by Jen Brooks
To be published on April 28, 2015
by Simon & Schuster
Source: eARC for review
Synopsis from Goodreads: Sometimes Jonathan Aubrey wishes he could just disappear. And as luck—or fate—would have it, he can. Ever since coming out of a coma as a kid, he has been able to create alternate worlds. Worlds where he is a superhero, or a ladies’ man, or simply a better version of himself. That’s the world he’s been escaping to most since sophomore year, a world where he has everything he doesn’t have in real life: friends, a place of honor on the track team, passing grades, and most importantly, Kylie Simms as his girlfriend. But when Jonathan confuses his worlds senior year and tries to kiss the real Kylie Simms, everything unravels. The real Kylie actually notices Jonathan…and begins obsessing over him. The fantasy version of Kylie struggles to love Jonathan as she was created to do, and the consequences are disastrous. As his worlds collide, Jonathan must confront the truth of his power and figure out where he actually belongs—before he loses both Kylies forever.
My take: I will admit to being a little wary of parallel universe books. For me, they fall into a "nonlinear narrative" category that also includes time travel books and books with timelines that jump forward and back. When stories like this force me to repeatedly figure out where and when I am, I often feel pulled out of the narrative.
I'm happy to say I didn't have that problem with In a World Just Right. I was never confused about which world I was in, and that let me settle into the story. Jonathan is such a sympathetic character. After a terrible tragedy, he has the power to create alternate worlds -- and he does. He spends much of his time in a parallel world in which he's completely different: a good student, a talented athlete, and the boyfriend of the girl of his dreams, Kylie Simms.
But one day, Jonathan slips. He forgets which world he's in and tries to kiss Kylie, who in the real world barely seems to know he exists. After that, things start to crumble a little. The Kylie he created, the one who loves him, starts to seem less real, and he begins to wonder if he might be able to connect with the real Kylie. That is, if his messing with space and time doesn't just mess up everything for good.
Books like this are often heavy on science-based explanations, but I liked the fact that this book doesn't spend much time trying to explain how the two worlds came to be. To me, In a World Just Right was more of a grief book and a romance, with an interesting dose of philosophy. The writing was good. The romance reminded me a little of the Pygmalion and Galatea story. The ending, while a little too neat for me -- I'm weird! -- will please most readers just fine.
If you're looking for something a little different to try, definitely check this book out. I'll be giving away an ARC on Freebie Friday this week, so if you're interested, be sure to stop by!