Author: Emily Hainsworth
Genre: YA, speculative fiction, sci-fi/fantasy
Publication Date: October 2, 2012 (HarperTeen – North America)
Source: Edelweiss Review Copy
Summary: Camden Pike has been grief-stricken since his girlfriend, Viv, died. Viv was the last good thing in his life: helping him rebuild his identity after a career-ending football injury, picking up the pieces when his home life shattered, and healing his pain long after the meds wore off. And now, he’d give anything for one more glimpse of her. But when Cam makes a visit to the site of Viv’s deadly car accident, he sees some kind of apparition. And it isn’t Viv.
The apparition’s name is Nina, and she’s not a ghost. She’s a girl from a parallel world, and in this world, Viv is still alive. Cam can’t believe his wildest dreams have come true. All he can focus on is getting his girlfriend back, no matter the cost. But things are different in this other world: Viv and Cam have both made very different choices, things between them have changed in unexpected ways, and Viv isn’t the same girl he remembers. Nina is keeping some dangerous secrets, too, and the window between the worlds is shrinking every day.
As Cam comes to terms with who this Viv has become and the part Nina played in his parallel story, he’s forced to choose—stay with Viv or let her go—before the window closes between them once and for all.
☆: 4/5 stars – a deliciously subversive tale of love and loss!
Review: Caution: those expecting lots of action and swooning heroines – this book is mostly about coping with loss – which is so very important within YA lit, where we deny loss the most. “Through to You” was a pleasantly fun little thrill ride, though there were parts that disappointed me (namely, things that weren’t talked about at all but really needed to be talked about), it was mostly pretty awesome. If you’re looking for a subversively quiet sci-fi/fantasy YA book, go for “Through to You”.
Okay, so I think it needs to be said: this is not the feel-good book of the year. But you know what? Sometimes, that’s really needed. We have our MC, Cam, mourning the recent loss of his girlfriend, Viv, and how things pretty much everywhere in his life have gone to hell. Dad is gone and took most of their family’s stuff. Mom is a workaholic lawyer, and isn’t around. Cam has a gimpy leg from a football injury gone wrong. His popular crowd friends have rejected him because he rejected football and physical therapy for said gimpy leg. Personally, I felt Hainsworth went a little far with building Cam as this character with nearly nothing left to lose, but at the same time, it works brilliantly with everything by the end of the book – because we see that the stakes have been reversed, and there’s the chance that maybe, he has everything left to lose – he just doesn’t see it.
Alongside the theme of loss is that of M-Theory/the Multiverse, and how things might have been different had we chosen differently. I can’t help but think that Nina’s name, as well as her role within the book was a bit of a tribute to “Fringe” (similar character, same name), which I really liked. That aside, what needed to be there and what wasn’t there was the more thorough explanation of the multiverse. Yes, happily it’s a theme that’s finally getting explored more in YA as of late (this is fourth book this year alone being published with M-Theory as a large part of the plot), but as it’s still being explored within the realm of quantum physics, I felt like there needed to be a bit more of an explanation. What we got was adequate, but just not thorough enough. I didn’t need a whole monologue about it, but the explanation of “in my world x, in your world y” just didn’t cut it for me. That’s a really big part of worldbuilding that just didn’t happen, and it really needed to. Had there been a little bit more worldbuilding in the explaining department, it definitely would have boosted my enjoyment of the book.
There’s also the theme of regret attached to those choices – why did I choose X instead of Y? This theme is very, very quiet throughout most of the book, and it’s only within the last 10% or so that we get Cam really thinking and acting on that theme, as well as reflecting on the fact that his Viv may not have been the wonderful goddess-like figure that he’d worshipped both before and after her death.
Generally, though, this is a wonderful book when it comes to exploring loss, death, and choices. Hainsworth crafts wonderful MCs, and fleshes them out via the relationship web of character building (which can also be used for worldbuilding – it wasn’t here), making them all feel real. While we can’t yet go over to parallel worlds and see what might have been, it might one day become a reality. But until then, we have stories like this to remind us the gravity of our everyday choices – from the smallest thing like choosing what to eat to life-altering choices like choosing to quit sports at school (life-altering for teens). It’s very quiet, contemplative, and subversively good.
“Through to You” is out from Balzer+Bray/HarperTeen in North America on October 2, 2012, so be sure to check it out then. It’s really a lovely read.