Hardcover, 496 pages
Expected publication: July 22nd 2014 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Format read: E-ARC via publisher
There's enough romance, adventure and courage in Erica O'Rourke's spectacular novel, to keep readers riveted right alongside Delancy Sullivan, as she works to figure out the future of her life and her world.
Normally, Del can hear the dissonant frequency that each world emits as clear as a bell. But when a training session in an off-key world goes horribly wrong, she is forbidden from Walking by the Council. But Del’s not big on following the rules and she secretly starts to investigate these other worlds. Something strange is connecting them and it’s not just her random encounters with echo versions of the guy she likes, Simon Lane.
But Del’s decisions have unimaginable consequences and, as she begins to fall for the Echo Simons in each world, she draws closer to a truth that the Council of Walkers is trying to hide ~ a secret that threatens the fate of the entire multiverse.
And let me just tell you, Erica's book definitely lives up to every bit of the hype. It's imaginative, dramatic and has the type of writing and world-building that absolutely will keep a reader guessing and thinking, long after they've finished reading.
Things that worked:
From the very first page, I had something of a love-hate relationship with Delancey Sullivan, and that's just something I need in a character sometimes.
There's no question that Delancey is a gifted Walker, someone who can traverse through multiple universes, fixing breaks as they appear. However, she's also a very stubborn girl, prone to making impulsive decisions and careless mistakes that sometimes cause more harm than good - much unlike her sister.
I loved the fact that readers can easily see from the very first page, Del is a force to be reckoned with. She doesn't always listen to the rules but does listen to her heart, something I especially think that burgeoning teens can understand.
(Conversely, I think the authority figures in their life, will also appreciate the fact that Del's acts of impeteous behavior do have consequences.)
Del grows a significant amount throughout the novel, sometimes causing chaos wherever she goes, but also with good intentions. I think that readers will ultimately enjoy seeing how she matures and learns from her mistakes, while also remaining true to what she's willing to fight for.
For some strange reason, I went into Dissonance thinking that it was Erica's debut novel. It's not, but the writing has that same degree of energy and innovativeness that I typically do associate with debut authors.
Erica crafts an elegant and scientifically accurate world for Del, using her to introduce readers to the concept of multiverses and Walkers. In Del's world, universes are formed on the axis of a single decision or occurence, where when you make the decision between A or B, one decision will become the primary path, while the second decision will splinter off into a new universe.
But even as the universes develop at their own path, it's up to Walkers like Del to ensure that the worlds stay in shape. Each world is essentially a string, and Del is the tuning fork that keeps them playing harmoniously together.
Without giving spoilers away, I was honestly wowed by the inherent logic behind Erica's thinking. She explains how universes branch off to create occasionally different environments, but also how/and when there will be overlap, as Del comes to realize with Simon.
I can easily see Erica's vision encouraging readers to consider the possibility of multiverses for Del, while also encouraging them to seek out the study of multiverses for themselves.
The Family Issues
One of the best parts of Dissonance is the fact that Del is frequently misunderstood by her family.
Her parents are frequently absent, and when they do appear, they seem to spend a lot of time comparing Del to her sister. Del's sister also makes it a point to further the comparsions, often picking on Del's mistakes, and reminding her that she can (and should) do better.
While it's definitely not fun for Del to be the subject of those criticisms, I think that both her reaction to them, and her way of processing and (occasionally!) learning from those mistakes will be relatable for readers. Readers can take heart from the fact that Del's parents and sister - as annoying as they can be - do love her, and watch as the events of the novel bring them closer together, and toward a more accurate understanding of one another.
Finally, I also loved the fact that Del's closest relationship was with her grandfather Monty. He undestands her talents and humors her quirks, and she gently humors his beliefs. They've developed a rock-solid bond as a result, something that I think many a young reader - including myself - who have had surrogate parental figures, can definitely understand.
Holy hell. Erica O'Rourke definitely knows how to write the type of ending that makes readers gasp in delight, but also groan in pain, because they have to wait for the next book.
(Soon, guys! SOOOOOOOOOON!)
Things to consider/Things that didn't work:
To put it another way, it seemed like Del fell more and more in love with Simon after meeting the Echoes, and transferred that affection to one Simon. It felt a little off for me, but I think I may be in the minority in this one.
Erica has built up a mythos for Del and the Walkers that will keep readers intrigued, while opening up their minds to the idea that there may very well be different versions of them, living very similar and very different lives in other worlds. Readers will undoubtedly be curious enough to begin exploring the idea of the butterfly effect, and the possibilty of branching universes.
Outside of the science, Erica has also written a thoughtful book on human nature, and what it is that drives us to connect with certain individuals, time and time again. Even though Del's relationship with Simon is far from perfect, the fact that she continues to see a universality in him throughout each universe, speaks to an optimism and strength of belief in human nature that is worth exploring.
I strongly recommend this book for fans of Claudia Gray, and readers who enjoy books that study the what-ifs in life.
About the author:
I write books about girls who make their own fate and fall for boys they shouldn't. I live outside Chicago. I like to travel but I'll never really leave this city. I prefer cookies to cake (even cupcakes), television to movies, and autumn to all the other seasons. I like sushi, naps, coffee, and driving stick shift. I hate fish, emoticons, bridges, and talking about myself.
Click here for more about me.