An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes by Randy Ribay // Gaming and Road Trips Galore

Tuesday, 9 August 2016
An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes, by Randy Ribay
Publication: October 16, 2015, by Merit Press
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, LGBTQ
Pages: 240
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher

As their senior year approaches, four diverse friends joined by their weekly Dungeons and Dragons game struggle to figure out real life. Archie's trying to cope with the lingering effects of his parents' divorce, Mari's considering an opportunity to contact her biological mother, Dante's working up the courage to come out to his friends, and Sam's clinging to a failing relationship. The four eventually embark on a cross-country road trip in an attempt to solve--or to avoid--their problems.

Told in the narrative style of Akira Kurosawa's RASHOMAN, AN INFINITE NUMBER OF PARALLEL UNIVERSES is at turns geeky, funny, and lyrical as it tells a story about that time in life when friends need each other to become more than just people that hang out.

My Thoughts:

An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes is a lovely contemporary novel that embraces people that are currently being discriminated in the world today. It certainly embraces nerd culture, and how people can become social and talkative by finding something in the world that makes them want to speak, just as I have found blogging/reviewing as my voice being heard. Randy Ribay has written such an intriguing, fun, but realistic story with a gang of characters who each have their distinct personality that makes them, them. This is one of the better road trip novels I have read, definitely comparing to John Green's Paper Towns, except in this case, each of the characters who are tagging along on the trip are finding themselves, not just the protagonist. In fact, there really isn't one protagonist, every person—Archie, Mari, Dante and Sam—is a protagonist. Ribay focuses this novel on each character and how they develop into new people.

I received this one to review ages ago. I loved the cover from the first time I spotted it, and I just couldn't wait to pick it up and learn more about what Dungeons and Dragons is all really about, and why an ex-friend of mine really wanted to learn how to play it. Sci-fi related things like that are not really my type of activities to do, but I certainly enjoyed being tagged along as a reader and embrace the nerdiness coming out from each character in this case. I loved how there was a climax where each character found that inner peace; that was extremely important for me to find because I somehow knew that this would be the kind of book to showcase that exactly. 

This was about a heartbreak going on in a group of friends, but it secretly is actually about the development of each character after something goes wrong in each of their lives. Archie's father is gay, and he divorces his mother, which gets him depressed and feels like everything he has ever known is swept away from him. Mari's mother has cancer, and things get crazier when her mother gives her information about her real mother, since Mari was adopted. Dante has a personal struggle—he's gay and he doesn't know what to do because his strictly religious family does not approve. Sam's girlfriend breaks up with him after she moves across the country to Seattle. All together, they head on a road trip through all over the place to get to Seattle.

"She feels the centrifugal force pulling her into space. Her body rises from the ground, just barely at first, but then higher and higher. The grass she holds rips out of the ground, soil crumbling from the nests of tiny roots. She opens her hands. The grass clumps fall. Loose green blades flutter downward" (71).

As you can tell for that quote, this is such a poetic novel. Randy Ribay writes with such passion towards the topic, and I was so entertained because I loved the amount of diverse topics featured. We see discrimination, as Dante feels that people are looking at him differently because he is African American, and gay, at the same time. Then, Mari undergoes the struggle of her adoptive mother and how she doesn't know what to do with the current status of her life. Archie's father is gay, as mentioned before, and he struggles, too, knowing that his dad never really loved his mother in a real way. 

I loved Archie and Mari's relationship. There wasn't instant-love at all, and I loved how they relied on each other for personal help. Aw. THAT'S THE ROMANCE I'M LOOKING FOR. I find that we frequently are caught in romances that are too fake or too lovey-dovey, but Archie and Mari had this instant connection that I just saw as a real relationship. They didn't make out, they didn't go crazy at each other, it was just slow and beautiful, exactly in the way a bookworm like me (who does love slow-paced romance) would want something like this to become.

Road trip novels make me want to grab a map and run away. Not in a literal sense, but I just have this serious case of wanderlust that makes me want to go and find new cities, meet new people and have the time of my life. I loved reading about the different cities that the crew stopped in, especially Chicago (I love Chicago!) and the adventures they had there. You know, they took risks, made a change in their lives from the usual Dungeons and Dragons thing. 

I read this book because I wanted a similar situation to what it actually turned out to be. It was light but complex at the same time, where I was able to not make any predictions for the ending because it could turn out any way. Randy Ribay seems to have put so much effort reading into modern teenagers today and how they act, because this is the realest thing I have read for a long time. Many authors struggle to portray or write about characters who are teenagers because some of us are so different compared to teenagers of the past that it is just ruined. The book is, I mean. In this case, the characters were relatable and I couldn't stop feeling sorry for them and all of the pain that they had to suffer, internally especially. 

An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes takes contemporary fiction, mixes it with real-life issues that many teenagers today struggle with constantly, mixes it with relatable characters and situations, and creates a great plot that I was so captivated to that I couldn't stop reading. It is a strong story that will make you want to turn your engine on and ride away, to who knows where? Most of all, it teaches us to not forget how to love.

*A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*

What is the most relatable book you have read recently? What is your recent most favourite fictional couple?

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