Branches: A Novel of Other Timelines by Adam Peter Johnson

3/5 stars A Multiverse, alternate reality with a pill.

Phew, okay here goes. I picked this up as part of our Indie Book Club monthly read. I like dystopian fiction and the premise of the book intrigued me.

This is the story of a man who is struggling with headaches and finds out that they are a result of him being in the wrong multiverse. He has been drifting for months through hundreds, maybe thousands of an infinite number of multiverses each subtly different but the change so gradual, so close to his own he never really noticed.

By taking a pill each day for a week he can drift back to his ‘own’ multiverse and be where he is meant to be. The thing is he is not sure if that will be better or worse than where he is now – or if indeed there might be a multiverse more appealing than his own. A world where things are more positive and his life better. Maybe it could end up a whole lot worse?

Okay, admit it, that does sound intriguing right? The trouble is I found it a struggle to read and DNF’d it at about 60% in. Now it is unusual that I would review a book I DNF’d but since it is part of my Indie Book Club review I feel I needed to make an exception.

It is a shame the book did not gel for me because it is well written. APJ can write that is for sure. It is told in an over the shoulder kind of first-person narrative. I enjoyed the structure and the language of it, it was just that I found the story dragged. It did not hold my attention and I think that is because I just did not care for the main character. I couldn’t even tell you his name or recall if it is mentioned at all.

The MC is intelligent but is like Joe Mundane. In other words boring. He has an overriding obsession against ‘Him’ Him being Donald Trump and the different multiverses we get to experience him in, from a police state-like oligarch to deposed president. I found it was like a stuck record only every time I unstuck the record it played the same song in a different bar. I didn’t much care for it and found the whole thing one long, never-ending crisis of monotony.

I felt more affinity for Meredith his wife and his young son. His dead mother taught him the values of standing up and choosing aside, of being morally present, yet he displays none of those traits in my view.

Now before I get all doom and gloomy you must remember. This is just how I feel. I don’t like Oreo biscuits but my wife loves them. That is the same as any book. There will be those a story appeals to and those that it does not. So I would urge anyone to make up their own mind. The writing is professional and well constructed so this book may well appeal to you and I would urge you if the premise sounds like your kind of ‘Oreo’ that you to ‘Take a Look Inside’ and decide for yourself.

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