If philosophy is a science, then Kate Hope Day’s first novel is science fiction ... But advance publicity compares If, Then to mainstream titles such as The Immortalists and Little Fires Everywhere. Certainly the depth and extent of the author’s character analysis feels literary. But that alone doesn’t disqualify its inclusion in the genre ... Small-scale seismic events occur before the mostly minute shifts in reality the book’s four narrators experience, yet the connection there comes across as almost coincidental. A hospitalized philosophy professor’s theory of parallel universes relates a little more clearly — not causally, but as a model of what’s happening.
Captivating ... Often, Day seamlessly slips readers in and out of realities with little warning, and the scenes in which characters observe and, at times, interact with, their alternate realities are intimate, eerie, and startling ... Effortlessly meshing the dreamlike and the realistic, Day’s well-crafted mix of literary and speculative fiction is an enthralling meditation on the interconnectedness of all things.
Day's first novel recalls the philosophical headiness of a TV show like Lost and remixes this sensibility with the chronological playfulness of Cloud Atlas or Atonement. But, until the story really takes off, the emotional stakes of the novel are low—and the prose feels flat and inert, almost like stage directions. There are more affecting moments in the second half of the book ... With all the atmospheric mist crowding out its emotional center, this book's heart is difficult to locate—but the occasional glimpses show promise ... A suburban drama built to leap from page to screen.