8. A Crack in the Line (Withern Rise #1) by Michael Lawrence
Publication: Greenwillow Books (August 23, 2005), Paperback, 323pp / ISBN 006072479X
Genre: Sci-Fi, YA
Rating: 5 birds
Read: January 15, 2010
Summary from Amazon:
Alaric’s life has unraveled in the two years since he lost his mother in a terrible train crash. He and his father are barely speaking, and their home, Withern Rise, is in shambles.
Naia tries not to dwell on the accident that nearly killed her mother two years ago, now that life with her parents at Withern Rise has returned to normal.
One and the Same
Alaric and Naia do not know each other, or that they are living nearly identical lives. But when they meet, their resemblance to each other is unmistakable. As their lives entwine, they uncover a truth that has the power to rearrange, or even erase, their very existence.
I bought this in a book splurge back in November because of this Tor.com post, and I am so glad that I did! It’s just made up for the last two weeks of mostly-mediocre books I went through. Yay!
I won’t go into too much detail, mostly because I think it’s better if you read it for yourself and figure out things without me telling you about them before hand. There’s some excellent twists and exciting scenes that happen, and while I really want to talk about them because they’re wonderful, I think that’d be doing you a disservice. So I’ll just be somewhat vague but full of praise.
The focus of the book at first isn’t necessarily on the alternative world thing, but on the characters, their lives, feelings, problems, etc. Mostly on Alaric’s feelings and problems, actually, because he comes from the world that has gone wrong. Naia is in the “better” world, and so she doesn’t have much else to fixte on except this weird thing that’s happening to her.
I would probably normally feel annoyed by Alaric, because surely the fact that he’s moving through realities warrants a cessation of the self-pity that he’s is trapped in, right? But he doesn’t stop, and in fact it just gets a bit worse. And I’m probably being a little unfair, calling it self-pity, because at this stage in his life he’s not in the most healthy of environments or emotional/mental well-being. It’s deeper than that, see: he’s in mourning for his mother and having a hard time moving forward. So when he gets sucked into a world where she’s not dead…I can see becoming rather obsessed with the differences between his world and Naia’s. And so I never became annoyed with him.
Actually, I rather liked that Alaric didn’t immediately become entranced with moving-through-realities-what-does-this-mean stuff. It’s a terrifying prospect, when you really think about it, and I just think that the way Alaric (and Naia, for that matter) dealt with the whole thing was kind of refreshing. And it made for a really engrossing read, too.
I think I’ve started to go into spoilers. Um. Let’s try this: Naia is a great heroine. She’s strong and smart, and while she keeps pushing Alaric emotionally she also knows when to back off and let him breathe. I wish she had been able to do more, though. She seems to have had more of the science-y, theorizing parts and Alaric was left with the practical applications and experimentation bits. That wouldn’t have been so bad, but because Alaric is so jealous of Naia he kept some stuff from her and ignored her, and now he knows things she doesn’t and I’m sure something bad is going to happen because of that. It’s making me nervous about the future two books, actually.
Anyway, one of the themes in A Crack in the Line was, basically, “what you choose to do now affects multitudes of things in the future.” I really like that idea, though if you think about it for too long it can become terrifying. How could anyone make a choice if it might negatively affect someone else later on, even if that choice seemed like a good one at the start? There’s some really excellent questions in that line of thinking, and as soon as I track down some sci-fi nerds I’m going to open up a discussion.
If you like A Wrinkle in Time but get bogged down in the science talk, try this one. It’s just as emotional and scary and exciting, but maybe less intimidating. And, okay, less beautifully written. (It’s hard to top Madeleine L’Engle in writing style.) But, still, it’s very, very good. I can’t wait to read the next two books– it’s a trilogy– and I hope I’ve convinced you to try out this book for yourself. It’s utterly wonderful, and I had a great time reading it.
Is anyone else absolutely terrified of being sucked into another reality besides me? Anyone?