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Showing 1-6 of 6 reviews(3 star). See all 25 reviews
on January 1, 2016
This book has a good storyline but for me it was a little hard to follow. I enjoyed the idea and I think I understood the book in some instances but others lost me. But I think Sci-fi sometimes will do this to me anyway. * I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*
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on August 16, 2015
Too much going on to follow. I couldn't finish it...
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on September 6, 2014
DO NOT read this if you want a normal, linear story that makes complete sense and introduces ideas in a logical sequence.
DO read this if you want to try something very new and think about the universe in a completely different way.

I'm actually not even sure how to review this in a traditional way because the book was so very bizarre in its format. Let's go with this...

What I liked:
The aliens and the whole concept of the multiverses working together to make life better.
The characters (a lot of them) and how they felt real.
The whole idea of alternate time lines--something I've loved since Isaac Asimov's "The End of Eternity".
The enormous attention to detail in the whole world-building thing.

What irked me:
The fact that shortly after meeting the aliens, we are thrust into the future (or is it a flashback--that's how hard this is to follow) and a ton of acronyms and entities are suddenly taken for granted. There is an "appendix" with a glossary of terms. That might have worked for me except that in the ebook format at least, that meant jumping to the end and then there was no way to navigate back (no table of contents to take me back to the chapter I'd left). Perhaps in paperback form where I could dog ear the pages...?
As other reviewers have mentioned, the whole matter of tense and the writing style that makes it hard to know *when* I am. Which, yeah... Is a little moot when we're talking about alternative timelines and the fact that time is not linear. Yeah, I get it. But the readers still are used to linear, so we need to have it explained to us in that way.

I really think this would work better as a TV series where the visual clues might make it easier to tell "when" the reader is reading. It vaguely reminded me of Cloud Atlas, but harder to follow.
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on January 29, 2014
7/10 -- mostly because even though I didn't finish I had this nagging feeling through the whole read that in this book's particular style it's brilliant. Note to self: must read more books like this during the year.

After reading the blurb for this I was more than excited about reading. After the first three pages. Way excited about reading it. After that. Excitement slowly fizzled away into oblivion. I just couldn't get into this book. Every page I read felt like I was cramming for an exam tomorrow and if i didn't pay attention I'd fail. Information overload, brain system: crashed. The main character, Clara Branon, had a rather intriguing intro in chapter one. I laughed, my interest was piqued. Who is she. What are these visions she has, and these strange holograms in her room. Real or unreal. And the sense of wit, for me at least, was genius. Then after all that my brain was muffled down with a certain lack of flow or connective direction.

Too many acronyms for my brain to physically hold onto. Groups for this and that and just overwhelming amounts of information. If you're more into information gathering than story reading this book is for you. There's lots of perfectly sectioned and detailed accounts of things that happened over the years long before the protagonist even receives her first visit from the alien beings. Most of this info-giving is in interluded chapters, between the actual chapters. I think they are prefect. There isn't anything in theory I can find wrong with them. Except for one glaring thing. Well two things. They bored me and I had no idea what they had to do with moving along the plot.

They felt like research notes for a paper I'm not working on because I'm reading a novel. I kept reading them thinking, what do these have to do with my protagonist and her mission to bring information about the news of the alien organisation to light. Is this stuff that she would need to know. Probably. But do I need to know it. Nope. It was information that, as a reader, just distracted me. I wanted to find a way to connect these things to the storyline and just couldn't. Information just so I could know is what it appeared to be. It got so bad I actually stopped reading the interlude chapters.

The more I read the more I felt I was either stupid or just missing something. Every actual chapter, not the interludes, seemed to have some sort of information that just came out of nowhere without any hint or foreshadowing in the previous chapter. For instance, when the main character mentions her son being chosen for something in the grand scheme of things and how she gave people chapters of this book she was writing. I was like huh? As far as I knew she fell asleep thinking of who her earth media contact would be, she had a name and a physical description of said person in her head before hitting sleepy-town, and I was looking forward to her figuring out how she was going to convince this person she wasn't crazy. How she was going to convince the world she wasn't crazy. And most importantly how she was going to accomplish this if the aliens only spoke to her. I was already thinking this was a lost cause which was why I was so intrigued. I wanted to go along the ride of her becoming this new person. Needless to say we jumped into the future to find out she's writing a fiction book. Wait that's not entirely accurate, she's written a fiction book has shown it to people, her son is part of a group supporting the, oh I can't even remember. And she's ever so excited about this plan that is somehow magically already in existence. From first visit to book already being written, and obviously she's chosen the contact for said book which she is masquerading as fiction but is really truth. Still no idea how that's going to work (shoulder shrug) but it is a brilliant idea. And i don't mind reading things in flashback it's fun. It's just nice to know firstly that I'm in the future, secondly what the plan is, and then go back to mention certain pitfalls or rather entertaining dialogue exchanges.

And being able to see multiple futures, (this comes up a lot in the book. Simultaneous existence's.) is just fine. But telling me the lead will have to deal with the loss of never meeting her love for life, and then later on, a good twenty years or so in the future she's asking him to write his account of the alien intervention, again no idea how we got this far into the future when some of the chapters are still clearly working on her present day ESP training. How, when, and where did the decision get made that this was the future that would happen, if indeed it is happening as the male character muses himself in the book. Wasn't she moping over their possible nonexistence as a couple only a few chapters back. Where's the part about how she's so happy that, that future wasn't the one that actually happened out of the multitude of possibilities she saw. And probably wrote in this book she is writing.

If I could sum this experience up in one sentence it was like playing connect the dots except none of the dots on the page had numbers. So I was kind of ambling through them hoping that I'd lend on them correctly. It actually pains me to write this because the premise of the novel was great. The actual chapters are written well and are rather hilarious. I love good humor. But the lack of connectivity just pretty much defeated me. I think the reality of the situation is I'm clearly not smart enough for this type of writing style. Something to work on in future reading endeavors.

This book might very well be brilliant. But as I couldn't finish it I really don't know. I just know I was screaming to enjoy this book but didn't. If I could remove the interlude chapters, take a thread and string all the other ones together in one cohesive plot line I would. Instead I was left with this overwhelming scratching my head feeling. Just didn't get it. Again, I have this odd feeling that I'm just not smart enough for this book. I don't have the intelligence level to make good sense of it.

So even though I didn't get the greatest experience ever. If you like very well structured notes, detailed descriptions of almost everything (kind of like how Anne rice can spend five pages describing the veins on a leaf), humor (really good humor I might add), and a slight love interest, this book will not fail to impress you. In fact I guarantee you will love it if these are the types of things you look for in a book.
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on January 25, 2014
This is one of those strange books that was, on the one hand, difficult to read, but on the other, fascinating. The basic premise is that a school teacher deeply involved in Buddhism (and who accidentally views parallel and potential realities) gets visited by representatives from the MWC, a vast community of intelligent species. She is chosen as their chief liaison to the human race since, given the state of the Earth, they doubt Earth can survive without immediate intervention.

The book deals with interesting subjects ranging from alternate realities, reincarnation, some fairly trippy interpretations of science, and alien life that’s truly alien. It has a substantial number of problems, however. The pacing and presentation of the material made it difficult to read, a decent number of the author’s viewpoints get presented a bit too on the nose, and the author plays with the fourth wall too much for my tastes.

First, the whole idea of aliens constantly resetting small chunks of the universe to try and get the best outcomes for everyone involved is downright cool. This book treats parallel universes as a given and goes to great lengths explaining the different ways the MWC plays around with them to create a greater galactic society. It’s always interesting when a book decides that alien life is not only friendly, but has a utopian agenda.

Second, when the presentation of the material works, it’s a very unusual take on things that I found enjoyable. My favorite part is still a council meeting in which MEMBERS of the MWC discuss how they intend to handle the advent of nuclear power on earth. That, as well as how they handle religion, involves sleeper agents, reality resets, calculating probabilities, and a whole host of funky stuff that’s quite interest.

That being said, the presentation didn’t gel with me too often. The book had so many different styles and trains of thought going at the same time that it ended up feeling like more of a scrapbook than a novel. The author jumped between characters frequently, had a large number of different formats for each chapter of the book, and never quite settled on any one. It made the overall book difficult to read, although any individual section might be interesting on its own. This book would have benefited from picking from a couple of different styles for the chapters (such as the MWC meetings to determine the fate of Earth) and the ones focusing on Clara, rather than jumping around as much as it did.

Also, this disrupted the pacing of the book. The moment one train of thought got developed, the author switched to a different one. There was never a point where the chapters flowed together. There were a series of chapters that, had they been back to pack, would have flowed nicely, but they were divided up and scattered about the book. It’s not that I don’t think this style of writing can work, but it’s tricky to do, and it never quite came together for me.

The plot never quite hit the point where there was enough conflict to really grab me outside of my intellectual interest in what was happening. The major conflict in the book boils down to Clara coming to terms with being the most important person on Earth and not being able to be with the man she loves. All of this, however, plays out in little drips, and the level of tension never picks readers up and carries them along.

I also think the book would have worked better if the author had focused on how Earth was changing in more intimate detail, dropped a lot of the other material, and followed Clara closely as she dealt with these changes. As it is, she’s a bit detached and removed from it all. Sure, there’s a lot of interaction with her family, speeches, and stuff like that, but the book never shows me something like how, say, a Muslim living in a German slum’s life changes. I wanted Clara to be the vehicle for the personal stories of how the world changes rather than the detached narrator.

Another problem with the book is that, it’s clear either the author, or the character, or both, have very fixed political viewpoints (some of which I don’t even like to call political, because they’re, ahem, just what any human being with a soul should support). These viewpoints get thumped onto the reader without any serious discussion of the opposing viewpoints. It’s not a terrible thing, but the tone and presentation of these viewpoints can rub a reader the wrong way, especially as they build up over the course of the novel.

My final criticism is that the character seems to be a different version of the author, but more so than is usually the case. That, combined with the way the author presents the book (she plays with the fourth wall extensively) made me a bit uncomfortable. It’s not that I feel the character was a Mary Sue, it just did not sit well with me. Maybe in a short story, a comic, a movie, but in a book, I really like the book to be a new world, and any reference to it just being this one, that reminds me I’m reading fiction, tears me out of it. It’s a personal thing more than anything to do with the quality of the book itself.

In summary, this book never flows together into a focused novel, which is unfortunate given how interesting the subject matter is. It does, however, present enough fascinating ideas and viewpoints to partially redeem its shortcomings. I’d almost recommend treating it like a scrap book and picking out the various chapters that seem to interest you, rather than reading it cover to cover straight off the bat. All told, I give it a 3/5.
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on December 26, 2013
This Changes Everything. Sally Ember. Ebook.

Dr Clara Branon is visited by alien holograms one night. Although this is not shocking to her in itself because she has been visited by extraterrestrials since childhood, this is the first time the beings try to communicate with her. They call her by her full name and inform her that she is to be their chief communication officer between earth and the MWC, Many Worlds Collective.

Clara has to appoint a media contact to help her disseminate the information for the next few decades. At the same time, she has to explain to her son and other family members what she has undertaken to do, as well as her possible Future Husband.

Ember has structured the book into chapters and chapter interludes and it becomes unclear whether this is a work of fiction or nonfiction at times due to the structure and academic style used in the interludes.

There is only a loose plot and no villain as yet, which can make a reader lose interest, but Ember has appendices where she lays out the ideas for a series of ten of these books under the banner of The Spanner Series.

The book mixes world history and sociology together with extraterrestrial occurrences. It uses comic relief and shows Clara to be a really eccentric person through the story.

You may like this book if you enjoy humorous scifi such as The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.
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