Monday, October 29, 2012

REVIEW: Order of the Dimensions / Irene Helenowski

TITLE: Order of the Dimensions
AUTHOR: Irene Helenowski
PUBLISHER: Self-Published
AVAILABILITY: Lulu Marketplace (paperback)
APPROXIMATE LENGTH: 314 pages (paperback)

Recommended for fans of alternate universe science fiction such as the TV show Sliders.

Science Fiction—Thriller

Order of the Dimensions follows grad student Jane Kremowski as she travels through multiple versions of contemporary America, trying to stop the power-hungry Anton Zelov from using the multiverse device to take over the world. This book can be safely classified as “soft” science fiction, as there is no technobabble, and many parts of this book read more like a contemporary thriller.

Order of the Dimensions alternates between snapshots of everyday life in the various dimensions, in which Helenowski takes the time to set up each world, and faster paced action scenes depicting Jane’s efforts to stop Anton.

Third person omniscient. While the majority of this book follows Jane and shows events from her point of view, the perspectives of supporting characters and the antagonist are also shown.

Jane Kremowski is a physics grad student working on the Multiverser, a device that allows one to visit alternate universes. In some dimensions, her life is fairly similar to her real one; in others, it is drastically different. Anton Zelov, an ex-KGB agent, seeks to use the Multiverser to create a world in which he rules the Earth. He’s also obsessed with Jane, and in his ideal dimension, she is his wife.

Order of the Dimensions follows Jane as she tries to stop Anton’s scheme. The two engage in a multiverse tug-of-war. Anton uses the Multiverser to gain power and force Jane into an alternate reality in which he is married to her. Jane, after finding herself in Anton’s world, uses the Multiverser to return to a dimension in which the world is normal and she is with the man she loves, Randy. Aided by a group of underground rebels seeking to liberate the world from Anton’s clutches, she fights to restore order to the world and protect the ones she loves.

While Jane is the focus of the story, Anton is the one who drives the actions. He is a classic supervillain in many ways: conniving, merciless, intelligent. The Order he seeks to create is both coldly rational and indisputably efficient: he plucks individuals out of the various dimensions and transports them into the ones where they will be the most useful. Those he deems unworthy in any dimension are sent to the Black Dimension to spend the rest of their lives in oblivion. This Nazi-like mentality coupled with his creepy so-called love for Jane make him a truly despicable character—and the best kind of antagonist. Despite his wicked actions and intentions, he’s still human at the core and can be surprisingly affectionate.

Jane, meanwhile, is a protagonist who’s easy to sympathize with. Although her mission is to save the world from Anton’s rule, her ultimate goal is to protect her loved ones. For instance, in the dimension she came from, her parents died in a car crash and her cousin was traumatized by the tragedy. Jane is determined to make the dimension in which this never occurred a reality. With no combat training and courage as her only weapon, Jane faces off against overwhelming odds, making her quite the underdog.

Helenowski takes the time to describe each dimension, including scenes from everyday life. Although those sections slow the plot considerably, they serve as reminders that each alternate universe is real to the characters. The rules of the Multiverser are complex—under some calibrations, the characters remember their lives in other dimensions, but they don’t in others. Helenowski’s explanations of each dimension’s unique characteristics are succinct and straightforward, making the story easy to follow despite the complicated story lines.

What drives all science fiction is the question: “what if?” In Order of the Dimensions, Helenowski takes this concept to a broader level as each universe Jane travels through presents a new question and a new answer. With an interesting premise and a great villain, this book makes for an enjoyable read.

There are a handful of small errors, but nothing distracting. To be completely honest, I felt as though some sections could have benefited from an editor in terms of sentence structure.

Just FYI, this book is a much quicker read than its page count would imply, as the font is on the larger side and the margins are pretty wide.

This book is fairly G-rated. It contains some action movie style violence, but nothing graphic or gruesome.

Irene Helenowski is a statistical analyst living in Chicago. She recently received her doctorate degree in Biostatistics.

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