May 12, 2015

Deborah Lynn Jacobs: "Choices"

Title: Choice [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Deborah Lynn Jacobs [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Multiverse
Year: 2007
Age: 12+
Stars: 2/5
Pros: Sibling love. A convincing explanation of multiple realities.
Cons: Some of the realities feel forced. The ending is not consistent with the premise, and the lead's final choice makes no sense.
WARNING! Drug smoking. A drinking parent.
Will appeal to: Those who like to wonder "what if..." and don't care much for plausibility.

Blurb: A teenage girl consumed by guilt over her brother's death tries to find a universe in which he is still alive. Choices begins in one dimension, then fractures into four distinct voices with every decision Kathleen/Kay/Kate/Kathy makes. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: This is a though one to review without being too spoilery, but I'll try...
I was originally drawn to Choices for two reasons: 1) the multiverse concept and 2) the apparently original premise...a guilt-consumed girl who would go to any lenght to have her big brother back. I'm intrigued by alternate-universes theories, and I thought it was refreshing to have a teen who was driven by sibling love instead of romantic/lustful one. Multiverse I did get - though it presented some issues that I'll address later - but as for the rest...I closed the book feeling cheated.
17 y.o. Kathleen has just lost her older brother Nick due to an accident she feels responsible for, because Nick was coming to pick her at a party where she didn't really want to go in the first place, and because she never learned to drive. Also, unlike most girls her age, Kathleen was very close to her big brother, which adds to her pain. Nick's death triggers a peculiar chain of events - or better, a series of them - Kathleen doesn't know what to make of at first: there are specific splitting points where she makes a decision instead of another and this causes equally specific consequences...The real catch is, Kathleen finds herself shifting among the different realities her choices and not-choices create, retaining a double memory after every split. Of course, Kathleen thinks she's losing it, and fast. It's Luke, a slightly older boy and fellow shifter she met at Nick's funeral, who finally helps her understand what's going on. I'm not a physics expert, but Luke's explanation of the shifts seems fine to me, and actually makes sense. Or I want it to make sense because I'm fascinated by characters who live different lives, so if there's a plausible way for them to, I'm more than happy :). (Not sure what Stephen Hawkins would have to say about Luke's theory, but still). Well, so, the multiverse part started strong to me. And Kathleen - in all her different versions - is a relatable enough character, though not particularly memorable. So what about the 2 stars? Here goes... [...]

1) Some of the realities felt forced to me. Especially a couple of versions of Kathleen's mother who are drastically different. I can't buy the fact that Nick's death either turns her into an alcoholic or a driven woman involved in social activities. On the other hand, Kathleen's father is absolutely the same in every reality she visits, which isn't consistent with his wife's drastic split. As for our main character, her different versions are drawn more subtly, and the fact that she's a teen makes them more believable, because adolescence is an age of changes and experimentations - but I'm still a little puzzled by some of her choices (I'm talking about the small ones here - as for the main decision she takes, I'll address it later).
2) I expected to feel more empathy with Kathleen, given her predicament. Instead, I found her to be okay, but like I said, not a particularly memorable character. (I'll have to be honest here, and admit that she may be too teenagery for me to read about, while her character will probably resonate more with readers her age). Also, with her final choice, she totally lost me...
3) Speaking of which. I can't elaborate this further, because you know, GIANT spoiler - but such choice doesn't make sense to me. Not to mention, it doesn't feel consistent with the premise of the whole book. Also, on one hand, Kathleen's feelings for Luke should suffer from the revelation of his big secret...on the other, she shouldn't even need to make that final choice between two different realities, because in both of them she'd have to start over again with him (for reasons I can't divulge). So what's the point?
In short, this wasn't what I'd call a bad book, but it fell short of a few things for me. Probably a fitter choice (seen the pun?) for a younger reader, but still I'm not sure, because the issues I mentioned (at least N° 1 and N° 3) are a bit huge IMO...

For more Multiverse books click here.

6 comments:

  1. Oh, that character development means so much, doesn't it? The synopsis sounds promising. Too bad. :(

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    Replies
    1. Indeed! I'm always on the lookout for a different book, but this one fell flat to me...

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  2. I've read a few of those alternate dimension type young adult this year, one being A Thousand Pieces of You which sounds pretty similar actually, but was well written. I dare say that the storyline sounds a bit too busy and doesn't allow much room for character development, or proper world building either. I love seeing the sibling dynamic, you don't often see siblings in young adult who have that close and loving relationship. Might just be a bit too young for us, but too all over the place for me to be able to enjoy. Sorry you couldn't have enjoyed this more Roberta, but absolutely wonderful review nonetheless <3

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    Replies
    1. I was drawn to it by the sibling dynamic as much as I was by the alternate dimension theme...yes, I miss that in YA as well.

      I've meant to read ATPOY for a while - then some Goodreads reviewers began to mention the wide romantic angle and I lost interest. Glad it was well written though!

      And thanks!

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  3. It is nice to have the main character driven by family love, as opposed to instant love for some hot guy. Sci-fi can be hit or miss with me, and this one, while it has an interesting premise, is probably not one I'll put on the tbr pile. Which is a good thing, because I have hundreds of books clamoring for my attention right now. ;) Great review!

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    Replies
    1. Re.: TBR pile: I wrote this review for you LOL.
      Thanks dear!

      Delete

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