A Million Worlds With You by Claudia Gray | Mini-Review (& A Note on Consent and Rape)

January 16, 2017 / 4 Comments / Mini-Reviews, Review

A Million Worlds With You by Claudia Gray | Mini-Review (& A Note on Consent and Rape)A Million Worlds with You

Author: Claudia Gray
Find the author: Website, Twitter, Goodreads
Also by this author: A Thousand Pieces of You, Ten Thousand Skies Above You
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication date: November 1st 2016
Source: Purchased at Chapters Indigo
Format: Hardcover
My rating:
Buy It: Indigo.ca | Amazon.com | The Book Depository | iBooks | Google Books | Audible

The fate of the multiverse rests in Marguerite’s hands in the final installment of the Firebird trilogy by New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray.
Ever since she used the Firebird, her parent’s invention, to cross through alternate dimensions, Marguerite has been at the center of a cross-dimensional feud. Now she has learned that the evil Triad Corporation plans to destroy hundreds of universes, using their ultimate weapon: another dimension’s Marguerite who is wicked, psychologically twisted, and always one step ahead.
Even though her boyfriend Paul has always been at Marguerite’s side, the Triad’s last attack has left him a changed man, and he may never be the same again. Marguerite alone must stop Triad and prevent the destruction of the multiverse. It’s a battle of the Marguerites . . . and only one can win.
In the epic conclusion to the sweeping series that kicked off with A Thousand Pieces of You, fate and family will be questioned, loves will be won and lost, and the multiverse will be forever changed.

Mini-Review: A Million Worlds With You by Claudia Gray

Spoilers for the first two books, but not for this one.

Easily the most action-packed of this trilogy, A Million Worlds with You takes us on a roller-coaster of emotion and movement. After discovering Triad and Home Office’s plans for destruction of many worlds in order to save a loved one, Marguerite is in a race with the most evil version of herself – the Wicked Marguerite, a girl whose “art” is sadism and destruction. Chasing her from parallel universe to parallel universe in order to try to prevent the loss of millions of lives brings Marguerite to a ton of realizations. Along with her for the ride are her true love, Paul; friend-who-has-feelings-for-her Theo; and her physicist parents Sophia and Henry.

What begins as a dizzying adventure, though, quickly becomes a bit mundane and a little frustrating. Unlike the first two books, you never really get a chance to soak in each of the universes before Marguerite has to jump out again. It worked for the plot, but started to get a little old and ended up feeling forced. It took me until about halfway through the book before I started to really feel invested. I’m a character girl at heart and as much as I like action, I need that character focus to ground me. Luckily, Gray provides this grounding midway through the book through Paul, who is getting over being splintered, and Marguerite’s realization that he’s not quite the same guy anymore.

The back half of the book maintained its momentum with some complex (albeit convenient) science, higher stakes, and some truly glorious moments. I can’t talk about a lot of them, but hint if you need it: View Spoiler »). As always, I was wowed by Claudia Gray’s plotting and world-building. She ties together all the threads of what we’ve learned through this series, in philosophy and romance, family and science. I was impressed with some of the thoughtful writing in this book.

Here’s my favorite passage:

“We both believed in destiny as a kind of guarantee–a promise from the cosmos that we would have our time together in virtually every world we shared. But now I see that believing only in destiny means giving up responsibility. We fooled ourselves into thinking happiness was a gift we would be given time and time again. It’s so much scarier to admit that our lives are in our own flawed, fallible hands. Our futures are not kept safe for us in the cradle of fate. We have to hack them out of stone, dig them out of mud, and build them one messy, imperfect day at a time.”


(spoilers for whole series, light spoilers for A Million Worlds With You)A Thousand Pieces of You book cover Claudia Gray

So I wrote this review before hearing about the hidden consent/rape issues in A Thousand Pieces of You. This was a huge revelation for me, and I appreciate my friend Joey @ Thoughts and Afterthoughts pointing out this post to me, and Liam @ Hey Ashers for being brave enough to put it out there. After reading Liam’s post, I can’t review A Million Worlds With You without mentioning one part of this book.

To summarize, Liam argues that there is an inherent consent issue with the concept of traveling through parallel universes and taking over the consciousness of your other selves. It’s a violation to begin with, but Marguerite further violates and takes away consent when she sleeps with Lieutenant Markov in book 1 while in the body of the Grand Duchess Margarita. MC Marguerite feels bad about it, but never fully understands the depth of her violation. Even when we find out in book 2 that the Grand Duchess is now pregnant with Lieutenant Markov’s baby, she still doesn’t really understand that she took away agency, nay, allowed the Grand Duchess to be raped by Lieutenant Markov. Liam has examples if you want to check out the full argument.

Cover of Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia GrayGray and the book romanticize this scene, and I feel embarrassed that I didn’t see it before. Part of the reason I think I (and others) didn’t see it is because it’s not clear in A Thousand Pieces of You whether or not the Marguerites from each universe are all the same, or different entities. However, Gray makes it very clear in Ten Thousand Skies Above You and A Million Worlds With You that each of the parallel universe Marguerites are their own entities. Even though the Marguerites will remember what happens, that doesn’t excuse MC Marguerite (or anyone else) from making choices based on their bodies for them.

Based on this argument (I feel like I have to bring this up because Liam hasn’t finished the books yet), A Million Worlds With You excusea MC Marguerite’s behavior in two ways (spoilers from here on in):View Spoiler »

I’m frustrated and disappointed that I didn’t see this right away, and I want to state that I don’t at all condone Marguerite’s actions, even though I enjoyed these books. Does it change the way I feel about the series? A little. I wish that Gray hadn’t continued along this line. I understand that she wanted MC Marguerite to feel the full consequences of her actions in each body, but I wish she had taken it one step further and called out the consent and rape issue. View Spoiler »

Do I think this series is harmful? Only if you romanticize these scenes. I think it’s important to be aware of this situation, and important to keep an eye out for it. There is no shame in saying “yeah, I liked this book, it was enjoyable, but there are some major issues with it.” The Bookavid’s post on How to Enjoy A Problematic Book and Not Be a Jerk About It is a godsend (thank you!) if you’re feeling weird about this series. It helped me a lot in writing this review and feeling okay about liking this series.

The Final Word:

Despite many issues I had with this book, I do feel that in A Million Worlds With You, Gray has pulled off a satisfying an ending. While there are some issues of consent in the inherent concept of the story, moments that lagged, and a little bit of convenience in the science, I enjoyed A Million Worlds With You. I do feel like the whole Firebird trilogy is worth reading as long as you read it critically and with the understanding that this is entertainment only.

A MILLION WORLDS WITH YOU is out now in the bookstores. Have you read it, or any of the other books in the Firebird trilogy? Did you like it? Did you notice any issues with consent? Would love hear from people on this as I’m very conflicted. This is a safe space to discuss; I will make sure that every respectful comment is taken into consideration (and harmful, trolling, bullying ones removed). 

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4 responses to “A Million Worlds With You by Claudia Gray | Mini-Review (& A Note on Consent and Rape)

  1. I haven’t read this series, and wasn’t really interested it it to begin with, but this review is so incredibly thoughtful. As readers, we do get caught up in the story of a book, and don’t always take the time to read criticially (and honestly I did so much of that in university that I do enjoy turning that part of my brain off for a while!). I have to check out the link that you shared about liking problematic books, but it also reminds me of Estelle’s review of The Love That Split the World. I really enjoyed reading it last year, and hadn’t heard about all the historical inaccuracies until Estelle’s review linked to another article. But as she pointed out, and I felt too, we could still appreciate the beautiful writing and unique premise of the book even if it could have been better researched. I like how you’ve shed light on the problematic aspects, but also still enjoyed the series <3

  2. I noticed it and rated it two stars mainly because of that. It was really disgusting and unnecessary. I felt gross reading that particular scene because I knew that wasn’t /her/ body. And that’s why I refuse to touch the other books.

    • Yup, you’re smarter than me. I don’t know how to feel about this now. I’m annoyed because she’s made the issue such a part of the storyline that I don’t think it can be removed from future printings. UGH.

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