A mindbending page-turner in the tradition of Dark Matter and The Midnight Library, this surprise Amazon bestseller will make you question everything you know.
SOMETIMES IT FEELS LIKE LIFE TOOK A WRONG TURN … WHAT IF IT DID?
This isn’t your life.
This isn’t your reality.
And there’s a way out.
“A powerful piece of inventive and topical science fiction [that] will undoubtedly resonate with readers in a way that many stories reach for, but few achieve.” –The BookLife Prize
For one man, the past few years have delivered one shock after another. The election of an authoritarian president. The sudden loss of his mother. A series of debilitating seizures. Now, as America descends into a nightmare, he’s shocked to discover the explanation for his seizures: He’s in the wrong universe.
A drug trial promises to return him to the timeline where he belongs. With his family life strained, his job gone and tanks in the streets, he jumps at the opportunity. But what will he find on the other side?
Take a reality-bending trip filled with surprises and second chances. Visit alternate timelines where life played out very differently, yet one man keeps dying in every one. Explore the roads not taken. Question the nature of fate. And find an answer to the biggest question of all: in a world that feels like it’s spinning out of control, what would it take for one person to make a difference?
Now an international Amazon bestseller, Branches is at once a twisty cerebral drama and a deeply personal journey through fear, grief and redemption.
Plot: Johnson leverages a terrifying alternate vision of reality to secure the reader, then drags them into a maddening journey that is as beautiful and horrifying as only the human experience can be.
Prose/Style: Effective and powerful prose elaborates on and elevates Johnson's topical world and all-too-relatable character with a confidence that is sure to sweep readers effortlessly into the pages.
Originality: Johnson delivers a powerful piece of inventive and topical science fiction, a work the likes of which the genre was designed for to begin with.
Character Development/Execution: The author creates an utterly compelling and relatable main character, whose struggles will undoubtedly resonate with readers in a way that many stories reach for, but few achieve.
Date Submitted: July 02, 2021
The nameless protagonist has in recent years felt broken by his country’s circumstances, and Johnson skillfully captures the grief and trauma of life in a society racked by chaos, brutality, intolerance, and anger. While Branches steers clear of specifics, readers will pick up on references to events, political viewpoints, and major figures, though that vagueness defangs some of Johnson’s outrages, such as a subplot regarding systemic racism and police brutality that never quite gels. Moreover, as the protagonist shifts between timelines, encountering ever more authoritarian excess and problematic policies, the narrative never slows down to unpack these moments’ full significance.
Despite the speculative premise, Johnson’s emphasis lies on the narrator’s personal life, examining his relationship to wife and son, his lingering grief over his recently deceased mother, and his hatred of that unspecified President. The constant shifting scenarios, however, make it hard to get a good feel for the protagonist’s original status quo, for what he’s lost and what he hopes to gain. That lack of specifics diminishes the emotional power of this bold experiment in timelines and trauma, though lovers of alternate histories will find much that fascinates.
Takeaway: This journey through a thousand possible presents will appeal to fans of alternate histories looking for a cerebral adventure.
Great for fans of: Ken Grimwood’s Replay, Dexter Palmer’s Version Control
Design and typography: B+
Marketing copy: C+