3 out of 4 stars
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The Futility of Vengeance is the sequel to Adam Guest’s first novel, Worldlines. Both have their roots in the Many-Worlds Interpretation that supports the existence of a multiverse. Whenever an important event takes place in our life, all the possible outcomes play out in parallel universes or worldlines. Although these alternate worldlines do not interconnect, our consciousness might wander between them while dreaming. In the first book, after being accused of murdering his girlfriend, Gary Jackson's trial led to his acquittal in one worldline and his imprisonment in another. The sequel finds both these versions of Gary intent on punishing a third version, one who committed the crime during lucid dreaming. This third Gary complicates the matter further by reaching out to his teenage crush, Michelle. The reunion affects his engagement to Sinead, and consequently, his life. As the story plays out in multiple worldlines, one question becomes prominent. Is it possible to take revenge on your doppelgänger, knowing that it will affect you in the current worldline?
The concept of a multiverse was both confusing and thought-provoking. I could not help speculating what possible scenarios might have played out had we applied the Many-Worlds Interpretation to our lives. In addition to the worldlines described in the previous novel, this book showed three further offshoots, proceeding with a total of six worldlines. Although they adhered to the same primary storyline, Guest tweaked each worldline just enough to make subtle alterations in the course of events. This aspect helped me to view a single situation from multiple angles. At times, this feature baffled me; I had to stop reading and recapitulate the events of different worldlines. However, the ingenuity and uniqueness of the plot kept me engrossed.
Guest’s depiction of the characters showed how the situations we face in life play a predominant role in shaping our personalities. I loved how the same person revealed distinct traits in different worldlines. The Black line Gary, who had been disabled by a motor accident, was sulky and manipulative. On the other hand, the Blue line Gary gradually became frustrated with his imprisonment and started to look down upon the other inmates. The Green line Gary was level-headed, while the Brown line Gary was plain obnoxious. The characters of Sinead and Michelle portrayed these nuances, as well.
I was not, however, entirely satisfied with the introduction of so many worldlines. Keeping the story straight started to become problematic after a while. I had to focus on the general essence of the story instead of working out the minor details and their alternate versions. Also, the story ended rather abruptly in almost all the worldlines. Considering the future installments of this series, I expected cliffhangers. However, the ending resembled a random break in an otherwise continuous plot and brought no sense of closure.
Considering these aspects, I rate the book 3 out of 4 stars. Although the author marked the copy as an edited version, a few minor formatting errors still lingered. However, they did not detract from the reading experience. I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to those who appreciate science fiction and abstract ideas, such as the Many-Worlds Interpretation. The readers who have enjoyed Worldlines will love this sequel. However, since the two books create a continuous storyline, reading the previous book is imperative before starting this one. There are several references to violent incidents that might be unsuitable for younger readers.
The Futility of Vengeance
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