Date of Publication: October 8 2013
Sixteen-year-old Sasha Lawson has only ever known one small, ordinary life. When she was young, she loved her grandfather's stories of parallel worlds inhabited by girls who looked like her but led totally different lives. Sasha never believed such worlds were real--until now, when she finds herself thrust into one against her will.
To prevent imminent war, Sasha must slip into the life of an alternate version of herself, a princess who has vanished on the eve of her arranged marriage. If Sasha succeeds in fooling everyone, she will be returned home; if she fails, she'll be trapped in another girl's life forever. As time runs out, Sasha finds herself torn between two worlds, two lives, and two young men vying for her love--one who knows her secret, and one who thinks she's someone she's not.
The first book in the Many-Worlds Trilogy, Tandem is a riveting saga of love and betrayal set in parallel universes in which nothing--and no one--is what it seems.
Review:The very end of the book said something along the lines of "this is just a beginning, it's not the end". That, I think, is a pretty succinct description of Tandem. I think Tandem is such a beginning that it feels too long. It's not until the end that the major plot really seems to fly by. I also can't help but wonder what if the story instead started after the end of Tandem. What happened in Tandem was necessary for the overall story arc, but I think it was a little tedious to read about. It's what happens next that fascinates me.
I didn't feel a connection to any of the characters. They weren't irritating, but the emotional bond was weak. I also thought that the author didn't do as good of a job at really defining each character as she could have. They felt like characters from a book, rather than real people. I feel like I've read of several Sashas, Thomas' and Callums before, and that kind of sucks.
There was one character whom I did find fascinating: Julianna. I felt this less by the end, but I couldn't help but be fascinated by this lonely girl who is willing to forgo all of her duties for freedom. I feel like Julianna's story is really the fascinating one, and I think this story could be incredible if the author puts the right emotion into it. Basically, Julianna's mother is exiled, her father is injured and bedridden, her stepmother despises her, she's worried one of her father's friends will kill her, and she is set to be betrothed to the prince of the enemy of her country in an alliance that will result in a peace treaty that could end the generational war with Farham. But somehow, Julianna is running away from all that. I feel like expanding on her character will (because I hold out hope that this will happen in future novels) just bring the emotional connection Tandem lacked. I mean, Julianna's life is a tragedy! And since Melina Marchetta, I have an enormous appreciation for emotional fantasy.
Compared to Julianna, Sasha is pretty, uh, mundane. I know not everyone is a princess with emotional barriers, but there was nothing that called me to Sasha. Her parents died and she lives with her grandfather, which is pretty cute. I guess the weird thing for me is that Sasha doesn't seem like a person. She has her grandfather who is sweet, and whom she loves. Her parents died when she was young (I suppose I should feel sympathy, but this is too common in YA) and she likes books. She's supposed to be sympathetic but her character doesn't really come to life.
Thomas is very similar. I like him more than Sasha, but he didn't endear himself to me. He's a guy that moved up the soldier's ranks pretty quickly. He has integrity, and he's good, but reserved due to a terrible upbringing. He's someone Sasha shouldn't be with but they can't help but fall for each other... I can't help but think that the believability is lacking. He's a nice guy and stuff but what makes him fall for Sasha? The romance was a plot I was completely apathetic towards. I skimmed through some of the kissing scenes because I honestly didn't get into the story.
I think I've been pretty lukewarm in my description of Tandem, and that's how I feel about the book. It starts off with some action and promise, and then it's really slow as Sasha begins to adapt to taking over Julianna's life. There were some cool bits with Sasha wondering if she was losing herself because almost no one knew who she was, and I was really excited about that bit, but it got swept under the rug. Tandem has a lot of things: a romance, action, fantasy, but I don't think it manages to pull them off impressively.
I guess that's my thing: Tandem is okay. At its core, it's a fascinating story. The plot was exciting and the politics of the war, the different world's, and the predicament the book ends in, all of that was fascinating. Tandem just wasn't a story that captured my attention too well, and it felt very slow as well. I wouldn't have minded if there was much more action and actual stuff happening. I think the real kicker is that I totally plan to read the sequel. The ending of the story was interesting and I think (or hope) that Tandem is heading in the right direction. Tandem set up a foundation. It took a really long time, but the foundation is set. Now I'm really hoping that Tether takes the next step and the story really begins to shine.
So Tandem is probably a two star book, because I thought it was an average read, but I would say it's definitely on the higher scale of two stars. If I still gave half stars, Tandem would get them. But, I don't, so 2 stars it is.