite comforting. Speaking of chapters many of them make reference to David Bowie lyrics and this is another clue to one of the characters. The characters cannot necessarily all be said to be realistic and this is due to some of them being ethereal, without giving anything away. However, Chris cleverly ticks several diversity boxes. I don't know whether this has been written with the hope of it becoming a TV series but if it did, it would certainly make a good one.
The other thing I liked about this novel is that it is not at all predictable and I was invested enough in the story to feel sad about certain events happening to certain characters.
This is a very good debut novel from this author and I hope to read more in the future.
Profile Image for Sarah Bell.
Author 3 books28 followers
August 22, 2021
Fun surreal story

This story managed to be both utterly domestic and utterly surreal at the same time, and I mean that in the best possible way.

This was a fun ride, packed with jokes, nerdy references, satire and little moments that make you think. The middle perhaps dragged a little bit, but that might have just been me getting slightly lost by discussions of things I have little interest/ knowledge of (looking at you wrestling!)

I really enjoyed the characters, both the MCs and their friends, and, of course, Ziggy. The story takes the time to let the reader know them and their lives and interests.

I also loved the chapter titles! (I'm a sucker for a good punny chapter title!)

Overall, an interesting read that both give me food for thought and made me laugh.

Overall, a fun
Profile Image for Alexander.
30 reviews
July 13, 2020
(An audio version of this review can be heard here: https://youtu.be/cPqrMSDfD0s)

There’s a line in Each Little Universe in which a character asks "Are you actually squeeing over the band of a guy we hang out with, like, every day?" That’s me being able to read this.

This review was written from reading an advanced copy - I’ve never reviewed an advance copy before but I’d like to thank the author, Chris Durston, for the opportunity. Although I’d have probably never read this book if I weren’t, being able to call him a good friend of mine inevitably means this review is biased. I’m always honest in my reviews and writing this one truthfully would be impossible without acknowledging this fact. So, rather than writing a “review”, allow me to, instead, simply recommend my friend’s book to you.

Reading someone’s first book is like the moment you first see them naked before finding out what they’re like in bed - only then you can you really say you know them. At risk of making that analogy even worse, I have to say, I’m completely satisfied.

“For two oddball inventors, taking care of an unexpected new arrival - a girl from the stars - is hard enough. Dealing with the things that want her back may turn out to be harder.”

Now, I know what you might be thinking: "That sounds like a very slight variant on an angle that must have been done, like, a billion times". It probably is but what made Each Little Universe so satisfying is that I could hear Chris reading it to me because he’s written it completely in his own voice. Everything I expected a book written by him to include is included: characters poorly explaining philosophy because they can’t fully comprehend it and the use of invented words that sound as though they could be real.

It’s as though he challenged himself to write a book based entirely on the way he likes constructing compound portmanteaus similar to German compound nouns. He doesn’t see the point of writing a story if he can’t take full advantage of the medium and do things within that medium that can’t be done in any other.

For example, there’s the way one character is able to actually say “...” in dialogue and another comments about one such improvised word he says not being underlined by his spell check.

Of particular note is an oft-mentioned, unseen character who’s eventually introduced by email; their purple prose (which can challenge my own) is so pretentious and pseudo-intellectual that I immediately understood why they’re so disliked.

Cynics might describe this idiolect as avoiding the challenge of using “proper” English or being “gimmicky” and that may be true but it’s not at the expense of the characters; they’re each gimmicky in a unique way that personally identifies them and their relationships are not only compelling but accurate to the lifestyles of 20-somethings today, with much fewer hang-ups than their predecessors. It’s consistent with one of the main themes of the book - that being that people are inherently strange and larger-than-life.

Chris refuses to be dull. I’ve no time for boring people. In my experience, there are only people who are awake and those who are not - the awakened can see the excitement in the world while everyone else operates on autopilot, barely aware of their own sentience. This is never explicitly stated but it’s something I connected to the central concept of the story: Star Power.

It’s like the Force but, rather than empowering combat, empowers creativity. Those who possess Star Power are able to make even the most impossible ideas become reality. Yes, that’s a theme found almost exclusively in sugarcoated trite but the difference here is that it’s a tangible concept with internally-consistent rules - and it’s an analogy for how the author sees the Universe. Is that not what every good book is? Those of us who possess Star Power engage with the world on a much deeper level than others. It takes a lot of such Star Power to write a book like this - but only those who possess it are able to make it happen.
Profile Image for Solarayo.
3 reviews
April 30, 2020
Full review available on my website: http://aceasunder.com

It’s indescribably awesome how we just gravitate toward certain people, click with them, and grow close bonds of true friendship with them, eh? Each Little Universe certainly captures that befriending magic right out of the gate and evolves those connections into something wonderfully cosmic. There are many more forms of love than just the often written about sexual kind, and I love how all forms of love get some… er, love in this story.

The main characters, slacker entrepreneur duo TM and Veggie and literal fallen star Ziggy, click in the first chapter and form a beautiful 3-way BFF-ship that becomes the center of this story’s deep universe. And oh man, the trio’s daily lives are anything but normal. But would you really expect normality when one of the people is actually a star (like, the ball of gas in space type star)?

The lovable cast spends most of their time in a rubbish flat dreaming up useless yet innovative inventions, going on freaking cool tabletop RPG campaigns with their quirky crew (Serious points for including a non-binary and pansexual characters, by the way. Representation rocks!), playing parody real world video games (One called “Blackest Spirit’ made me grin like an idiot, I will not lie), and adoring punnily named cats. And those are just a few cool things they do to form those close bonds with each other.

I won’t go into many plot details for spoiler reasons, but I can best say the overall narrative is depressingly inspiring, often diving into the infinity of the universe paradox and other existential crisis fueling topics I personally love pondering. What is life anyway? The author offers a brilliant point that the true definition of life is something our puny brains might be incapable of comprehending.

The author’s writing style is full of fun meta-fourth-wall-breaking humor, superb sarcasm, and tons of glorious geek culture parodies and references. This is absolutely my type of humor so I found it incredibly entertaining to read every word, binge reading about 3/4 of the book in one sitting. Oh and for anyone unfamiliar with UK culture, be warned you’ll miss out on a few good jokes which is seriously unfortunate for you.

This is one of the most out-there-in-a-good-way stories I’ve ever had the honor of reading. I hope many more people get a chance to enjoy the cosmic craziness too! Looking forward to seeing more works from the author in the future.
Profile Image for Erica Warren.
211 reviews5 followers
July 22, 2020
This story is completely ridiculous and I loved it!

It's also utterly hilarious. I got such a profound sense of the author, Chris Durston's, personality because his quirky, unique voice really shines through the characters.

I think the biggest reason this strange book works so well is that it acknowledges its own ridiculousness. Every once in a while you see the characters come back to touch reality for a moment, and it's a bit sobering when that happens.

It's kind of tough to condense this book into a simple explanation for two reasons:

1. The plot is so wildly unpredictable. In terms of what could come next, nothing is off limits. It really is like riding the dumbest roller coaster ever and enjoying every minute of it.

2. While on the surface the characters seem to just float through life playing games and acting like buffoons, there's some really deep stuff happening underneath. A lot of weirdly philosophical thoughts pop up in random, seemingly vapid situations, making you consider those big metaphysical questions and how they relate to not only the characters but also to you. And at the heart of the story is a portrait of love and friendship so deep it makes your heart ache a little bit.

I felt like I knew the characters right from the start, yet my perception of them only grew as the story went on and they continued to surprise me. The dialogue is believable and realistically ungrammatical at times, like how people talk in real life. I love Durston's hilarious turn of phrase; he calls attention to and makes fun of the daily unnoticed stuff of life. I also appreciated that it was jam-packed with references to nerd culture, though I'm sure I missed out on some because I'm not a gamer. There were some other references I didn't quite get, mostly because I'm American and the story is written and set in England, but it didn't detract from the experience.

In summary, this book is just plain fun. You don't care about all the outlandish implausibilities while you're reading. You realize that they don't really matter and opt instead to just relax and enjoy a totally believable unbelievable story. You will laugh. A lot. And you might even cry.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
Profile Image for Luce.
53 reviews5 followers
August 21, 2021
There is no way I can write an "about this book" section, as there aren't the words to sum up what this is about. There are two inventors, cats, a bread heater that catches fire and using role-playing games to pull off a real heist. 

Oh and there's a star (one from the sky) who is a person. Like Stardust, but less white gowns and angelical and more gen z art student who is freaking adorable.

Whatever you do, do not read the blurb just so you can experience first hand the crazy magic coating the pages of this book. Chris has written something so spectacular that there isn't a single sentence that could be classed as basic or simple. It's as if Douglas Adams, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett sat down and played a "who could be the most strange" word game and wrote it all down: and I mean this in the best way. I was snorting with laughter by page 2.

These characters are not just random, they are kind, weird to the point of it being the norm (you'll get used to it), wordy (I had to Google some of the words used) and creative (whiteboard blankets just made playing noughts and crosses whilst having a sleepover easier). If anyone wants campaign ideas for DnD or other role-playing games then this will definitely provide you with a few. The creative detail is absolutely on point and I'd like a tour around Chris' mind just to see what other golden ideas he's got in there.

Unsurprisingly I kept expecting a dragon to just crash through the ceiling without anyone reacting.

The best part? The pure nostalgia. Reading about this awesome friendship group and how they act reminded me of holing up in hotel rooms at conventions and talking till 3am, or the time I had a sleepover in an attic and woke up with two of my friends stuck to me. These characters remind you to breathe, love and live and remember the true meaning of friendship. The fact there are nonbinary and LGBTQAI characters and absolutely no toxic masculinity just makes me feel all the warm fuzzies of a VERY happy reader.
Profile Image for Tony.
8 reviews
June 5, 2020
Each Little Universe is a light-hearted, delightful little romp around town with your geeky friends. Let me explain:

The story is basically about two guys who try to invent things for a living who meet a girl while walking down the street who claims to be a star; Not a celebrity, but an actual star who came down from the sky. The two bring her into their lives and their lot in life changes in many quirky and unexpected ways.

I began reading this right as the COVID-19 quarantine started making everyone a little more loopy and shut in. The book is not a literary masterpiece, but that’s why it was exactly what I needed. Some chapters were full of dialogue in true seemingly-aimless Tarantino fashion - sometimes philosophical debates on life, the universe and everything, and other times just playful banter about love and loss. Some may regard those chapters as not advancing the plot, but I disagree. This book is a philosophical love letter to all things we geeks know and love. You can certainly tell that Chris loves video games (there were lots of little inside jokes for gamers) and tabletop RPGs. Reading this book felt like hanging with the geeky friends I’ve always wanted, which was just the right formula for a quarantine read - though I’d certainly read it again once things have gone back to normal.

I think the afterward cinched my love of this book and the author as well. You can tell that Chris Durston is an everyman just like most of us, who managed to organize his thoughts and finally write a novel after many years of poking and prodding with a pencil...or keyboard, since we live in a digital age. That’s a step above many of us who wish we had the fortitude to sit and write our own novels, and it gives me hope that one day I may accomplish just that.

As long as you’re ready to suspend your disbelief and view the events and themes through an introspective lens, then you should certainly give this book a try. It’s an easy read that includes ample amounts of geek humor, philosophy, name puns, parkour, and tons of inventions and concepts that should be real in more than just our imagination.
Profile Image for Alice.
Author 35 books41 followers
January 24, 2022
If you met a being who claimed to be the earthly incarnation of an actual star, then immediately fixed your money problems for you, would you set out on a wild, world-changing quest with them or would you take them home and introduce them to D&D and pick n' mix? Most of us, let's be honest, would fall into the latter camp - just like TM and Veggie, the heroes of this novel.

The characters and their banter, the Bowie quotes and especially the presence of a cat called Michel Furcoat made this an enjoyable romp, though I wish there had been a little more action in the first part of the book rather than cramming it all into the later sections.
May 8, 2020
This wouldn't be the typical book I would go for but Chris manages to write a book that asks some big questions but in a fun and exciting way. The characters are each weird in their own way but are still characters you can easily relate to. I'm already looking forward to Chris's next release!
Profile Image for Denise.
6,358 reviews103 followers
October 20, 2020
This novel begins when two hapless inventors, not overly burdened with success, encounter a girl who is really a star, which is just as silly and absurd as it sounds. Just go with it. If you do, you'll find that Chris Durston turns this intriguing yet downright preposterous premise into a wildly entertaining ride replete with lighthearted geeky humour, casual diversity (oh, how I love the casual diversity!), and lovable quirky characters which every so often slips in moments of sincerity, tenderness and profound sadness. Beneath all the outrageous, colourful, sparkly fun stuff, this is really a heartfelt story of friendship, love, and being human. A wonderful and very promising debut.

*** I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review. ***
Profile Image for Siobhan Kelley.
2 reviews1 follower
June 7, 2020
An enjoyable light read with the blurb perfectly depicting the narrative without spoiling it. Perfect book to read during coronavirus and makes me miss gaming sessions with friends.
April 29, 2020
Initial Impression: Ziggy is either a homeless woman dressed as David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust and claiming to be an alien, or an alien. ... It’s a coin toss and I can’t wait to find out.

This review was written in exchange for an advance copy. I have since bought the Kindle and Physical Editions from Amazon because I enjoyed ELU so much.

Each Little Universe isn’t a capital-r Romance, but love is present in a New Adult flavor. It makes me kinda weepy, thinking about old friends. I'm not a genre person but I understand other readers are. I'd say it fits snugly into Modern Fantasy or Magic Realism.

Thankfully, there's no system or accompanying jargon to bog the story down. A star has fallen from the sky and she wants to be a people for awhile. Bam. Two characters attempt to dismantle the "how!?" for a couple pages and are mocked because the result stands before them, regardless of their mental gymnastics.

... and as the sky thins by a star ... the plot thickens.

It’s a shame Terry Pratchett is no longer with us. Admittedly I’ve read only The Colour of Magic and Snuff, but that’s enough for me to understand when someone cites him as a source of inspiration: the humor of Each Little Universe slaps.

As Veggie says, “... it takes two to tango, and three to make a carrier bag repair kit, and a few billion to make a society that can come up with stuff like lasagna and Windows Vista without murdering each other.” Er, ignoring the fact we DO murder each other.

There’s tons of nods to writers, hashtag gamers, wrestling fans, and the philosophically minded as well. Chris pokes fun at his own blogging; describes videogame staples by mechanics rather than by name (copyright issues?); somehow got me asking questions about the artistry of both wrestling and pron; and entire paragraphs are devoted to verbally backhanding a character named Derrida.

I've hardly mentioned the characters, but their chemistry floats this boat. Each is a person all their own. Rereading my notes to write this, I had several instances of Fridge Brilliance regarding names - of people and pets!

My advance copy of ELU is marred with highlights. Ugh! So many highlights. It was a great read from open to close. I hesitate to say "fun" because some chapters are grief-filled, wistful.

Even though I bought the Kindle Edition to support the author as thanks for a good read, a couple hours ago I saw physical copies go up on Amazon and ordered one to grace my shelf.

Screw the Swede;
Down with Derrida;
Gimme that Star Power.
Profile Image for Alex.
9 reviews
May 30, 2022
Each Little Universe tells the story of two hapless inventors whose lives are turned upside down by a mysterious woman who claims to be a star. A literal star as well.

I really enjoyed ELU. We start off getting to know the characters, their lives, interests and quirks. And while sometimes it feels like the plot takes a backseat in the early parts of the book I didn't mind this. I loved the world the author set up. I loved spending time with them and wish I had friends like TM, Veggie, Derrida and the rest.

When the plot really does pick up pace in the second part of the book it's a rollicking good ride. As the book reached its bittersweet climax I found myself wanting to spend more time with these characters and hope the author does a sequel.

I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading more by Chris.
Profile Image for Darby Cupid.
Author 8 books78 followers
July 23, 2020
I'm not sure where to start... Perhaps the beginning?

The two main characters, TM and Veggie, are two of the most real and endearing characters I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Through effortlessly flowing dialogue, these two absolute gems are possibly now two of my favourite people in the world.

The plot is possibly one of the most bizarre things I've ever read. This is not a bad thing. As I've said before, I have a habit of not reading blurbs, so I had no idea what I was getting myself in for. That said, if I had read the blurb, I'm not sure I would have been prepared.

TM and Veggie encounter a strange girl on the street, who they nickname Ziggy. She promptly moves in with them and turns their lives upside down. But then she would. Because she's a star. An actual bloody star.

Now, I will be honest. Large sections of this book retell a fantasy role play game which, I'm assuming is based around D&D, as well as video games. The dialogue flows just as well, but as I don't play either, I did lag a little during these parts.

As the story becomes more and more gloriously bizarre, I honestly couldn't have guessed where it was going to end up.

In conclusion. I would give the story itself a 3 star (perhaps the excessive D&D or perhaps that it doesn't follow a traditional story arc) but the characters and the writing style are so bloomin' amazing *I can not stress this enough*, I would give it 5 stars. So we'll meet in that warm squishy middle place of a solid 4.

If you want to meet some characters that will stay with you for, quite possibly, the rest of your life, I highly recommend this gem of a book.

Profile Image for Craig Rathbone.
16 reviews1 follower
August 22, 2020
An excellent debut novel, Each Little Universe manages to blend fun characters, some very deep thinking and a fun sci-fi plot together into a very enjoyable read indeed. The only real stumbling block for me was a rather abrupt change of pace midway through the story, but otherwise highly recommended!
1 review
September 16, 2020
I really enjoyed this book because of how easy it was to get to know the characters, and how real and natural they felt.
The story itself is essentially reality with a twist; a fantastic element which becomes central to the lives of the characters, and it was fun and interesting to watch them as they chose their paths.
I look forward to future writing from Durston!!
Profile Image for Steven Small.
1 review1 follower
July 14, 2020
Can I give this five stars even though I read it in an earlier incarnation? I hope you haven't changed it too much. I thought it was a great read at the time.
Profile Image for Lori Peterson.
820 reviews12 followers
August 9, 2020
Received as a review copy, this is an honest review. As two friends enjoy the adventure of a variety of table top gaming sessions, they end up finding themselves on a real one after they befriend a beautiful woman who actually is a real star from the sky. When she suddenly vanishes, the two friends set out to find and her and discover a lot of themselves along the way.
Profile Image for Sean.
274 reviews9 followers
October 12, 2022
1.5 rounded down to 1.

'What if I don't even really know what's supposed to be going on right now - what feels like the right thing to do in this moment - but I'm pretty sure there's some big important stuff going on that I should probably be more concerned about?'
Marty ran a hand through his thicket of blue hair. ‘I don't think there is a
supposed to be, really, but I do think you can't go too far wrong just by doing the stuff that feels important when it feels important. We're all only human, can't always know exactly what's best in the bigger picture.'
‘We are all only human,' TM agreed, perhaps a little too insistently. Marty raised an eyebrow.
'Well,' he said, 'I mean, I wonder about Veg sometimes, but eh.'

This book effectively takes place in modern day London but a little bit sillier and stranger than our version.

TM/Veggie: Veggie and TM are a pair of friends who tried to take up inventing as a job but they aren’t very good at it. They’re both very earnest and heartfelt individuals, if perhaps not the brightest.

Ziggy: Ziggy is a star. Not a star in terms of being famous, she’s a literal star from outer space transformed into a human. She’s very eager to try out this whole being a human thing.

Ziggy shows up one day as Veggie and TM are walking home. She decides to go home with them (not like that) and to join their inventing company.

My Thoughts:
If that plot summary seems light on details, it’s because it was. This is because there largely isn’t really a plot. There’s a series of events that happens but calling it a plot would be somewhat inaccurate. It’s really never clear where the story is going and many of the things that happen, like the frequent flashbacks, have little relevance or no relevance to the ending. The book throughout is just generally nonsensical. Weird seemingly arbitrary things happen constantly. Humor is very subjective but I found that the jokes often didn’t land for me.

This is clearly trying to be about big unanswerable questions like the meaning of life and one's place in the universe. That stuff is here, but it’s largely buried behind silly bits and jokes and innumerable references to video games and D&D. The book actually reminds me a lot of the Netflix show Bee and Puppycat, both in terms of the silly inanity and also the heart behind it all.

On the whole, this didn’t really work for me but I could see others liking it a lot more than I did.
Profile Image for Alix.
5 reviews
May 21, 2021
Disclosure: I was given a copy of this book by the author, in exchange for a review. He's a friend of mine, and so while this isn't the type of book I'd usually pick up, I left my usual wheelhouse and jumped into this zany adventure of friends trying to return a star to the sky (or not) and playing some D&D along the way.

This is a book that is clearly dear to the author's heart, and that comes through in every word. The characters are varied in style and personality, and they accept each other for who they are without the author dwelling overly-long on "labeling" them or making some sort of "point," which I appreciated.

I felt the book was in two parts: the contemplating, thoughtful conversations that the main character had with his girlfriend in a series of flashbacks, which pointed to a subplot that I wished had been more present in the story, and the "current" story of TM and Veggie as they bumbled through problems that they both created and solved.

Most of my critique of the book comes down to "I'm not the target audience," but the book, as others have pointed out, is "zany" and fun and captures "geek" culture in a way that books like Ready Player One could only hope to: with heart. If you're a fan of science fiction, and quick-talking, off-the-wall humor with just enough fourth-wall breaking to keep you on your toes, you can't go wrong with Each Little Universe.
Profile Image for Joshua Hoffert.
58 reviews7 followers
July 6, 2022
While it was a lot of fun getting to know the characters of Each Little Universe, the first 2/3 of the book (part one) were just a bit too slow paced for me. The many D&D-like game segments were fine but seemed to crawl on for too long. Part one also felt like it wasn't being pushed along by anything pressing.

That being said, I did enjoy the nerdy side of this book and part two included the action I was hoping for.
Profile Image for Kieran.
56 reviews
January 12, 2022
I received a free copy of Each Little Universe during a giveaway on Amazon.

Each Little Universe is at its heart an entertaining adventure story, that doesn't know quite what it wants to be: part slice-of-life, part quest adventure, even part socratic dialogue. It shifts between aspects of itself as nebulously as the self-conceptions of its characters.
This makes for a rather discombobulated read that has highly entertaining parts but other sections that whilst not poorly written don't quite seem to do as much narrative lifting as they ought to.

Parts of the story are directly outrageous (in a highly absurdist sense) such as using video games to train heist skills, whereas others speak directly to the thematic concepts that form the core of the story such as the existentialist game of Dungeons and Dragons that is presented in a highly effective switching style (a pity more of this was not present as these are the scenes where creative experimentation is most obvious).

The references may age poorly on this one as they are topical to their time and most of the humour of the story is derived from identifying them, and the base narrative is not quite unique enough as it follows perhaps too closely it's Neil Gaiman inspirations via way of Tom Holt (think Neverwhere) but as a light contemporary read it offers a brief moment of joyous escape.
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