Dissonance by Erica O'Rourke: A Review

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Hardcover, 484 pages
Published July 22nd 2014 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher

A small confession: Dissonance has been languishing on my to-read pile for a long while simply because I read a rather unflattering review of it and lost all interest in it. However, since I had requested it, I felt that I ought to give it a try and I am so glad I did because I ended up enjoying the novel quite a bit.

Usually, multiverse novels (I will elaborate on this term in a little bit) feel like a lot of hot air: there is exponential buildup to the multiverse without any payoff in the end.

Multiverse novels are those concerned with the multiverse theory and usually find different creation stories for them. Dissonance explains multiverses as the result of choices. Every time a person chooses choice a instead of choice b, a different universe is created where the person chose choice b. As you can expect, multiverses are universal but the primary universe (of which all others are mere echoes) is just one. Del, the protagonist of the novel, is a Walker which means she has the hereditary ability to move through different universes. The Walker gene is rare and not common or even esoteric knowledge, that is, very people know about the multiverses and that Walkers exist. Walkers don’t have echoes of themselves in the multiverses; they only exist in the primary world though the people who know them in the primary world also know them in the other multiverses. Does this sound complicated? Because it is and I am not doing too good a job of explaining it.

The conflict in the novel arises when Del comes across the echo of a boy she has a crush on in a different universe (other than the Primary). Walkers root out the dissonances in the vast web of multiverses. If the universe is discordant they are destroyed or ended. Walkers have the ability to do that. Anyway, Del encounters the echo of the boy she has a crush on, her sister (also a Walker) finds her there, Del destroys the world accidentally but not before this boy asks her out on a date: something which he has never done in the primary world.

Her destroying the world is a serious refraction and the consequences are harsh as the panel of leaders of the Walkers makes apparent to Del when they suspend her from Walker classes and forbid her from “Walking” without a chaperon, either her parents, sister or grandfather.

Del begins to see her crush in each of the worlds she visits and her relationship with him in the primary world takes a turn for the better when they are assigned to do a group project together (also known as the oldest lit device in the world to get two high school kids together).

I liked this novel. It’s smart; the author has done her research on multiverses and her theories are logical and interesting. She managed to convince me of the logic of the world she has created and that’s all I needed. The internal conflicts are believable: Del’s resentment of her parents obvious bias toward her sister and her love for her grandfather who has been heartbroken ever since his wife, also a Walker, went on a Walk and didn’t return.

I even liked the romance: it was intense but not overwhelming or melodramatic. You guys all know that I am a hard sell where romance is concerned. I appreciated the exploration of the relationship between the two characters. I also appreciated that though there was a love triangle, Del is firm about who she is in love with. Just because a nice guy likes you does not mean you have to like him back.

If you are looking for a fast paced, entertaining YA novel and don’t mind doing some mind acrobatics, this one may be right up your alley.