Midnight Books, November 30, 2014
Celia has dreams.
She dreams of going to Seoul for a scholarship she never took, ofleaving everything behind and moving to New York. In all those dreams, she finds herself attached to Benedict, the boy she has always loved, but who doesn’t love her back. Ben believes in parallel worlds. Worlds where things you didn’t do come true—worlds in which he goes to London and falls in love with Celia, where he shows up on the day she needs him the most. He believes that dreams are glimpses into that parallel world, and it’s not a coincidence that Celia’s been having them too.
But here, now, they’re in Manila. It’s the day of Ben’s wedding, and a typhoon is raging through the city. How will these dreams and unmade decisions change their lives? Will they bring them closer together or drive them farther apart?
Reviewer's Copy: Ebook
Source: Author (Thank you!)
After reading A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray, I thought I would never be able to find another book about multiverse. When I heard about Cities, I knew that I just had to read it. Carla's version of the multiverse was less scientific, dwelling more on the theme of fate, possibility and intertwined lives.
Celia was a likable character, madly in love with Ben, but he was going to be married to Vivian in a few hours. Lovestruck and unable to accept that Ben was going to be married away, Celia braved the ceremony but what-ifs buzzed in her head and she felt like a total disaster. To make things even more complicated, Vivian was her best friend and she was the Maid of Honor. After a semi-awkward conversation with Ben about multiverse and how they lived a set of possibilities in each universe; how he believed that somewhere, he and Celia had their happily ever after, Celia began to spiral her way back to her dreams, to other versions of herself.
Ben's theory was that the dreams that he and Celia had, the ones wherein he was getting married to Celia, instead of to Vivian, wherein he loved Celia back, were reflections or memories of the different version of himself in another universe. The narration bled from main story to dreams, from reality (as they know it in the present universe) to dreamscape/parallel universe. The switching between one universe to another was a bit confusing at first, but once I got the hang out of it, I was able to adjust to the fluid narration of Cities. The different lives of various versions of Celias were played out in different Cities: Manila, Hongdae, London and New York. The main universe was set in Manila, the peripheral/parallel multiverse were set in other cities. The concept was a bit like the one in A Thousand Pieces of You: each universe represents a set of possibilities. There were various dimensions wherein Celia and Ben were emotionally involved, whether it was fleeting or long-lasting. True enough, they always met each other in the other dimensions, sometimes they wound up together and sometimes they didn't. Carla's way of showing the varying degrees of emotional involvement, love and fate was stunning and complex. A reader could get lost into the pages and in a parallel universe.
To be honest, I was more drawn to the artsy and fashionable best friend in all the multiverse: Henry Cruz. He was the solid knight in shining armor. He was always there when Celia needed him or when Celia needed to be rescued. He was her pillar, the shoulder to cry on, the hand to lead her forward and the arms to pick her up when she has fallen down. Henry was handsome, sleek and fashionable, loved literature, enjoyed eating out and was incredibly sensitive to the feelings of the people around him and thoughtful. He sounded like my dream guy, actually. I know that we get a lot of books wherein the best friend never ends up with the main character. I'mm glad that in Cities, there was more than one chance for Henry to be together with Celia.
Carla wrote in a very atmospheric manner, she transported me to South Korea, London and New York. I really enjoyed this about Cities. The pages were charged with nostalgia, memories and feels that added up to the wondrous storyline of switching perspectives, minds, and universe. I only had a bit of a problem with the transition from dream to reality to a different universe, as it was a bit blurry around the edges but don't let this discourage you as I easily got the hang of it. I also felt that the book could have been made a bit longer, so that the readers could get to know the characters more deeply, to get emotionally invested in them. At the same time, it would have been nice to have a clear discussion of the theory of the multiverse in the book - a direct discussion of their dreams, thoughts and theories, to make the idea crystal clear in the mind of readers. It just so happened that I am well versed in science fiction that I grasped the idea quickly.
Cities was an atmospheric, heartfelt, beautifully written contemporary with an edge of science fiction. I devoured it and enjoyed every page, and all the feels, wonders, realizations and lessons that it offered. The cast (Celia, Ben, Vivian and Henry) was an interesting bunch. Although they retained the kernel of their personality, they were a little bit different in each universe. It was like seeing bits and pieces of them in each universe, and at the end, I was able to see the whole picture of who they really were deep inside. I loved how the characters were developed in various settings and circumstances. I recommend this to readers who enjoy science fiction and contemporary romance (Cities is like a multi-love-story book); readers who liked A Thousand Pieces of You and who are interested in multiverse/parallel-dimension-themed books.
About the Author:
Carla de Guzman (firstname.lastname@example.org) had horrible handwriting as a kid. That didn't stop her from writing, though. Riddled with too much energy and a vivid imagination, she started writing every midnight. She grew up with her toes in the sand and her bags packed and ready to go on adventures. Her books are chronicles of her journeys, with a little romance mixed in. When she’s not sitting in a plane or working, Carla writes for her blog, Some Midnights (www.somemidnight.wordpress.com) and for When in Manila.
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