Friday, September 28, 2012

Me on Through to You

Title: Through to You
Author: Emily Hainsworth
Release Date: October 1, 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins imprint)

Cam has been grief-stricken since his girlfriend Viv died. She was the last good thing in his life, helping him after an injury, after his family broke apart, after the pain meds wore off. Now, he'd give anything for one more glimpse of her. But when he makes a visit to the site of her accident, he sees some kind of apparition. And it isn't Viv. Her name is Nina, and she's not a ghost. She's from a parallel world, one where Viv is still alive. All of Cam's focus is now on getting his girlfriend back, but things are different in this other world. Viv and Cam both made some different decisions, things between them have changed in different ways, and this Viv isn't like the one he lost. Nina is keeping some dangerous secrets, too, and the window between the worlds is getting smaller. As Cam comes to terms with who this Viv has become and the part Nina played, he'll have to make a choice, stay with Viv or let her go, before the window closes once and for all.

Through to You is mysterious, a darker sort of fantasy, a fantastical sort of science fiction, and a powerful book about grief and emotions. Cam is drowning in grief, so close to sinking away from everyone else in his life until there's a glimpse of hope in the distance, and the overwhelming desire to see Viv alive and breathing again takes control. But nothing is perfect, nothing is simple, and sometimes the grass isn't greener on the other side. We've all had moments where we did one thing, wished we did the other and regretted it, but if you were given the chance to live in a world where the other choice had been made, would you take it, knowing that other things would be different, too?

The lack of connection with the world, the desire to go back to how things were, the loss of control. Cam is depressed, so much so, after his girlfriend died in a car accident. It's so interesting, not to mention refreshing, to see grief from a male character's point of view. It's not just girls that break down, that want nothing more than to curl up into a ball and give up when someone close to them dies. Everyone experiences loss at some point in their lifetime, and it's both boys and girls that can be overwhelmed by that loss.

There's been a recent surge of science fiction elements in YA novels, not hard science fiction like space travel or extremely advanced technology, but more of the quantum physics side of science fiction like time travel and alternate realities. And it works with the book's dark and moody teenager mood. Cam's skirting the edge of giving up, then Nina appears from her reality and everything changes.

There are so many possibilities when writing about alternate dimensions where once choice changes everything. One world where Cam is alive. One world where Viv is alive. But it's the other differences that matter. One divergence in the past will change the future, and what Cam thinks is one difference in the other reality is really a lot of differences, ones that will force him to make a tough decision, to follow his broken and grieving heart or to let the past be the past and move on.

I figured that, going into the book, there would be one secret that, once revealed, would bring everything crashing down on Cam, and the author did a good job of building up the tension until that moments. It's a very visual book, and a very edge-of-your-seat kind of book, not in terms of action but tension and emotional strain. I kept guessing at what secrets Viv and Nina were hiding, what Cam would discover every time he explored the other world, and what he would decide to do every time he was forced to make a choice.

(I received an advance copy to review from HarperCollins Canada.)

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