This story hit a chord for me, because I recently had a moment where I saw a protective wall near my house that I had never seen before. It looked old and worn, but I had never noticed it despite walking by it at least hundred times. Was it just a fluke of memory, or had I woken up in a parallel universe where everything was the same except the wall?
A phenomenon like the “Mandela Effect” becomes an interesting and compelling complication for the main character, a ‘shifter’ who is constantly falling through parallel realities. The format of the story is a journal, where he documents memories of past universes even as he shifts into new ones. The confusion of memory, the questioning of reality, and the search for human connection were strong threads throughout.
What worked for me: The author offers an excellent inner look into how shifting through alternate realities would affect the human psyche. It is fascinating to hear how the main character navigates personal identity, dreams for the future, and above all, making (or fearing to make) meaningful human connections. His loneliness and doubt, but also hope and determination, make this an emotionally fulfilling read. Additionally, I liked how the author keeps listeners/readers on their toes with details that contradict earlier statements, signalling that a shift has happened.
What didn’t work (spoilers): I was surprised and disappointed by the ending of the story. It felt like the work that the main character did to reach out and make connections, despite his fear and apathy in the face of an uncaring and constantly universe, was completely undone. Some readers might prefer this (mostly) sad ending, but I felt a bit thrown off-balance by how it veered off from the tone in the first half.