Review: ‘The Space Between Worlds’ by Micaiah Johnson

I have seen two worlds now and the space between. We are a wonder…


4.8/5 paper planes

What’s This Book About?

Genre: Science fiction (parallel universes, interdimensional travel)

Publication: 4 Aug 2020

Pages: 336 pages (hardback)

Synopsis: The multiverse business is booming, but there’s just one catch: no one can visit a world where their counterpart is still alive.

Cara’s parallel selves are exceptionally good at dying – dead on 374 worlds, to be exact – but on Earth Zero, Cara’s survived. Thanks to the rich Wiley City scientists who plucked her from the dirt, Cara’s got a new job, residence, and a near-perfect city accent. Now she can pretend she’s always lived inside the wall she grew up next to, even if she feels fake on either side.

But when one of her eight remaining doppelgängers dies under mysterious circumstances, Cara is plunged into a new world with an old secret. What she discovers will connect her past and future in ways she never could have imagined – and reveal her own role in a plot that endangers the entire multiverse.

Content warnings: death, violence/injury/mild gore, swearing, sexual references, abusive relationships

What I Thought:

This was so good. SO GOOD. The ending knocked me off my feet!

‘The Space Between Worlds’ boasts an incredibly layered plot with mind-boggling twists – like, ‘Chaos Walking’ level shocking – and if you know me, that’s high praise given that CW is like my gold standard for plot-twists. That being said, I did struggle slightly to understand the antagonist’s motives near the end, though the climax was certainly shocking.

Johnson writing is enthralling, with coiling tension and engrossing narration – I could practically hear the dramatic music rising in the background during particularly thrilling moments. This is a multiverse dark and gritty, that will not hesitate to rip out your throat and send it back to your Earth if it needs to. There is plenty to frighten – from rich Wiley City that protects only their citizens and leaves those outside its walls to a slow death of choice; to the hungry goddess Nyame guarding the space between worlds; to the ruthless Nik Nik, emperor of the desert, son of the even more vicious Nik Senior…and Cara’s abusive ex-lover.

Nik Nik’s father was one of the most brutal fighters, and the infighting continued for a generation until Nik Senior stopped it, in the way a lion stops infighting among gazelle. When the dust settled, the new emperor was on top, challengers dead or exiled. He opened his mouth, blood still dripping from his jaw, and declared peace.

alright then gif

Cara is a very nuanced character, truly gritty and convincing as a consummate survivor. Her spine and mettle reminded me a little of Katniss (‘The Hunger Games’) and Saba (‘Blood Red Road’), but older. I loved seeing Cara grow as she grappled with conflicting parts of her identity. She vacillates between facets of herself as she tries to understand who she is, and looks into the faces of those like her to search for any reflection.

I’m not even sure I can die anymore… I think my destiny is this: to watch every version of myself bleed on different ground until I am all that’s left.
Interrogating how we conceptualise and embody our identity and privilege was key to this novel, and I found it fascinating to learn about the different versions of Cara in each Earth. To see the variation in each one’s moral compass.

[K]illing should take longer than a heartbeat. Murder should be unignorable, always.

Who we are is what we do, our choices, just as much as it is birth situation and new environments we find ourselves facing. Cara is actually quite an introspective character, whose unique perspective granted by access to 374 worlds allows her to dissect more thoroughly the values held by those around her.

Why are we, who are so unhappy, fixated on long lives? What is the point? An easy life isn’t a blessing. Easy doesn’t mean happy. Alive doesn’t mean anything at all.

There was an amazing sapphic slow-burn enemies to lovers arc (bisexual and BIPOC rep!) and every character in this diverse cast is compelling, even the secondary ones. I particularly liked Cara’s sister Esther and Mr Cheeks, a gang member from Cara’s hometown. The sibling relationship between Cara and Esther, and between Esther and her twin brother Michael were emotional to read.

When I see [Esther]…I think, There, there I am. Because that’s what a sister is: a piece of yourself you can finally love, because it’s in someone else.

The concept of how the multiverse works and the worldbuilding of Cara’s immediate environment is intricate and ingenious, especially the social customs between Wiley City and Ashtown, where Cara’s from.

Time is flat. We process is linearly, but everything is happening at once, always… [S]ometimes when life is too still, when I lie in bed in the quiet, I can feel it all happening. Not just my selves collapsing, but time collapsing, because past and future are other selves just as surely as those on different worlds.
However, I would have liked to know more about the wider world beyond these two settlements, even just in Earth Zero.

I love an book that straddles the line between a satisfying ending and lingering questions. Which world, which Earth out of 382 will Cara get her happiest ending? In any other book I could view it as loose plot threads but not this one, given that the theme of multitudinous, unknowable possibilities across worlds is so central. It’s rare to read a ‘perfect’ ending so I treasure them when they do come around!

I highly recommend this epic debut!

Thanks to Pride Book Tours and Hodder & Stoughton for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Thanks for reading! Have you read this book yet?What are your feelings on parallel universes? Let me know below!

6 thoughts on “Review: ‘The Space Between Worlds’ by Micaiah Johnson

  1. OOOOOOOOOOOOOH. THIS SOUNDS SO FREAKING GOOD! How mild is the gore though? I’m okay with a little bit of ick but not full on 😅😅😅 but ahhhh I can read through squinting eyes lol! I just am so on board with the ides of multiverses. Fantastic review Sabrina 💖💙💚💛❤️💝

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s not *too* bad, I think…there are some broken bones and blood etc. but I kind of did the quick eye glossing over thing too when those were mentioned 😂 – mainly because I was dying to know what was going to happen next!!

      Yeah I love multiverses too and I’d love to read more books around that concept! I think the first one I ever read was the Chrestomanci Chronicles but I haven’t read very many since (dunno why!). Thanks Emer ❤️✨❤️

      Liked by 1 person

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