The Switch by A.W. Hill, Nathanael Hill
JACOBUS ROSE is a fifteen year-old of above-average intelligence who believes—as many fifteen year-olds do—that he has a below-average life. School is populated with the usual bullies and unresponsive girls, and his parents’ marriage seems to be imploding before his eyes. ‘Maybe I was born into the wrong world,’ he thinks. Lured by his best friend, CONNOR, into a strange little house containing nothing but empty rooms and an oversized circuit breaker, he will discover that reality comes in a plural form, and that our choices create a continuous network of branching worlds, any of which is as ‘real’ as another.
A solo odyssey becomes a duo, then trio, quartet, and finally quintet, as Jacobus meets and allies with other space-time ‘travelers’ along the way: GORDON NIGHTSHADE, the veteran pilgrim and chief theorist; MOSES DeWITT, the alley cat with an old soul; JEMMA DOONE, a girl of many-worlds who becomes the main river home for Jacobus and his crew; and finally, his lost friend Connor, who just may have preferred an alternate universe to his own.
The question is: if they get home, will it be the same place they left?
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from NetGalley and Curiosity Quills Press in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I had 42 comments on this as I read it because I could not stop pointing out all its failings. The writing looked like an editor hadn’t even touched it with a 20-foot pole. The characters were flat as pancakes, the world-building was mostly a scientific, condescending talk-down… just… no?
Lets get technical here.
The writing style fluctuates between fragments and run-on sentences. The author delights in phrases like “But there’s stuff we don’t have an explanation for that will be science someday.” and “It was a perfectly reasonable question, to which I had no answer.” to get away with not explaining his own universal concepts.
There were places where there were both periods and commas. Sometimes the two were interchanged. This book definitely suffers from a lack of proper editing… to the point where I actually looked into the publisher and discovered this wasn’t self-published, it was small-published… and there was an editor because she is thanked in the acknowledgments. If she improved this book, I’d hate to see what it looked like before.
The world building.
Less went into building the individual world and more into explaining what a multiverse is. By 31% the concept of a multiverse had been explained 5 times, and after that I stopped counting. The multiverse was the only part of this book that could have interested me. … Or would have been… I watch Rick & Morty y’all – I know what a multiverse is. AND SOMEHOW this manages to get explained to me in a more condescending way than by Rick Sanchez? Someone give this guy a medal.
The only world with a bit of interest is Jemma’s beehive world, which seemed like a rip-off apocalyptic future with a German takeover (the “Vaterland” as opposed to “Vaderland”). I thought maybe we were going to get better at that point.
So we’ve got a character named Hartun who is clearly of middle eastern decent (exactitudes elude me) and who is the biggest bully. We’re got Moses from the ‘hood who drops letters in his word so’times just cuz that’s his way. We’ve got lovely Jemma who is in the story simply for Jacobus to fawn over, and Jacobus himself, whose worst, weirdest reality was when he was a redhead.
We also get to look forward to lovely phrases like “A reggae guy. Like Bob Marley. With dreadlocks and a beeg spleef, mon.” (spoken by Moses) and “He smiled, but his jaw trembled, and I knew that if Mose had been born with different pigmentation, he’d have been white as a ghost.” (describing Moses). DEAR LORD MAKE IT STOP. There’s literally nothing to be gained by this type of racial fingerprinting and it’s just plain offensive? Like… ignorantly offensive. Something your well-meaning but SUPER racist grandfather would say with a good heart and a foul mouth. STILL INEXCUSABLE.
Editor, WHERE WERE YOU.
For the cherry on the top, we’ve got Hartun in the last couple pages calling Jacobus a ‘faggot’.
I cannot in any way endorse this book.
It’s just plain embarrassing that so many red flags didn’t get taken care of in revisions. The multiverse concept isn’t very interestingly done (they run through each world, barely acknowledging it, trying to get home). I wanted to stop reading this so many times because it was actually painful, but I felt obliged to finish it since I received it free in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You wanted honest? Here’s honest.
This book needs to go back to the drawing board. It needs several more revisions to remove offensive choices and build action and interest. I’m happy for all those on Goodreads who’ve been really pleased with this book, but as someone who reads a lot and it actually quite interested in the science used here (that’s why I requested it to begin with) I am shocked at how raw and unfinished this book felt.
Plus the derogatory comments. COMPLETELY unnecessary.