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I read this in the late 2000s or early 2010s (2009-2013).

It was a young adult novel about a boy who who receives a mysterious letter from a secret organization and if he burns the letter they will stop contacting him. It turns out the secret organization is a group of about five-ish people who have the ability to go between dimensions. In this book every time you make a decision that could have gone a different way reality splits off into different realities to contain both possibilities. Some of these possible realities are less "fit" than others and will disintegrated into nothing.

It turns out that the boy has a special concentration of life force energy or something like that that allows him to manipulate reality and to travel between these dimensions a little bit. He sees a version of himself perishing in a dying universe that died because the letter was burned. The child's psychic powers start to go out of control and his subconscious lashes out to create a giant metal spider that chases him and the other characters.

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This is the The 13th Reality series by James Dashner.

The series synopsis at the The 13th Reality Wiki covers several of the plot points you mentioned:

  • A new reality is created every time a person makes a choice that has a significant consequence.
  • The young protagonist, Atticus "'Tick'" Higginbottom, receives a mysterious letter from someone he doesn't know.
  • He proceeds to solve riddles, meets new friends, and embarks on a life-threatening journey into other realities.

What if every time you made a choice that had a significant consequence, a new, alternate reality was created — the life that would've been had you made the other choice? What if those new realities were in danger? What if it fell to you to save all the realities?

A boy named Atticus "'Tick'" Higginbottom is a normal 13-year-old until he gets a letter from Alaska, signed 'M.G.' Tick learns that something deadly is about to happen and could result in the destruction of reality itself. Tick then follows clues and solves riddles in more letters, soon meeting new friends and journeying into other Realities- alternate worlds that are created every time a choice is made. Not knowing what dangers lie ahead, Tick and his friends take on a journey that could be life-threatening.

According to this review, Tick was told that he could simply burn the letter if he didn't wish to proceed any further, but that if he did so, many people would be harmed:

Tick has received a letter promising him that he will be exposed to incredible danger unless he burns the letter. But if he burns it, many people will be harmed. Tick isn’t afraid to admit he’s a nerd, and he’s rather fond of solving puzzles, but will his best be enough?

The wiki states that Tick has uncanny control over 'Chi'Karda,' due to the 'soulikens' which have passed onto him from his dead alternants:

He has uncanny control over Chi'karda (Which is caused by the death of all of Tick's alternants, whose soulikens have all passed onto him.).

The Chi'karda is the mysterious force that controls quantum physics. It is the scientific embodiment of conviction and choice, which in reality rules the universe. It is responsible for creating the Realities.

The plot of the second book, The Hunt for Dark Infinity, involves Tick and his friends being attacked by mechanical spiders:

A sharp pain built behind Tick’s eyes, his mind spinning in all kinds of directions. He knew these mechanical spiders must be like the Gnat Rat or the Tingle Wraith, things sent by Master George to test them. At least he hoped they were from Master George.

“‘Inside the words of the words inside,’” Sofia said in a burst, her eyes widening in revelation. “‘Inside the words of the words inside!’”

The spider-things were two levels away, close enough for Tick to make out their features. The long, spindly legs were jointed metal, supporting a round ball of steel with all kinds of devices jutting from its body—spinning blades and sharp knives. The clanking and clicking and whirring of the horrible creatures made Tick’s insides boil.

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    This is certainly it!! Thank you so much!! That was a speedy ID. Thank you! Sep 15, 2023 at 0:50

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