Tuesday, July 9, 2013

It's All Relative

Expected Publication:  September 10th, 2013
By: Cristin Bishara
Walker Children's
ISBN-13:  9780802734686

If Ruby Wright could have her way, her dad would never have met and married her stepmother Willow, her best friend George would be more than a friend, and her mom would still be alive. Ruby knows wishes can't come true; some things just can't be undone. Then she discovers a tree in the middle of an Ohio cornfield with a wormhole to nine alternative realities. 

Suddenly, Ruby can access completely different realities, each containing variations of her life—if things had gone differently at key moments. The windshield wiper missing her mother’s throat…her big brother surviving his ill-fated birth…her father never having met Willow. Her ideal world—one with everything and everyone she wants most—could be within reach. But is there such a thing as a perfect world? What is Ruby willing to give up to find out?


     Ruby is un-enthused to say the least about moving to Ohio from California.  Especially when it means that she's gaining a new 'Mom' and a psychotic stepsister.  So when the aforesaid stepsister, Kandy, is terrorizing her one day Ruby comes across a tree that is famed for being haunted - killing anyone who tries to chop it down.  So when she sees a door in the tree she uses it to escape from further pain.   Once inside the tree, things get really weird.  When Ruby steps out again she's in a universe where her dead Mother is still alive, she has an older brother and she's a popular girl - an average student and purveyor of the color pink.  Desperate to find out what's going on (especially when she realizes that the money is different and history has changed), Ruby does some investigating.  She finds out that each time she goes in and out of the tree, she enters an alternate universe where everything might be different, or just a couple small things.  In one she lives in Ohio, but so does her best friend George from California and they start dating.  In another her Mom is her Math teacher, and lives in an apartment by herself, while Ruby and her brother live with their Dad.  Will she ever be able to get back to the world she belongs in?  Or will she choose to live in another universe, as a slightly altered version of herself?
     I really thought that Bishara managed to be creative and fresh in a world of growing amounts of alternate dimensions/freakish time exchange novels.  It managed to throw in some decently explained scientific stuff, while still packing in the action and keeping me glued to the edge of my seat.  That said, I feel like it could have used another 50-100 pages so that a little more explanation could be done on the tree and some specific differences in the history of each dimension.  The addition of a brother to Ruby's life in a couple of the dimensions was interesting and actually added something to it in my opinion.  I did like Willow, her stepmother, but felt like she wasn't very interested in Ruby or what Kandy was really doing when no one was watching.  Ruby's Dad seemed well-intentioned, but was more interested in his advertising campaigns than in making time for his daughter (leaving her mostly to her own devices).  The relationship she has with George is obviously a really intense and close one, but I felt like it wasn't really the focus of the novel.  
     The main question of it was this:  would you choose to live someone else's life just to have things exactly the way you always wanted them?  Even if it meant you'd no longer be yourself?  The ending (with the lightning strike) was pretty fitting, but I felt like this story was too open-ended for my liking as a reader.  I really did like that Ruby got a chance to know the Mother she lost so young to a bad car accident.  But at the same time, the action's focus did feel jerky sometimes.  I guess I'm in the minority that likes a medium to slow pace on novels that have a complicated story to tell.  My only complaint is that it gave me a lot, but not enough.  Overall, a really great read that I would recommend to fans of sci-fi and time-travel/alternate universes.  It's definitely a fresh piece of literature for someone who geeks on that stuff.  I oughta know, cause I'm one of those people! :)

VERDICT:  3.75/5  Stars

**I received this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie. No favors or money were exchanged for this review. This book's expected publication is September 10th, 2013.**

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