We first heard about “Tandem” at BEA during the YA Buzz Panel presentations, and it sounded so interesting that when Random House was ready to promote it this fall, I *had* to get it for our contributors to check out; everyone loved the parallel lives plot and is ready to read the sequel. Here’s to finding a great new series.
Many thanks to Random House for providing us each with a copy of the book to review.
Publisher: Random House | 428 pages | Oct. 8, 2013 | Buy it
You. Your best friend. Every person you know.
Many worlds. Many lives–infinite possibilities.
Welcome to the multiverse.
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.
Reader Average: A-
Emily graded the book an A
Tandem by Anna Jarzab was an amazing book. It’s about a girl named Sasha Lawson who, on her prom night is thrown through the tandem-along with her prom date who is not who he says he is- into a different universe called Aurora where the Northern Lights shine bright not just up North but everywhere. In Aurora Sasha is expected to live the life of their princess Juliana who has disappeared. Now one might be asking, “Why Sasha? Why not someone else?” Well, here’s the catch. Sasha is Juliana’s analog. “What’s an analog,” one might ask. You’ll just have to read the book to find out. While in Aurora, Sasha finds herself confronting some of her biggest challenges yet.
In the beginning of the book it’s very fast paced, almost to the point of confusion. Then Ms. Jarzab clears everything up right before confusion set in. A little farther into the book, as Sasha goes through the struggle of understanding everything that has happened and everything she will be expected to do, it seems as if the author was stuck for a way to make one thought flow into the next and it becomes a little repetitive. This does not last for long however because soon Sasha begins her real journey. As for the whole body of the book, I have no complaints. It kept a steady pace and my attention. Near the end however, it got a little hard to keep up with. There were quite a few different story lines going on at one time therefore creating confusion as to which story you were following at any particular moment. Ms. Jarzab soon brings all of those story lines together with an incredible cliff hanger ending.
As a whole I loved Tandem. I’m so happy that this is only book one of a trilogy. I cannot wait for the next two books to come out. You better bet I will be on the edge of my seat reading about what kind of adventures Sasha embarks on next.
Cara graded the book an A-
Scientists have pondered the theory of alternate universes for years. Maybe one day, we’ll have an answer to whether they are real or not but for now they are the topic of frequent creative speculation. They have been featured in many novels and essays over the years, but they are not (as yet) a well worn subject in YA literature. In an ocean of dystopian and paranormal romances, Tandem is refreshing for that singularity.
Sasha is your average everyday girl living a fairly unremarkable life until she is lifted out of it and thrust into the center of a geopolitical intrigue with life and death consequences. From the beginning, I was drawn into Sasha’s story and while I was not completely caught off guard by the twists, they were surprising enough that I eagerly turned the pages anxious to find out what happened next. I’ve been underwhelmed by a great many YA series, so much so that I’ve grown cantankerous when I discover a book is part of a series. But I am genuinely excited to find out what turns Sasha’s life will take next.
Cassie graded the book an A-
I’m a sucker for a good parallel universe story, so right away, this novel had a lot going for it. In a YA market so flooded right now with fantasy dystopias, this one really stands out by taking a more original approach. I love that we get to explore a ‘what if’ America rather than a ‘distant future’ America, and while we did have the seemingly obligatory love triangle, I do appreciate that it was resolved really rather early on and that Jarzab didn’t string us along with “Which boy will she choose???” as a way to add tension to the story. She made it less about the romance than the situation, and neither male counterpart got villainized, which I appreciate hugely.
But I think what really won me over was how perfectly this novel balanced science fiction and fantasy. It truly fits both genres in a way very few novels ever do. We’re reading about princes and princesses side by side with theoretical physics, and neither felt forced or out of place.
A few of the conflict elements and the big ‘twist’ at the end may have been a bit easy to predict, but I was enjoying the story enough that I didn’t care. I loved Sasha and Thomas, I appreciated how complex a character Juliana was, and I am anxious to learn more about Granddad and the King and the General. Is the sequel ready yet?
Keely graded the book an A-
Ever wanted a book that was a blend of Princes Diaries and a dystopian sci-fi? This is the book. There is royalty, money, subterfuge, cutting edge science, a nutty professor, an alternate earth and of course, the dashing emotionally torn hero.
The plot isn’t super new – alternate universes are used as a device frequently, but the story is engaging enough that I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. In fact, when I got about a ¼ of the way through the book I thought that it would be something my daughter would enjoy. She devoured it in two days and is eagerly awaiting the second installment.
Sasha, our heroine, is thrown into a life that is tied to hers by a cosmic thread and yet it is in no way her own. This new reality is in stark contrast to everything she’s ever known except in her dreams. Her dreamy crush turns out to not be who she thinks he is and she’s forced to trust him with her life in circumstances that put her life in imminent danger. Sasha struggles a lot with her new life and she does get overly emotional a lot, but the plot is engaging enough that it kept me engaged and my daughter didn’t seem to mind the weepy scenes at all.
The romance between Sasha and Thomas is delightfully subtle. I was so pleasantly surprised by this aspect of the novel. No instant all-consuming love and adoration here – just a gentle nudge toward romance that made it appropriate for younger readers and definitely more “real” that the fall in love quick theme that so many books in the YA genre use.
Tandem is an ideal vacation/holiday time read. The story is engaging, the characters are interesting and the plot is appealing and moves at pace that fit the story being told. I liked the fact that I felt safe giving it to my middle school daughter to read and we both had fun discussing it after she was done. The violence is minimal and the book isn’t nearly as dark and foreboding as other dystopian/sci-fi reads and the romance is definitely on the light side. All together it was an enjoyable light read and my daughter and I both will look forward to the next installment.
Melanie graded the book a B+
In the book, Tandem, from the Many Worlds trilogy by Anna Jarzab, Sasha has spent the majority of her life in the care of her grandfather following the death of her parents in a car accident. After the night of her senior prom, she wakes up only to discover that she has been brought to an alternate universe, one where her “analog,” the girl who looks exactly like her, is actually a princess who has gone missing. In the hopes of preventing complete political upheaval, a select few members of the government have come up with the plan to use Sasha to keep people from suspecting the princess is missing. As Sasha learns about life in the alternate universe, she finds herself imagining how life might have been different if some key life events had not transpired.
I try to teach my kids not to dwell on what could of or should have happened if different choices had been made. Since the past can’t be changed, we need to focus on the here and now and make decisions now for a better future.
While I think this is the best practice overall, there are definitely days where it is hard not to wonder what might have been… While some of the prose is excessively descriptive, overall the premise was intriguing and I’m looking forward to the next two books in the series.
To win a copy, enter our giveaway below!