Read: 4th August 2020 DNF
Spoilers in review: Of the first chapter
CW: Sexual assault, incest, violence, suicide
DNF’d at 40%
When Laney was 13 years old, she saw her father having sex with someone who wasn’t her mother. Her father begged her not to tell anyone, but Laney immediately told her mother what she’d seen, which directly led to her parents breaking up. In the three years since that day Laney has become obsessed with the idea of alternate universes where different choices lead to vastly different outcomes. Now she’s 16, the lines between universes have started to blur, and Laney is finding that she’s able to skip between the timelines.
This is a really interesting concept for a book, and I was really hoping and expecting to like this one! I’m genuinely disappointed that I didn’t.
Laney’s obsession with timelines, universes, and what she saw three years ago, makes complete sense. She was traumatised and hasn’t been able to effectively deal with that. But her only other personality trait outside of this up to this point in the book is a tendency to jump to conclusions. What little actual presence she had, I didn’t really like. If Laney had been developed more, and had been given more personality outside of her trauma, then that would’ve improved this book tremendously.
I liked Laney’s mother a lot less than I liked Laney herself. One of the first things the reader is shown, as in this is the very first chapter, is a conversation that Laney and her mother have one year after the Incident™. Laney tells her mother that she’s been obsessing over what she could’ve done differently that day. Instead of reassuring her daughter that she did the right thing, or that Laney not saying anything that time would only have delayed the inevitable and that the affair would’ve eventually come to light anyway, she went into detail about how the many worlds theory works and reinforced Laney’s obsession with what-ifs. Which is the exact worst thing she could’ve done. In what else I read, her interactions with her daughter did not read like that of a healthy mother-daughter relationship. It rubbed me up the wrong way. To be fair, that might have been Skipstone’s intention, but I didn’t get the impression that it was.
This book has trigger warnings at the start, which is a very good thing! Every book should do this! I’m very glad that Skipstone included this, and I hope that doing this becomes industry standard very soon. However, not every potential trigger that crops up in this book is in that opening list. That there were any is better than nothing, but two major things that are in this book weren’t mentioned: incest and sexual assualt. Laney is sexually assaulted and nearly raped by someone she trusted, and her stepbrother is constantly leering at her and trying to get her to sleep with him. Incest squicks me out, and I would’ve appreciated a warning for it. If either of these things were triggers for me, then reading these things could’ve been actively harmful, rather than just deeply uncomfortable.
Aside from these incidents, the rest of the book is also overly and unrealistically sexual. I freely admit that I’m asexual and my sexual experience is non-existent. I still doubt that many allosexual straight girls can say that, when they were 16, they decided to film each other masturbating at a sleepover and then freely shared those videos around. That scenario Just Doesn’t Happen.
All of this was making me want to stop reading, but I usually try to read at least half of arcs before DNF’ing. But then Laney said some casually racist shit and I could not bring myself to read the next page, so here we are.
I received an e-arc of this book through Netgalley in return for an honest review.