The Search for Perfection: Relativity, Cristin Bishara



Cristin Bishara

If Ruby Wright could have her way, her dad would never have met and married her stepmother Willow, her best friend George would be more than a friend, and her mom would still be alive. Ruby knows wishes can’t come true; some things just can’t be undone. Then she discovers a tree in the middle of an Ohio cornfield with a wormhole to nine alternative realities. 

Suddenly, Ruby can access completely different realities, each containing variations of her life—if things had gone differently at key moments. The windshield wiper missing her mother’s throat…her big brother surviving his ill-fated birth…her father never having met Willow. Her ideal world—one with everything and everyone she wants most—could be within reach. But is there such a thing as a perfect world? What is Ruby willing to give up to find out?

Perfection. It’s unattainable, wherever you go, whatever you do. And in Cristin Bishara’s Relativity, that truth becomes painfully real as Ruby travels through different parallel universes, on her own search for the perfect world. If there was one thing I took home from this book, it’s that perfection is impossible, no matter how much mankind craves it. But that’s not supposed to be discouraging.: Imperfections help make you a better person, and as hard as it is to imagine, I think it is what helps us through life.

Summary: After her mom’s death, Ruby and her father have never been the same, but it’s only twelve years later that her dad decides to remarry, and Ruby’s life is plunged into further bleakness. With the new marriage comes a move from her well-loved home in California, to boring old Ennis in Ohio. To top things off, Kandy, her new stepsister, seems to have it out for her. Then she discovers a wormhole in an ancient oak behind her house that enables her to travel through different parallel universes, and in each universe, things have turned out differently. Could this be the key to the perfect world she’s been searching for all these years? Is this her chance to set things right again?

I didn’t have very high opinions of the book at first. Apart from failing to truly grasp my attention within the first couple of pages, I didn’t find Ruby a particularly likable — or realistic — character. That’s not to say that she’s got a horrible personality, or that she’s annoying, because she’s not (not most of the time, anyway). I felt that her personality was too superficial — she’s a science nerd, sure, and I guess her obsession with physics and string theory showed that, but I didn’t really find any of it believable. It was like her interests only existed on the surface, and not much deeper.

As for the other characters, I can’t say that I was very impressed either. Kandy, Ruby’s stepsister, was another shallow character. Irrationally violent, and seeming to have it out for Ruby, the reason Bishara gave near the end for her behavior was flimsy and unbelievable. Also, the fact that Ruby let her stepsister harass her like that didn’t help me like her more. I was also hoping for more characterization — since this is a book about parallel worlds, and characterization is important so that the reader doesn’t get mixed up — from the others, but alas. Ruby’s father, Willow, George, Patrick, Mom — all of them lacked depth and persona. They were your average Joes, with nothing at all to make them memorable.

Another thing that bugged me immensely was the amateurish writing, which more often than not, seeped into the characters’ actions themselves. For example, Kandy had a sign outside her door that said “GET LOST, GO AWAY, DIE,” and unless I’m an old woman in a sixteen-year-old’s body, I’m pretty sure we don’t do that anymore. I mean, the urge to decorate your room door with stickers and signs probably faded away when you were thirteen, right? So I found this incredibly immature, especially since Kandy’s supposed to be this tough-ass girl who beats people up for no reason. The dialogue, too, was oftentimes jerky and unrealistic, a bit like something out of a bad movie script.

Plot-wise, though, Relativity made up somewhat for the mundane characters. Knowing me, the main reason why I was so interested in this book was because of the parallel universes, and the story did meet those expectations. I would have appreciated a little more explanations concerning the oak tree that enabled Ruby to travel to different parallel worlds, but I was still pretty satisfied.

Overall, while definitely disappointing on a whole, Cristin Bishara still managed to pull me in and keep me reading until the end. There’s no denying that she knows her stuff, and I loved the message she sent across with Relativity. Perfection doesn’t exist. Science proves that. But we can still make the most of our lives, because it all depends on the choice we make, and which path we choose to follow. 

Who is this book for?

If you have a strange, almost borderline obsessive infatuation with parallel universes (like moi), and if you don’t mind the lack of characterization in books, then you’ll probably like Relativity.

3 stars

288 pages, e-galley from NetGalley (thank you!)
Published September 10, 2013 by Walker Childrens
Purchase: The Book DepositoryAmazon


18 thoughts on “The Search for Perfection: Relativity, Cristin Bishara

  1. Uh, there seem to be a lot of teenage stereotypes inside the books and cliches what with Kady being a jealous step-sister and all.

    It’s interesting how there are 9 alternate universes! Wow, the possibilities are kinda crazy. I probably won’t check this book out, nothing really attracts me to it and I’ve read enough books on parallel universes this year so I’m kinda satisfied with what I’ve read but thanks for the great review Meg 🙂

    • She’s not so much jealous as having very intense behavioral issues, really. But apart from that, the characters aren’t exactly cliche; they’re just not very remarkable.

      I didn’t expect that many either! But it got kind of confusing at some point, because of the characterization. I couldn’t tell which character was from which universe and so on. Hah, I’ll never get tired of parallel universe books, but I think you can afford to skip this one. 🙂

  2. Ough, I don’t this book is for me. The characterization is the most important aspect of the book in my opinion. The book’s plot does sounds pretty interesting and I DO find the idea of parallel worlds interesting, but I don’t think I will stand reading a book with such shallow and unrelatable characters. Thanks for sharing this review and warning about it, though!

    Sapir @ Diary of a Wimpy Teen Girl

    • I’m usually fine if the characterization takes a backseat (not preferable, though), but the rest of the book MUST make up for it exceedingly, and unfortunately, RELATIVITY didn’t. 😦 You won’t be missing out on much by skipping this, though.

  3. Too bad about the flat characters I’m finding lately books ted to concentrate on the plot and forget some of the other areas. no matter how awesome a plot might be – and I do enjoy parallel universes – I usually can’t truly immerse myself in a story if I don’t FEEL the characters if you know what I mean. The sign outside the door O_o I did that when I was 7 haha. Lamerz!

    • Same here! I think my pickiness has gotten worse ever since I started book blogging, because originally, I used to care more about the plot than the characters (I know, right?!), but now, I find it hard to enjoy a book that doesn’t have good characterization. Huh. LOL!

  4. Sounds like the message was great but the delivery was disappointing. I hate when that happens. On the bright side the cover is super shiny, love it. 🙂 Cool review honey, I found it really helpful, thanks!

  5. Oh, sad you didn’t like this one, but I can see why it fell short. I feel like parallel universes is just such a hard concept to tackle and it can really be a hit or miss. But I’m a big fan of character development, so I’ll have to pass on this. Great review, Meg!

  6. Yikes. I was interested in this book before but I don’t think I’d be able to tolerate the negatives that you mentioned…

    I don’t think that I would hate Ruby, but I definitely wouldn’t particularly enjoy her character. I like my characters to be believable and realistic, not the other way around. Kandy, however, would be a character I would dislike a lot. Beats people up for no reason? No! Just no!

    And the writing sounds… Meh. I mean, “GET LOST, GO AWAY, DIE”? I’m thirteen and I haven’t glued a “Stay Away” sign to my door since I was little! I feel really mature now 😛

    Thanks for the great review! I don’t think that I will be picking this book up any time soon, but it’s nice to know that it at least has an absorbing story 🙂

  7. There are SO MANY books coming out right now about time travel or parallel universes – it’s really easy to believe this one got lost in the midst. FYI: if you’re looking for a great time travel book, Backward Glass by David Lomax. It comes out October 8. There we go – shameless product placement 😉

    Anyway, unless I’m an old woman in an eighteen-year-old’s body too, I totally agree with you about Kandy. Writing a sign like that is really immature – especially for a girl who’s supposed to be as tough as nails. Whiny characters are the worst – and one of the top reasons I’ll DNF a book.

    At least the concept was interesting! I wish it had made up for the characters, but I guess that does happen sometimes. I hope your next book wows you a bit more!

  8. It sucks that the characters in genereal were hard to connect with you, it’s been happening a lot to me and it sucks so much. 😦 Glad that the plot made this a lot easier to plough through!

    Brilliant review, Megan! <33

  9. This really happens more than I’d love. All new books have some amazing ideas and mostly things blow me away but somewhere in the process authors forget about the characters. When you cannot connect with them it’s hard to enjoy the story. I’m glad you enjoyed the plot here though. Great review Meg 🙂

  10. No character depth = Me not enjoying the book = Total fail. I’m so tired of reading all these 3 stars review books lately and I don’t even want to look at something that might ended up being in that meh pile books. I love parallel universe theme, but I don’t think this would be the book for me. Thanks for reviewing it, Meg 🙂

  11. I think, especially after becoming a book blogger, character depth’s been a really big thing for me. And the amateurish writing kind of really puts me off (“GET LOST, GO AWAY, DIE” – REALLY?). Since I’m not infatuated with parallel universes or anything, I might skip this one, then. Thanks for the review, Meg! 🙂

  12. I tend to find that bland characters will usually turn me off a book (unless there are other more compelling aspects such as amazing world building, or a riveting plot). And the characters in this book certainly seem pretty average. And lol…I may have a little hanger thing for the door that says Do Not Disturb: Reading 😛 hehehe (it’s just always up there, even when I’m not reading haha. I’m too lazy to take it down)
    I love parallel universe books (actually I just really like Scifi haha) so I might give this book a try in the future 🙂

  13. Pingback: Warp Drive Sunday: Sept 22 – Sept 28 | Adrift on Vulcan

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