Friday, October 4, 2013

This Changes Everything by Sally Ember

     Sometimes a book comes along and you find yourself at a loss while you’re reading it. Sometimes it could be due to the fact that you don’t follow a writer’s point of view, writing style or choices they make; other times it may be the story or the characters that just don’t mesh well; and still there are other times when you may not be able to follow due to a lack of understanding of the material.
     In this week’s review I have found a story that I really feel is going to fall under one of those categories for some, but for others the twisting plots and time lines will be a challenge that is well received. Sally Ember really wrote a story that makes you work, not necessarily in a bad way mind you, but work none the less to keep up with.

     This Changes Everything is the first volume in the “Spanners” series. It follows Clara, a young woman tasked with bringing the human race of planet earth up to speed with the knowledge from an intergalactic council of planets in order for them to become members. If you’re already thinking this feels like a daunting task then you may find yourself in one of the groups I mentioned earlier, if this Sci-fi adventure still seems to be up your alley then read on.

     In addition to being instantaneously force fed the knowledge of the universe, Clara must learn to release this knowledge in spurts at the extraterrestrials discretion. To do this she must use a ‘new and up and coming’ reporter that just so happens to become a bit of a love interest.
     What complicates this is that Ember introduces the idea of a multiverse/multiple time lines into the picture. While I’m a fan, though I can’t say I personally believe the theory, of the multiverse theory that says every decision we make creates a multiple number of other universes in which different choices and consequences are formed, some small scale such as running a stop sign resulting in a ticket up to large scale such as running the stop sign causes an accident that kills someone. Fans of the butterfly effect will relate to the metaphor of every choice creating a ripple with unknown effects.

     This multiverse concept, coupled with multiple time lines throughout, creates both confusion and understanding. I think the attempt is solid, and there are several pros to this story, such as:

  • The concept is wonderful and feels very new. Though there are times that fall short and everything seems confusing, those times are offset by times in which the multiverse idea is really explained in a way that does justice to the incredibly in depth and thoughtful idea.

  • The way Ember writes the first person perspective is very interesting. Though the story is mainly a journal entry, it is written in a laid back manner that really reminds you of someone writing in their journal.

Despite the ‘pros’ I mentioned above, there are a couple of possible downsides I need to mention:

  • As I mentioned earlier, the concept is wonderful and new. It is, however, hard to follow at times; this won’t be a turn off for everyone but if I feel as though it merits a warning.

  • The characters feel like they lack a little depth. This fact makes sense when it comes to the alien visitors, but many of the main characters feel a little one dimensional. I can’t apply this to the main character, Clara, since as I mentioned earlier Ember does a wonderful job of writing in that first person and giving her a voice and a life of her own.

     In the end This Changes Everything by Sally Ember is a well written, complex work that is going to add a strong title to a genre that can sometimes become bogged down with the same old same old.
Overall I'm going to give This Changes Everything a 7/10 based on:
     6/10 for readability - Ember's story, while being well written, is a bit hard to follow at time. The transitions do come off a little rough at times.
     7/10 for characters - As I mentioned earlier the main character is very well done and believable as a normal woman with this huge weight dropped on her. The support characters, however, tend to fall a little short and feel a little one dimensional.
     8/10 for story - The story concept is wonderful and challenging at the same time. There are times when it gets a bit hard to follow, but these times are few and far between. Taking on the task of writing a story that covers multiple time lines and multiple universes  is enough to warrant a hat tip to Ember.
     8/10 for concept/execution - I've mentioned this several times already, but I feel the true x-factor for this story is the vast concept, and execution, of writing a story that spans time lines and universes. It so easily could have turned into a mess, but Ember really reigns it in and edited it down to a point where its, for the most part, easy to follow.
     Thanks goes out to Sally Ember for allowing me to read and review this title. Though I know the review is a bit mixed, overall This Changes Everything is a book that I am very happy to have had the chance to read and I would recommend it to any sci-fi/fantasy fan.
     Currently this book hasn't been released yet, but Ember is projecting the beginning of November as a release date. I will keep my post/blog updated when the story is released. Meanwhile you can see updates on the book, and more information on Sally Ember at the series' homepage here.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much, Zach. One tiny correction: the journalist, Esperanza (Espe) Enlaces is NOT a love interest for the main character, Dr. Clara Branon. That role is played by Epifanio Dang. Otherwise, excellent, fair review. Much gratitude! Sally Ember, Ed.D., author, "This Changes Everything," Volume I, "The Spanners Series."