Ricochet (2019) – Kathryn Berla

Title: Ricochet
Author: Kathryn Berla
Date published: 2019
Publisher: Flux
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Disclaimer: I was kindly sent a copy of this novel by the author Kathryn Berla herself.

All change starts with a single decision…

The concept of parallel universes has always baffled me, but has also intrigued me. I suppose in a way the idea of having multiple universes is in fact a ‘universal’ curiosity. It is one of those far-reaching ideas that sort of hovers within the realms of science fiction along with time travel and the fountain of youth. Without having any sort of knowledge about quantum physics and the like, one can only imagine each universe existing separately from the other, with each world the same yet different. At least that’s how I always imagined it.

Kathryn Berla’s Ricochet is the science fiction novel on parallel universes that I have been waiting to read for a very long time. I read the blurb and I was immediately convinced that I NEEDED to read this book! Kathryn kindly sent a copy all the way to South Africa and I am so grateful to her for doing so. I was riveted from the first page, and I am quite sure that if you enjoy science fiction and the young adult genre you will be equally consumed by this epic story of secrets, lies and the coming-of-age of four girls who are all the same girl, but living separate realities.

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Tati, is a typical American teenage girl with loving adoptive parents and a girlfriend Priya whose own conservative parents know nothing of her relationship. Tati and Priya both send away for DNA kits to do a genealogy project at school, and have plans to attend college soon.

Ana is also an American, and also has a Priya in her life. However this Priya knows nothing of Ana’s feelings for her. Ana spends a large portion of her life visiting several doctors because of the constant seizures she suffers from. All four girls experience these same seizures and it is through them that they are sometimes able to communicate with one another. In Ana’s world her father is very ill and, and because of her shy demeanor she has very few people to lean on other than her friend Anthony.

Meanwhile in Nordhaven, Germany Tanya lives a secluded life with her mother. They are in hiding from Tanya’s father, and therefore move homes often. The only friend she has is a 10 year old boy called Victor who will become her only ally when a terrible tragedy occurs and she is forced to go on the run on her own.

Finally there is Tatyana whose privileged life in Moscow, Russia is somewhat similar to Tanya’s in that she is isolated and kept from socializing with anyone her own age. Brought up by a father whose ambition and arrogance have made him blind to his daughter’s pain, he has been using her in experiments for his work for years, and Tatyana without knowing any better has allowed him to without questioning her reality.

As we delve deeper into the lives of each girl their separate worlds start to link up, and soon the separate worlds they inhabit become somewhat interconnected. Something very sinister is brewing, and the link, their real father, is threatening their very existence and chances of living normal lives. Or is there only one life to live?

Kathryn Berla’s novel is astonishingly clever and heart-wrenching for all the right reasons. Falling for each and every version of the same girl, whilst you experience their individual pains is similar to watching several television screens at the same time and of course not having the ability to communicate with any of the people on the other side. No matter how many times you bash on the glass they can’t hear you, and you cannot influence their decisions in any way. This novel manages to grapple with the intricacies of parallel universes, and teenage angst with a cool subtlety that allows it to be an epic adventure story to boot.

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