A THOUSAND PIECES OF YOU (Firebird #1) - by Claudia Gray

Published: 2014 - by HarperTeen.
Pages: 368.
Genres: Young adult / romance / science fiction / fantasy
Triggers/Content Advisory: There's a non-graphic sex scene. There's also a rape scene that is not explicitly depicted as rape, when in actual fact it is.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Library.
Cloud Atlas meets Orphan Black in this epic dimension-bending trilogy by New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray about a girl who must chase her father's killer through multiple dimensions. Marguerite Caine's physicist parents are known for their groundbreaking achievements. Their most astonishing invention, called the Firebird, allows users to jump into multiple universes—and promises to revolutionize science forever. But then Marguerite's father is murdered, and the killer—her parent's handsome, enigmatic assistant Paul— escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him. Marguerite refuses to let the man who destroyed her family go free. So she races after Paul through different universes, always leaping into another version of herself. But she also meets alternate versions of the people she knows—including Paul, whose life entangles with hers in increasingly familiar ways. Before long she begins to question Paul's guilt—as well as her own heart. And soon she discovers the truth behind her father's death is far more sinister than she expected.

THE COVER. I unashamedly admit that I picked up this book because I loved the cover so much. Yes, I'd heard of the story on Goodreads, but the cover did it for me.
I just wish I could say that the the inside of the book was as easy to fall in love with.

I didn't hate the book, though. The writing's sharp and elegant, and I loved Gray's style. The different settings Marguerite travels to are fantastic, and I especially loved the Russian-placed scenes. But that's basically where my "likes" stop.

The story is confusing. Information keeps getting added to the details of the time travelling and its limitations, as if the author's slipping in new info as she writes, without preplanning - subtly, but still rather sloppy.  It's also very slow and boring, and the plot meanders a lot. Not to mention the hugely frustrating info dumps whenever a new setting/era is introduced: Marguerite always gets the information handed to her on a silver platter whenever she steps into a new "world"; usually through other characters' dialogue. It's unnatural.
The time travelling and jumping to different eras also gets extremely tedious after a while.

“Every form of art is another way of seeing the world. Another perspective, another window. And science –that’s the most spectacular window of all. You can see the entire universe from there.”

The characters are verging on terrible. No one is three-dimensional enough, and there's far too much telling who the characters are, instead of just letting the reader see it for themselves. Theo's the only one I like, but his arc didn't go where I was hoping it would, so I'm angry about that.
I blame Paul and Marguerite and their stupid romance.

Marguerite isn't a bad heroine, but she's very dull. She's a capable girl and can look after herself, but her development is weak and her personality almost nonexistent. Not to mention how she starts the book off with watered-down motivation that did nothing to convince me she actually wanted to find Paul and make him pay for killing her father; I wish the author had made Marguerite more convinced of Paul's guilt at the beginning, so she could at least throw herself wholeheartedly into the story and then get a terrific shock and slowly change her mind when she learns the truth. But no, instead she starts off already halfway on his side. It did not work.

Paul's an awful character. So incredibly boring and inconsistent. Blame the different bodies he inhabits and the memory loss (it makes sense when you've read the book...) if you like, but it's still annoying and hard to read.

“Now I know that grief is a whetstone that sharpens all your love, all your happiest memories, into blades that tear you apart from within.”

A huge thank you to Genni from Ready, Set, Read for directing me to THIS POST a few days ago. Until then, I had thought nothing more of a certain scene in the book: a sex scene between Paul and Marguerite while they're still in Russia. When I first read the scene, something did feel off to me, but I'm ashamed to say I didn't question it further. Thanks to the amazing post Genni pointed me to, I then saw the scene in a completely new light, and with searing clarity its atrocious subtext. Sickeningly, horrifically, it's a rape scene disguised as a "swoony, romantic" love scene. Please, please, please read THIS POST if you're considering picking up this book. Liam from Hey Ashers! explains and analyses it better than I ever could.

A Thousand Pieces of You is a slow jumble of bad plotting, predictable plot points, and weak characters and relationships. It's not badly written, but hardly the level of enjoyment, entertainment, and spellbinding romance I was expecting.


  1. Oh no!!! This book sounds like such a mess.

  2. I love the cover.. Would pick it up because of the cover as well.. Totally re-considering right now!

  3. Oooh I was looking forward to your review!! It's been a year or so since I've read this, but I agree that the characters were dull. Paul is such a standard shy, misunderstood, "bad boy". Theo was the character that had the most depth for me as well. I personally loved the family dynamic in these books, and all the flashbacks of her family were the highlights for me. I agree that it would have been better if Marguerite was fully convinced Paul was the murderer, instead of already flip-flopping. I ddin't mind the info dumps too much, but I think it's because they didn't feel like them when I was listening to the book. I'm sure if I read it in print it would have been a different experience altogether!

    Thank you so much for the shoutout, you're so kind!! <3 To be honest, I didn't catch it either! I think it's because the sex scene was presented as romantic that it's harder to catch how horrific the scene actually is. I really get riled up too when the main character acknowledges that the other Marguerite has no say in the situation, but knows she would have gone through with it. Like...no. You don't, and even if she would, it's no excuse.

    Sorry you didn't like this one too much. I am about to read the sequel, but I don't know if I'll enjoy it too much. I don't remember much about the first book except for the broad ideas.

    Great review Amy!! You're thoughts were so clear and concise! :D

    1. So true Genni :) I felt the same!

      No problem, thank YOU!
      Totally. It's awful.

      Thanks Genni :) Oh! I'd be interested to hear what you think of the sequel - I don't think I'll be reading it.

      Thank you, that means a lot!

  4. Info dumps are honestly the worst! I do think that while it makes it less burdensome to have things explained via dialogue, it's best to end up giving a few essential details of the new world and then have the rest of the aspects be revealed through the characters eyes as it goes on. Also, DANG. Just... I cannot with those kind of "romance" scenes *cough COUGH* that try to justify themselves as romance when they're really not. How sickening!

    xoxo Abigail Lennah | ups & downs

    1. They are! Yeah true.

      I KNOW!! Ugh it is!

      Thanks for the comment :)

  5. Ugh, this book sounds quite messy and complicated! I also think it's terrible that the rape scene was completely brushed over and not acknowledged for what it actually was. I really wanted to read this book because of the beautiful cover but I think I'll steer clear of it now! Wonderful review, Amy. :)

    1. It was! And completely; it's shocking.
      Thanks Kyra!

  6. This is good to know, since I've been thinking of reading more Claudia Gray, in particular this series. It does have a nice cover, but I think the slowness of the plot and the characters would irk me. Not to mention that scene you mention, which I will go read that post. Thanks for the review!

    1. Yeah, it's such a pity considering the pretty cover!
      Sure :)

  7. Oh wow I had briefly read this book, and was disturbed by the sex scene because of my personal ethics, but now I feel sick to my stomach. I definitely won't be reading the second book anytime soon I think... Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

  8. I'm sorry you didn't like this!! I read it a pretty long time ago and to be honest, didn't understand most of it, which is probably why I was so blinded by that sex scene and didn't even think twice about it! Yikes, that does sound really horrendous and complex. I do remember really liking Theo though!

    1. Thanks Emily!
      Haha same, actually! It was confusing.
      But yeah, he is really cool!

  9. Thank you for this very honest review and for linking to Hey Ashers post! I, like you, was drawn to the pretty cover but will now be avoiding the book for sure. I am so sad and annoyed that their was a rape that was romanticised SO WELL that people don't even REALISE it's rape. :(

    1. No problem!
      I KNOW! Isn't it just horrific?!
      Thanks for stopping by :)

  10. Huh... why is this packaged in the most gorgeous cover I've ever seen if it's not living up to it? That makes me sad. Great review! Probably will not read this.