When seventeen-year-old Tati sends a saliva sample to a DNA ancestry testing site her results come back inconclusive. What’s wrong with her DNA? And what does it have to do with her unexplained seizures and the beckoning tunnel she sees during them?
What Tati discovers is more than she could have ever imagined possible. Parallel universes exist and her abnormal DNA compels and condemns Tati and her other selves—shy Ana—privileged Tatyana—and on-the-run Tanya, to a lifetime of ricocheting between their parallel lives in the multiverse.
With knowledge of their existence a deadly threat in every universe, the only chance all four have to survive is to work together to take down the scientist responsible: their father (From the Book Blurb)
I love science-fiction in general and the idea of multiverse in particular. So when I read the blurb for Ricochet by Kathryn Berla I didn’t hesitate, grabbed the book and started reading straightaway.
There are four points of view, so it took me a bit of time to get used to the four narrators: Tati, Ana, Tanya, and Tatiana. The author clearly put a lot of effort into differentiating their worlds and their voices. In fact, I quickly found myself relating more to one of them than to the others! Two of the protagonists live in the USA, having been adopted by American parents, although they do know that their origin is Russian. Overall, their life circumstances are fairly similar and you can concentrate on how the differences came about. The other two are much more connected to Russia. You can say that the task of following the four different stories was slightly reduced by this narrative device.
The ‘science’ idea the plot is based on is… Wait a second, this is a spoiler! You might want to skip the section between the following two images:
The ‘science’ bit the plot is built around is based on the most famous cat in the history of humankind. Yes, it’s Schrodinger’s cat. An electron can exist in more than one state simultaneously i.e. a wavelike state and a particle state, but when it is observed, it loses its duality. Once you open the box, the cat is either dead or alive, but not both at the same time. This theory gave rise to the idea of parallel universes, infinite versions of our life that would collapse the moment we tried to observe them. In this book Tatyana’s father, the proverbial mad scientist and megalomaniac, finds a way to alter the genetic code of the embryo of his own child to provide portals to three other parallel universes. The portals would allow the four girls to travel and observe the other universes. Imagine Schroedinger’s cat looking at itself – dead, half-dead or three-quarters dead. So, it’s a multiverse limited to four ‘states’/’identities’. This ‘genetic modification’ resulted in periodic seisure-like fits (which doctors could not explain or find any remedy for) when one of the girls tried to approach and observe herself in one of the other three worlds through a thin membrane. It was also the reason why the DNA tests run on the girls were inconclusive. With time, the girls’ genes began ‘healing’ themselves which would lead to complete disappearance/closure of the portals and total separation of the four protagonists’ worlds. In other words, the cat was able to periodically observe itself for 18 years.
After this brief digression we are back to the original spoiler-free zone!
The story also touched on teenager-parent relationships (e.g. Should you try to stop your parent from leading an unhealthy lifestyle that might lead to serious medical problems later or should you let them continue making their choices because they are an adult and your intervention would mean a strange role reversal), first love, trust issues, and setting boundaries between friends when one of them doesn’t want to change the nature of their relationship.
At some point the pace became really fast and the story started bearing similarity to an action thriller with lots of chases and narrow escapes. This was the bit where I got confused and started wishing for fewer secondary characters. I’m still not sure about the ending– I think if it had been told from the point of view of another protagonist, the one who was the most attached to the girls’ father, it would have carried more emotional significance. The way it was it felt almost too detached.
The cover is really beautiful and deserves a special mention. Overall, a quick read with varied characters and a lot of action, recommended for fans of sci-fi (who do not mind bending a few physics rules for the sake of an interesting plot) and fast-paced thrillers.
- Have you read any books by Kathryn Berla? if yes, any you would recommend?
- Do you like reading about the multiverse? If yes, what’s your favourite book that explores this idea?
- Do you like multiple points of view? What is the number of POVs you feel most comfortable with?