Completed 5/27/2018, Reviewed 5/27/2018
Have you ever picked up a mirror and reflected it into another mirror to gaze into the infinity of reflections? That’s an image used in this book, but instead of gazing in wonder, I was bored. The premise is quite interesting: a woman exists in multiple universes that eventually converge. Unfortunately, I found the convergence really hard to follow and just found myself reading through it just to get to the end.
Anastasia Valerie Stein is Ann in one world, where she is married to Neil and has twin daughters. She remembers things that didn’t happen to her. It’s as if she’s channeling other people’s experiences. In another world, she’s Stacey, a woman with two lovers, whose long lost son show up to introduce her to a prophetic cult. In another, she’s Val, a bisexual professor in a timeline of scarcity. In the last, she’s Tasha, a tarot reader in an England where Germany invaded and won World War II. In all these parallel worlds, there is movement to some kind of overlapping event.
The form of the novel is pretty interesting, though confusing at first. It interweaves the narratives of all the versions of Anastasia. It makes for fairly exciting episodic reading. As the book progresses, though, the coming together of the worlds gets pretty confusing. Finch throws around a lot of pseudo-quantum physics to explain the possibilities of multiple existences. I found myself just pushing through a lot of it, feeling lost in the different plotlines. One device I thought was pretty good was that the reality of Ann keeps splitting into different lines, until we’re just following Ann 34. But overall, I was pretty lost and just got bored.
The book is relatively short, just over two hundred pages. I think the book could have been longer, with more time spent developing the different versions of Anastasia. Ann is the most developed. She seems to be the primary version. We see her in her family life, her slow breakdown as she loses time and yet has terrific déjà vu experiences. The others, we see bits and pieces of, but nothing quite as strong as Ann. Tasha is particularly interesting as the psychic being pursued by the Nazi military for her possible ability to communicate with the parallel universes. But with her, we just get a dollop of interesting activity, nothing really profound.
I give the book two stars out of five. The strength of the premise and the form of the novel was quickly overshadowed by how bored I became as the plots converged.