(I got a copy courtesy of NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.)
I've debated again and again, whether I should give this book 1* or 2, so let's say it's a 1.5. I wouldn't deem it as bad per se. In fact, it dealt with themes I'm usually fascinated with: parallel worlds, and manipulating the very fabric of reality. But it was just so long. It felt so long. It felt as if it picked up by the 75% mark, which was too late to muster much interest in me, and I'll be honest: if I hadn't got it through NetGalley, if I hadn't considered myself as owing it a review (and a full read), I would havd stopped reading it days ago.
I loved the beginning: that scene in the plane, one set of people dying while another replaced them—raising from the start the question of "who is real?" Can we call people from Mara's world "the real versions", or are their "dopplegängers" just as real? It's all in the eye of the beholder, and one soon comes to realise that things aren't so easy. It's not simply about sending people back to their original realms. It's not only about the poor ones who died and were replaced by "evil" counterparts, because while some of those counterparts were indeed rotten, others were pretty decent people. And that's the key word: people. In that regard, you can't read this book with an all-or-nothing approach.
Unfortunately, the characters and the way they made their way through the story seemed off balance to me. There was a lot of talking, of explaining, something that was partly unavoidable (considering the theories behind the various worlds and how to affect them), but too often I caught myself thinking that the characters took their sweet time getting to actually tackling the problems. Again, I guess it was logical, in a way (for instance, convincing Mara of her powers in a snap of fingers would have been just... bad); only it happened in ways that made the story drag.
Maybe the premise of "every single passenger survived vs. every single passenger died", something that really grabbed me in the blurb, would have deserved more spotlight (as it was, the ones who should have cared packed up the investigation pretty quickly—and I'm talking of several people here, not just a certain person). Maybe the plot would have called for more action on the main characters' part (all the scenes at the repair shop didn't strike me as particularly useful, and I suppose they contributed in dragging things down). At this point, it's hard to tell, becaue everything's got muddled in my head. I never found enough interest to read more than a few chapters at once, despite somewhat wanting to know where the plot was going.
There are intriguing things in this novel. Alas, I just couldn't remain interested for very long, nor invested in the characters and their relationships.