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Author E.A. Rohler puts a unique spin on the love triangle trope in her debut novel, Whole.

Author E.A. Rohler puts a whole new spin on the love triangle trope in debut novel, Whole. This refreshing blend of science fiction and romance made for a quick and curious read. I found myself immediately intrigued by the presence of a parallel universe in the novel, and was excited to see how crossing between them would take a toll on character relationships. 

The novel follows 22-year-old Mara Martin through her journey of pursuing her dream of becoming a baker, finding the love of her life, Jake, and building a life together in the city of Chicago, Illinois. When things appear to be at an ultimate high in Mara’s world, she finds herself dropped into the world of Pearth, a parallel universe existing alongside earth. Within that world, are halves of all people existing on Earth. Two of Ellie, her younger sister, two copies of her best friend, Kaitlin, two halves of her Jake. Most importantly, Mara learns that everyone has a separate self between universes, except designates born on November 11th: designates like her.  If all of this new information wasn’t enough to handle, Mara is tasked with helping other designates to save Earth from the after-effects of travel between the two universes. In her efforts to adapt, adjust, and make room for both universes, will Mara have to sacrifice those she loves on Pearth in order to save all life on Earth? Dive into this debut novel to find out! 

Overall, I found myself most captivated by the concept behind this novel. I loved the element of the parallel universe, as well as the love triangle within that construct. Likewise, I loved the tie-in with the environmental toll Earth was taking as designates on Pearth traveled from one place to another. From a worldbuilding standpoint, I felt that Rohler creates a unique construct within the landscape readers know as normal. Not to mention, it echoes the real concern of global warming inhabitants of Earth know well. However, I found myself struggling throughout the novel with consistencies and established rules of the world. For example, it was established that time spent in Pearth had no effect on time passing for people on Earth. However, this concept seems to deteriorate as the novel’s plot progresses. Pair that with designates bouncing back and forth between universes, and I found myself confused about how much time had passed and which world characters were currently in. Add in elevated tensions related to main characters not being present on Earth for important events, and you have an inconsistency that distracts from enjoying the read. Ultimately, including more history, context, and established cultural differences between the settings of Pearth and Earth would help alleviate some of this confusion. This novel takes place in unique landscapes like Chicago, New York, and Nice, France at points, which provides a tremendous opportunity to flex some descriptive muscle. I would have loved to see the setting play as much of a role in the novel as its plot.

From a character outlook, I enjoyed reading the novel from Mara’s perspective. The relationship between Mara and the two halves of Jake was a unique twist on a love triangle trope. While I found myself distracted by the lack of setting differences between universes, I had a solid understanding of how the characters between Pearth and Earth were different. Having Mara attracted to both halves of Jake made for a nice thematic tie-in with the novel’s title. Though I found myself struggling with the pacing of their relationship from the beginning of the novel, and with the context as it related to the conflict between them. The novel opens up with their first meeting at a party, and transitions to the two of them living together years later. Likewise, establishing Mara’s life with Earth Jake as normal, without really giving any depth or history to that relationship, made it really easy to divert our attention to Pearth Jake, rather than allowing the conflict between loving one or the other to truly simmer and burn throughout the book. Dialogue and fights seemed superficial between Mara and the Jakes, when there was an opportunity for tremendous intensity. This applies to Mara’s relationships with other characters, too. Namely, the relationship between Mara and her father on Pearth. Looking at the relationships as a whole,  the bones and ideals of these characters were solid, but the execution and pacing wasn’t entirely consistent. 

All in all, there were inconsistencies with character, pacing, and plot that distracted me from fully immersing myself in this novel. Despite those inconsistencies, I found myself continuously turning pages and curious about what else Rohler has in store for these characters down the road. The uniqueness of this book’s genre, the integration of the parallel universe, and the twist on a popular trope balance this book out for me. With a bit of foreshadowing in the final chapter of Whole, I already have a feeling that Mara and Jake’s journey is only getting started. I plan on picking up a copy of this novel’s sequel, Born when it’s available to see this story evolve.

Reviewed by

Hi! I'm Kayla, one of the co-founders of Queens of Coffee and Canon. I am a High School English teacher working in Chicago Illinois, and I'm a lover of all things books! I read anything and everything I can get my hands on, but personally enjoy Young Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Fantasy!

About the author

E.A. Rohler is an American novelist and author of the Whole series. She spends her days as a product design engineer and her nights writing light sci-fi with a rom com twist. Born outside of Detroit, she now lives in Chicago with her husband and two children. view profile

Published on January 04, 2021

70000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: New Adult

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