The Space Between Worlds is Micaiah Johnson’s debut, but that word is utterly insufficient for the blazing, relentless power of this book, suggesting ballroom manners where it should conjure comet tails ... As a metaphor for neoliberal imperialism, this tale is profoundly satisfying; as a work of art, it’s even better. Cara is so mesmerizing a character that I was helpless before every twist and turn of plot, riveted by her pain, love and secrets. The book remained two steps ahead of my imagination, rattling it out of complacency and flooding it with color and heat ... Everything is hard. The news vacillates between horror novel and undisciplined television drama from one hour to the next. But The Space Between Worlds and Dance on Saturday make me feel profoundly grateful to exist in the same world and at the same time as their authors — to bear witness to the furious compassion and generosity of their power.
Have you ever read a book and been unable to form any thoughts whatsoever for the next couple of hours because it was absolutely brilliant? This was that book for me. It gripped me from page one and I couldn’t stop reading until I reached the final page ... I will not say much about the romance so as to not give away anything, but I loved it. I loved the complex and rocky development of trust, the confusion, the heartache, and the slow burn which was frustrating in a really good way! It was so cleverly done and like a jigsaw puzzle that was slowly put together ... I also thoroughly enjoyed the subtle ways in which the author foreshadowed some twists; so subtle that you realise them for what they are only after you’ve see the twist. Both the fast paced plot and engaging writing is sure to keep readers at the edge of their seats as they read this book! ... The Space Between Worlds is a story with multiverses and interdimensional travel, but it’s also the story of one survivor, her people, and her lives across the multiverse. Micaiah Johnson beautifully brings these two together to give us a riveting story filled with adventures and emotions.
...a smart, exciting, and emotionally insightful book, which explores issues of race, privilege, borders, and identity within an apocalyptic setting somewhere between Elysium and Mad Max
... There is a lot going on in this journey, but the pace and movement of The Space Between Worlds are masterfully done, especially for a debut novel. The story is consistently engaging as Cara works through the various transformations and challenges of her life as a traverser and the ending, both in matters of character growth and plot development, is surprising and satisfying ... Not only is the story telling of The Space Between Worlds excellent, the book is also just plain smart. The many difficult issues of privilege, race, sexuality, gender and class are handled wonderfully throughout. Honestly, Johnson’s work could easily be used in the syllabus of a more adventurous sociology professor for all the varied topics it covers ... One of the joys of reading contemporary science fiction is seeing how new authors with new ideas can take older tropes and create a story that speaks to their own time and lived experiences. This joy was so present in this fantastic first novel by Johnson, and I am so excited to read more from her in the coming years
... another book I have mixed feelings about. Not about its success: The Space Between Worlds is ambitious and largely accomplishes what it sets out to do. My mixed feelings are entirely down to whether or not I like it, and how to analyse what it’s doing, regardless of my immediate emotional reaction ... fascinating, complicated, compelling, and far too aware of the costs of precarity to be able to end on a triumphant note. But its quiet, personal, hopeful conclusion is more satisfying, in a deep-rooted way, than any conclusion that turns on revolution. This is a jewel of a novel, all the more impressive for being Johnson’s debut ... I still don’t know whether I like it. I don’t have to. I admire the hell out of it, regardless.
Johnson’s story has a built-in engine where the stakes are always high ... After a strong start, though, the energy dips in the middle third – and that dip makes some of the inconsistencies in the worldbuilding more evident. That isn’t to say there aren’t inconsistencies in every built world, just that they become more evident when the story loses momentum. Johnson pulls it back together again with a lovely last third, mind, but the inconsistency makes it hard to lean into The Space Between Worlds that she has created.
Johnson’s debut explores parallel universes through the eyes of Cara, who is a traverser, a member of an exclusive team that can travel across the multiverse, but only to worlds where she has already died ... As her current and former lives become hopelessly entangled, Cara makes life-altering decisions that affect her and those around her. While setting a comfortable pace, The Space between Worlds ensnares readers with the secrets from Cara’s past and her innovative problem solving.
Johnson’s world-hopping debut uses science fictional tools and an exciting plot to address urgent questions of privilege and position ... Johnson employs Cara’s situation to forthrightly examine questions of privilege, trauma, assimilation, colonialism, and upbringing. While the story takes time to get going and certain aspects of the setting feel derivative, the characters, voice, and twists all demand readers’ attention ... A compelling stand-alone debut that will leave readers thrilled, thoughtful, and anticipating the author’s next book.
Johnson bursts onto the scene with this thought-provoking, high-concept sci-fi debut that impresses with exceptional worldbuilding and a distinctive protagonist, but suffers under the strain of too much plot ... Though the ambitious plotting becomes difficult to untangle as the timelines, characters, and versions of Earth multiply, Johnson’s meditations on privilege and inequality ring true. Despite occasional melodramatics and some hazy political structures, this immersive, original adventure is sure to please readers looking for smart, diverse science fiction. Johnson is a writer to watch.