Review: The Thirteenth World by A.N. Willis

Series: The Corridor #2

the thirteenth world -AN willisTime is running out for Stel Alaster.

The Corridor, the only portal between First and Second Earth, is failing and the barriers between all twelve worlds are thinning.

Using her unique ability to travel through the multiverse, Stel sets out to save the Corridor . . . and ends up discovering a mysterious new world.

In the sequel to The Corridor, will the thirteenth world hold the key to the Corridor’s secrets?

Or will the portal implode and take every last universe down with it?

3.5 Drink Me Potions

Thank you Alloy Entertainment for this copy in exchange for an honest review

**The Thirteenth World comes out on September 29th!**

It began a few weeks after the cliffhanger of The Corridor left us. And my, could I say that the cliffhanger had me itching to get my hands on this sequel so much faster??

Anyway, I have a lot less complaints about this one. For once, the sequel may have surpassed its predecessor, which is rather high praise coming from me.

From book one, you would know that all is NOT happy and well on First Earth where Stel and most of her friends were from. The Corridor is acting up and is even MORE unstable than before, if that’s possible. And now? She was separated from everyone she loved and her portal wasn’t working. Talk about jumping into serious stuff immediately.

If you read my review for The Corridor, you’d know just how much I wanted to punch a ton of the characters. My despise for Dr. Tabor, aka the worst family friend EVER, literally made me wanna lock her up somewhere to get a taste of her own medicine. She did not win any points with me, as I suppose that wasn’t the plan.

However, to my surprise, my huge dislike for Stel’s brother Justin has actually faded. I know, I know. He redeemed himself in my eyes, although I truly hadn’t wanted that to happen after all he did. His character really grew and I could understand a little on why he did what he did. I’ll let you judge for yourself whether he was worth redeeming.

Justin may have outgrew his asshole-ness, and so it also seemed that Stel’s old bestie Lissa didn’t suck as much either. She was truly helpful when it came to controlling Overprotective Brother Syndrome, and I guess what she did at the end of The Corridor was somewhat redeeming too.

“My brother had been shocked into silence when Cohl and I came home earlier…Unfortunately, the silence hadn’t lasted long.
‘He’s too old for you. Plus, I don’t like his attitude. And that
‘You sound like an old man right now…Can we please not have this conversation? I’m leaving in twenty minutes.’…
Lissa took one look at me and my brother, and swooped in between us. ‘Justin! I was hoping to find you. I need your help, um…lifting something very heavy.’
‘Oh?’ Justin gave me another glare, but his attention was rapidly moving to Lissa’s.
‘Yep. Very, very heavy. I know you’re the
only guy around here who could lift it.’
Justin pushed back his shoulders, and crossed his arms. Which just so happened to make his biceps bulge. ‘I’ll take care of it for you.'”

I don’t know what it was about this book, but everyone that was pure AWFUL last time around was just….nicer? I guess the potential destruction of your life as you knew it could do that to you…

Stel’s identity crisis in this novel was hugely focused. What is she? Why could she do what she could do? And now everyone was counting on her to save the entire multiverse. Talk about big responsibilities.

She faced a lot of conflict about where she came from, and her actual birth heritage. Plus, did people see her for who she was, or just that girl with the super-portal-making powers? Was that all she summed up to now? It was nice to see some depth to the story, beyond the sci-fi/dystopian feel of the plot.

Likewise, The Thirteenth World wasn’t just great on character growth, but also more action-packed. Come on, the whole multiverse is coming to chaos and potential implosion of all the worlds. That’s crazy stuff. Sure, the astrophysics or pseudo-physics (I wouldn’t know if half of that stuff was true or made sense…) flew beyond me, but it sure was fascinating to hear how their ragtag group was gonna prevent such chaotic consequences from happening.

And more WORLDS! Who wouldn’t love visiting another world that oddly seemed like yours but isn’t? It’s just a shame that the world-building took a backseat in this sequel as there was more focus on the Corridor and fixing it. I would’ve loved to have known a little more backstory into one of the new Earths that was visited here.

And before you all berate me for this long review without talking about it….I will admit that Cohl has grown on me too. See? What IS with this book and redeeming characters? I didn’t feel the chemistry there with him in the last book. Hello? He was a TOTAL ASSHOLE to Stel in the beginning. Rude, much? And then you tell me you grew feelings for her? Uh, NOT buying it.

Anyway, that was in the past. Their romance and the predicament of being from two different universes really stresses the LONG in long-distance romance. I loved that beyond having those dopey “I-love-you-and-I-miss-you” kinda conversations, there was a level of friendship that felt lacking previously.

“Cohl said, ‘We’ll have to try somewhere else. One of the other Earths we’ve never visited. What do you think?’
‘I think your plan is perfect. And that you’re amazing.’
‘Anything else? Don’t stop now, this is just getting good.’
I inhaled deeply. ‘You smell pretty nice, too. Don’t let it go to your head.’
‘Too late.'”

Their love felt more real too. And in one scene, the writing was superbly touching. And so true. It described how real love should be like, and in that moment, I knew their love had won me over (’cause the writing didn’t make me wanna gag instead).

“We stayed there in the kitchen until almost midnight. We didn’t talk, didn’t even kiss, just held each other…..We’d said the words – that we loved each other – but that wasn’t really how I knew it was real. It was in the pauses, in this quiet moment when words had failed us. A touch, a look…It was the fierce ache around my heart, the stiffness in my lungs. It was being together until the very last priceless second.”

I’m assuming this is the last book of the series, although I had initially thought it’d be a trilogy. I will say that it won’t let you down. It wrapped things up nicely, but not too nicely like a stiff present. My only disappointment is that there won’t be any more exploration of the other 12 worlds. *secretly hopes for a spin-off book…*

Overall Recommendation:
The Thirteenth World definitely holds more grit and action, now that all the introductions to this slightly-futuristic-yet-not-too-far-off-into-the-future kinda world has been made. A ton of characters that I previously hated with a passion has surprisingly redeemed themselves without making me want to gauge out my eyes for reading it. And beyond character growth, it still held intrigue when dealing with multiverses, potential implosion of the worlds and, of course, the intricate workings of portal travelling. I think it summed up all the questions you ever asked and more. Definitely give it a shot.

Note: All quotes taken from this arc are subject to change


Review: The Corridor by A.N. Willis

Series: The Corridor Series #1

the corridor -a.n. willisInfinite worlds. Endless possibilities . . .

Stel Alaster has never known life without the Corridor. It appeared suddenly seventeen years ago, the only portal to a parallel version of our world—Second Earth. Everyone on First Earth fears Mods, the genetically modified Second Earthers who built the Corridor. They are too smart, too strong, and have powers that can’t be controlled. Any Mod found on First Earth is branded, then detained in the Corridor’s research labs.

Only Stel has a dangerous secret. She has a power, too: She can open a portal to Second Earth . . . and several other parallel universes she’s discovered. If anyone ever finds out, she’ll be imprisoned, no better than a Mod or common lab rat.

But when the Corridor starts to fail, emitting erratic bursts of energy that could destroy First Earth, Stel must risk everything to save the people and world she loves. With the help of an escaped Mod and an infuriatingly arrogant boy from a third universe, Stel sets out to unravel the mysteries of the Corridor and stabilize it before it’s too late. The fate of every world lies in the balance. . . .

3.5 Drink Me Potions

Thank you Netgalley and Alloy Entertainment for the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

In some ways, The Corridor surprised my expectations from the synopsis. First, it’s only set in 2032? Really? Portals exist so close in the future? I was really thinking more like…at least a century past that. Also, having just read a recent novel on parallel worlds (Parallel by Lauren Miller), I wasn’t quite as mindblown by the concept in this book. Let me break down my thoughts into simpler categories.

The concept and overall world building
I’m a little picky when it comes to world building, especially for dystopian worlds where things can get a little confusing. And in this case, I’m still scratching my head at some things that were literally dumped on my head at the very beginning of the book.

#1. I’m still a little lost as to what exactly the Corridor Facility entails. It has a mall and residence buildings? But also house the lab and offices that look after this portal to Second Earth known as The Corridor? Uh, so it doesn’t just relate to the Corridor itself? Is it like some small community area that’s fenced in? Then why do they take a light rail train to get to some Peak to view the Corridor? So confused…

#2. How BIG is this Corridor? I know it has lights shining through and metal framework to hold it up. But I’m imagining a gigantic rectangular…doorway thing. I don’t know about you, but that’s the best my imagination could come up with

#3. Uh, I’m guessing their technology advanced only in a minor way from ours? A Panel seems to be akin to a tablet/iPad? But who knows ’cause we sure don’t get much of an explanation. And IF it’s practically a tablet – why the heck do we not just call it that?

Anyway, besides confusion at certain things to orient myself in this moderately futuristic setting, the world building wasn’t really solid enough. Besides the presence of the Corridor and genetically modified people (aka Mods) that came from Second Earth, it almost seemed like every day life as it is now. I guess 17 years can only change a community so much, huh?

The concept, however, was intriguing. Maybe the setting wasn’t as well thought out or anything, but the premise was still compelling to continue. With our protagonist Estele (aka Stel) immediately gaining her freaky portal-making powers right from the get-go, the plot is boom-boom-boom. She finds herself in another world that’s separate from First and Second Earth. Uh oh. How many parallel universes are in this book? The pace picks itself up after a while, though I will admit it was a little slow at first while Estele was trying to figure out what to do with her freaky new secret.

The characters
Stel made a decent protagonist, although she initially annoyed me. She did nothing about her situation, going about life as if everything was still normal for her. She entrusted this secret to no one, not even her bestie for life Lissa. So much for besties for life. And not even to her brother Justin, although he never seemed like a viable person to trust such a harsh secret to. She eventually gained some guts and I admire her spunk to stick up for her father, a scientist who had taken a reputation beating. Scratch that. A reputation that turned him into someone people didn’t believe anymore. I was glad she wasn’t going to let people attack her dad like that, even the criticism coming from his own son.

Speaking of Justin. Urgh. That boy. I want to strangle him. From the start, he was distant and only mildly polite to their father. He took the side of the one person solely responsible for his dad’s reputation downfall, who also happened to have usurped him from the prominent position as Chair of the research facility. Like, WHY? How could he do such a thing to his own DAD? Especially when it’s clear he was the victim. Anyway. I don’t know if the author meant for us to hate him so much, but I’m not sure I want him to be redeemed so easily.

And relating to that, the male protagonist was kind of an ass too. Initially at least. Why do all the boys seem so rude? When I first met Cohl, I honestly thought his much nicer, friendlier and overall cool guy of a brother was gonna be the guy Stel falls for. Talk about a strange introduction. Am I supposed to like him afterwards? He spied on his brother and Stel, for goodness sakes. I’m not sure I fully understand his 180 change in attitude towards her when he seemed to honestly despise her very presence at their first meeting. This makes for a weird romantic chemistry between them. Not sure I fully believe in it.

However, thankfully, Willis keeps the romance limited so it doesn’t take away from the central plot focused on the Corridor and its possible horrendous side effects for the people on First Earth. For that reason, the latter third of the book really built up and left me wishing there was more after the last words had come and gone. The Corridor may be many things, but it took the idea of parallel worlds in a different direction than most people may initially consider, and the hint of conspiracy tied it all into a book that is definitely worth checking out at least.

Overall Recommendation:
Although the world building wasn’t particularly strong for a dystopian novel, the concept behind the Corridor and travelling between parallel worlds made it an interesting read. Mildly well-paced, Stel makes for a headstrong protagonist as she steps into her role and accepts the abilities she received. Other male characters were not as fun to read about and romance is far and few between, but The Corridor holds enough substance to carry through a worthwhile read even with these minor annoyances.


Review: Parallel by Lauren Miller

parallel -lauren millerYour plan changes. Your destiny doesn’t.

Abby Barnes had a plan. The Plan. She’d go to Northwestern, major in journalism, and land a job at a national newspaper, all before she turned twenty-two. But one tiny choice—taking a drama class her senior year of high school—changed all that. Now, on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Abby is stuck on a Hollywood movie set, miles from where she wants to be, wishing she could rewind her life. The next morning, she’s in a dorm room at Yale, with no memory of how she got there. Overnight, it’s as if her past has been rewritten.

With the help of Caitlin, her science-savvy BFF, Abby discovers that this new reality is the result of a cosmic collision of parallel universes that has Abby living an alternate version of her life. And not only that: Abby’s life changes every time her parallel self makes a new choice. Meanwhile, her parallel is living out Abby’s senior year of high school and falling for someone Abby’s never even met.

As she struggles to navigate her ever-shifting existence, Abby must let go of the Plan and learn to focus on the present, without losing sight of who she is, the boy who might just be her soul mate, and the destiny that’s finally within reach.

4 Drink Me Potions

We are more real than real, said Abby to Josh, a guy whom she only met through her parallel self taking a different path than she did.

Alternate realities and parallel worlds can be so complex, but Lauren Miller did a fantastic job with this novel. Parallel is just indescribable, in the best way possible.

You ever wonder what it would have been like if you’d just done something differently? For Abby, the decision that set her on two different trajectories in life between her parallel worlds came down to this: taking drama or an astronomy class as her last-minute elective in her senior year.

Parallel alternates between Abby’s senior year, following her parallel self experiencing a different set of events after having to take astronomy class instead of drama, in which that path would have led her to becoming the Hollywood actress she remembered she was from her “real” life, and one year later where she finds herself in Yale. Now, if that doesn’t get complicated enough, every time her parallel self makes a different decision, it could cause HUGE rippling effects onto the reality that Abby is now living with as a student at Yale.

This novel explored how even the smallest decisions or events could have led to almost-lost friendships, or could-have-been moments with someone special. Not only that, but it looked into fate (we have a reason for living) and ultimately, what our destiny is even with the ever-changing realities.

I could gush forever, but Miller’s debut novel was absolutely fantastic. With Abby as an amazing protagonist trying to remain “independent” of her parallel self while dealing with a setting that could change at any moment, it made living the day to day all the more important. The conclusion of the novel was stunning, in the sense that it also covered the topic of soulmates. What if her parallel met someone who could love her in a way no one else can, but Abby in her other life chose differently and thus hadn’t met him? What then?

The answer was simple. Our path or trajectory in life may change based on our day-to-day decisions, but something destined in our lives will find its way. And that’s exactly what happened in Parallel. The ending was perfect. Sure, it was a little bittersweet, but it was still so romantic. Being able to find that someone for you even when it first came through as only memories from your parallel self, that speaks of a love that’s more real than real, with real suggesting it stays true even across realities.

At the end of the day, this novel handled everything amazingly. It was clever. Wildly imaginative and creative. I will end off with one of my favourite quotes from the book.

“Abigail Hannah Barnes,
You changed my life. A year ago today, when you walked into it. ‘Are you here by fate or choice?’ you asked me. I said choice. Now I know better.

Overall Recommendation:
Parallel was an absolute fantastic read. It explored so many philosophical elements, from our changing fate when making decisions in life to the ever-present destiny that we each are supposed to hold and possibly that one person (our soulmate) that lies somewhere in our world to find. It asked questions that made you really think. What if you had done something differently? Would your life have changed in ways you could never imagine? Could you miss out on meeting your soulmate if you made the wrong decision? All in all, this novel was deeply romantic and thoroughly explored elements we can all relate to. A definite page-turner & 100% recommended