Monday, October 7, 2013

Tandem - Anna Jarzab

Tandem - Anna Jarzab
Tandem by Anna Jarzab
Series: Many-Worlds #1 
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 8, 2013
Source/Format: NetGalley (Thanks Random House!) || e-galley
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]

Sixteen-year-old Sasha Lawson has only ever known one small, ordinary life. When she was young, she loved her grandfather's stories of parallel worlds inhabited by girls who looked like her but led totally different lives. Sasha never believed such worlds were real--until now, when she finds herself thrust into one against her will.

To prevent imminent war, Sasha must slip into the life of an alternate version of herself, a princess who has vanished on the eve of her arranged marriage. If Sasha succeeds in fooling everyone, she will be returned home; if she fails, she'll be trapped in another girl's life forever. As time runs out, Sasha finds herself torn between two worlds, two lives, and two young men vying for her love--one who knows her secret, and one who thinks she's someone she's not. 

Tandem is an incredible novel. It combines the science fiction element of parallel universes with the makings of a diverse fantasy world, which had the potential to either be a complete success or an utter failure. Thankfully, even with a bumpy beginning, the novel managed to dazzle me completely. Anna Jarzab managed to succeed in combining these two sub-genres with her novel, and has introduced me to a world and characters that are utterly fascinating.

In this book, there are plenty of universes but the story focuses on two: Earth and Aurora. Earth requires no further explanation, obviously, but Aurora does. It's a universe with more differences than similarities to earth, particularly natural phenomenons like the aurora borealis being an everyday thing, far more advances in technology and science, and the geographical divisions resulting in only two main countries. Aurora is characterized by political unrest, which remains the most important thing about it throughout the course of the story. While I could have used a little more description when it came to the actual scenery, Aurora sounded like a fascinating place.

Sasha Lawson is an Earth girl torn away from her real life to step into the life of her analog (the alternate version of herself) in Aurora, Juliana, who happens to be the crown princess of her country. While she initially seems weak-willed and makes incredibly rash decisions, she eventually demonstrates her intelligence, determination and goodness. 

Sasha certainly experiences a bit of romance in this novel, as there are two boys worthy of her regard: Thomas, a high-level security officer who serves as Juliana's bodyguard, and Callum, the prince whom Juliana is arranged to marry to broker peace between their rival countries. In case you were worried, this doesn't come across as a real love triangle at all because it's clear who Sasha picks right away.

The story is the best part, beginning notwithstanding! Apart from including a rationale behind the parallel universes and analogs, we are treated to a fantasy that tackles political unrest and palace intrigues. There are plenty of surprising turns that this book takes, and I found myself just being pulled along for the ride. It's hard to talk about what goes on without spoiling anything, but I can say this: from the moment Sasha arrives in Aurora, it's one thing after another for everyone involved.

After that ending, it is only right that I eagerly await the next installment! Tandem was an exciting series starter that has me fully invested in these characters and their story. Combining familiar, irresistible fantasy elements with surprising shots of sci-fi, this book won me over completely. 

8 comments:

  1. Yay! I am SO glad you liked this book! I haven't heard much about it yet, but I thought it sounded pretty great when I requested it on Netgalley. I really love the idea of parallel worlds, and the fantasy elements you mentioned have me pretty excited to start it soon! :)

    - Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl

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  2. Oh! I'd almost forgot I had this because I hadn't heard much buzz. Now that you loved it, I am moving it up the to-read list! :)

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  3. Sounds exciting. I've requested it. Hoping for a "yes!" Great review.

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  4. Ahh I am excited for this one now! I wasn't sure what to expect so I am glad you liked it so much. I am looking forward to the parallel universes!

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  5. This sounds so good! I'm glad I read this review; must add this to my list!

    And huzzah for a character named Callum - love that name!

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  6. you really made me want to read this :) I love your blog, keep posting!
    www.nosedeep.blogspot.com

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  7. I love the concept of this book. It's so fascinating to think about parallel universes :D

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  8. Y'know, for as many times as I've said I love parallel universe stories, I don't think I've ever READ one (just watched movies or whatever). There are a bunch of books like this out now, so I should really just get on it, y'know? But I do wonder how they explain what happens when you're in one universe and not the other. Like, what happens to your body? Are there two distinct people and people are confused when the personalities change? How can you only be aware of one personality at a time? This is so Timey-Wimey that I'll probably need the Doctor to come explain everything to me. (Because I would have to drop a Doctor Who reference in a comment on a review of a book about parallel universes.)

    Basically, what I think I'm saying is, shaky beginning aside, I'm probably going to have to read this one.

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