Two what-if paths happen in tandem for a teen well-versed in the multiverse.
After a casual encounter with a whippet (the huffing kind, not the dog) Chris Schweitzer wakes up wondering how to explain his visit to the ER. He could lie and say he tripped over a milk crate; coming clean about his derelict behavior would be all kinds of uncomfortable (like the moving 2,000 miles to spend the summer with his famous theoretical physicist father or else forfeit college tuition kind of uncomfortable). So...he does both. Chris experiences the deconstruction of his friend triptych (besties Wexler and Anna hook up), the awkward waves of addiction group therapy, a boyfriend with all the benefits, a born-again alliance, and a family wedding. Chris and friends philosophize and theorize on existence, physics, and religion every step of both ways. They posit what-ifs that happen within the next chapter or have just happened in the previous one. Subtle typeset variations visually segregate the parallel stories. Diagrams peppered throughout meant to clarify can be confusing, muddled, and superfluous. As two different Chrises unwittingly inspire and respond to each other’s worlds, the white cast and dual narrative serve to make Chris realize he should be accountable for his own behavior. Would a sharper focus on only one of the universes have been better for narrative, conflict, and character development? Theoretically.
This take on a trusted formula tries too hard to be different and ends up becoming overcomplicated. (Fiction. 13-18)