Prince and the Pauper Meets Parallel World Travel: A Review of “Tandem”

Tandem by Anna Jarzab

Tandem by Anna Jarzab

I read Tandem as it was on a recommendation list for books similar to These Broken Stars.

Sasha, a mundane, modern-day Chicagoan, is hoodwinked by secret agent Thomas and whisked away to Aurora.  Aurora is a parallel world that greatly resembles Earth…except for the fact that the Aurora Borealis can be seen everywhere, every night, and the fact that North America is divided by the Mississippi into two kingdoms.  Instead of a united country, the United Commonwealth of Columbia and Farnham have been embroiled in bitter war for centuries.  It is hoped that an arranged marriage between each kingdom’s heir will unite everyone and put an end to the bloodshed.

Of course, the repressed princess of the UCC, Juliana, does not want to marry Prince Callum.  She arranges to be “kidnapped” and taken away to live the remainder of her life freely.

As Juliana’s analog, or cosmic doppelgänger, Sasha is forced into the role of playing princess until her royal highness can be found.  Although reluctant to play nice at first, Sasha soon realizes that she will not be able to return home unless she complies and acts as Juliana.

During her week of pretending, Sasha uncovers hidden military plots, falls for her kidnapper, and sheds an abundance of tears (obnoxious!).  She also discovers just why she’s had dreams about Juliana and the castle her whole life – she and Juliana are connected by a cosmic tether.

Tandem is not lacking in plot twists and suspense.  Its characters, however, seem somewhat undeveloped and I didn’t really find myself truly caring about anyone but Thomas.  Juliana is your typical spoiled and angsty princess, longing to shrug off her title and live like a normal person.  Sasha is a rather wishy-washy protagonist – I find that I like my female leads to have a bit more strength and conviction.  At first her crying is understandable; she did just get yanked into an entirely different world against her free will.  After a while though, it just becomes annoying.  Prince Callum seems like a good guy, trying to go along with his arranged marriage, but god is he boring.

I enjoyed the overall ideas of the tandem, the tether, the anchors, analogs…but I found some of the explanations of inner workings to be a bit cloudy or ridiculous.  Sasha’s connection to Aurora through her deceased father somehow bothered me.  It just seemed too simple.  I also hated how easy it was for Sasha to force a vision of Juliana.  Sure, just have Thomas fling her over the edge of a skyscraper and BAM! instant view of what’s going on.

The Good

  • Interesting concepts regarding travel between worlds using the tandem and anchors
  • Decent amount of plot twists (if sometimes predictable), some suspense
  • A likeable character in Thomas, who must struggle between doing what’s expected of him and what he feels is right

The Bad

  • Thomas and Sasha’s relationship got to be a little much for me, especially since they only knew each other for little over a week.  Yeah, he can be a nice guy, but Stockholm Syndrome much?
  • Callum was boring, and I disliked how Sasha led him on.  Sure, she had to pretend to some extent since she was supposed to be marrying him, but it seemed like the author was trying to create an unnecessary love triangle.
  • Characters overall were unrelatable and undeveloped.
  • All the lead up to Sasha finding the classified folder on “Angel Eyes,” aaand….we don’t really find out what it is.  She asks Thomas about the map, but he has no idea what it’s about.  I sure hope that this is a question that will be answered in the next book.
  • Why did Sasha discard her real name when she was younger?  What is the significance of her chosen name?

Overall Rating

3 out of 5 stars

I know I won’t read this one again, and I’m not exactly itching for the release of book #2 next year.  I don’t really care what happens to any of the characters, and the fact that there is going to be a third analog version of Sasha in Tether…meh.

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