Paranormal-ish Young Adult
Simon & Schuster
Available July 22nd
Source: ARC from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Delancy Sullivan has always known there’s more to reality than what people see. Every time someone makes a choice, a new, parallel world branches off from the existing one. Eating breakfast or skipping it, turning left instead of right, sneaking out instead of staying in bed ~ all of these choices create an alternate universe in which an echo self takes the road not travelled and makes the opposite decision. As a Walker, someone who can navigate between these worlds, Del’s job is to keep all of the dimensions in harmony.
Normally, Del can hear the dissonant frequency that each world emits as clear as a bell. But when a training session in an off-key world goes horribly wrong, she is forbidden from Walking by the Council. But Del’s not big on following the rules and she secretly starts to investigate these other worlds. Something strange is connecting them and it’s not just her random encounters with echo versions of the guy she likes, Simon Lane.
But Del’s decisions have unimaginable consequences and, as she begins to fall for the Echo Simons in each world, she draws closer to a truth that the Council of Walkers is trying to hide ~ a secret that threatens the fate of the entire multiverse.
Dissonance brings some interesting things to the multiverse table, focusing on a number of different worlds and how they're all interwoven instead of allowing us to watch one or two lives unfold in distinctly separate ways. As with nearly all the stories that attempt to explain the existence of parallel worlds, there are of course moments when our minds can't fully wrap around what's being described for us, but on the whole Ms. O'Rourke does a truly impressive job of explaining the specifics and terminology of Walking between the Key World and the Echoes. We're grounded in a reality we recognize–complete with fully relatable high school moments given Del attends regular school despite the paranormal aspects of her life–but beautifully threaded through the normalcy is infinite possibility, Echo upon Echo piquing our curiosity with their mere existence.
Del is the type of character that when described outside the context of her story sounds as though she would be extraordinarily frustrating, her tendency to flaunt her disregard for authority and Walk as she sees fit something that normally would cause a series of eye rolls and mournful shakes of the head. Within her world and her family life however, her occasional recklessness and desire to Walk outside the strict rules and regulations of the Consort makes sense, and while there are moments when we want her to think a touch more before acting, we also can't help but find ourselves rooting for her to show her largely disapproving family that she's more than they give her credit for.
The only minor drawback keeping Dissonance from one of those rare higher ratings is the romance between Del and Simon, a fairly typical popular boy from her school. Del's crush on him is completely understandable and one of the things about her that stretches across the barrier of fiction and yanks us into her reality, our minds instantly taking us back to our own high school selves and the crushes we had on those who seemed unattainable. The problem with their relationship as it begins to unfold is that while Del's feelings seem utterly genuine (and painful at times), Simon's are less believable, his sole interest (in all his various forms, Echo or Original) appearing to involve only getting her alone and moving their romance forward on an intimate level. When events force a change in their relationship, his focus shifts away from what Del can do for him physically and to what she can do for him as a Walker, and he never quite manages to completely convince us his feelings extend beyond simple need.
Overall however, Dissonance is the type of read that raises questions and encourages discussion, our first desire when we close the back cover to immediately hand it off to the next person so we'll have someone to talk to about everything that already happened as well as everything that could happen in future installments. We're left with Del's world in chaos, both physically and emotionally, but luckily no brutal cliffhanger is waiting to shatter our hearts at the end. Instead, we part ways with this first installment with the gift of hope clutched tight to our chests and anticipation singing in our blood as we start the countdown to book two.
This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.