Wednesday, 11 September 2013

ARC REVIEW: 3:59 by Gretchen McNeil

Pub. Date: September 17th 2013
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Pages: 368
Readership: Young adult
Genres: science-fiction

Josie Byrne's life is spiraling out of control. Her parents are divorcing, her boyfriend Nick has grown distant, and her physics teacher has it in for her. When she's betrayed by the two people she trusts most, Josie thinks things can't get worse.  
Until she starts having dreams about a girl named Jo. Every night at the same time—3:59 a.m.  
Jo's life is everything Josie wants: she's popular, her parents are happily married, and Nick adores her. It all seems real, but they're just dreams, right? Josie thinks so, until she wakes one night to a shadowy image of herself in the bedroom mirror – Jo.  
Josie and Jo realize that they are doppelgängers living in parallel universes that overlap every twelve hours at exactly 3:59. Fascinated by Jo's perfect world, Josie jumps at the chance to jump through the portal and switch places for a day.  
But Jo’s world is far from perfect. Not only is Nick not Jo's boyfriend, he hates her. Jo's mom is missing, possibly insane. And at night, shadowy creatures feed on human flesh.  
By the end of the day, Josie is desperate to return to her own life. But there’s a problem: Jo has sealed the portal, trapping Josie in this dangerous world. Can she figure out a way home before it’s too late?
From master of suspense Gretchen McNeil comes a riveting and deliciously eerie story about the lives we wish we had – and how they just might kill you. (harpercollins)

Time travel. Parallel worlds. DOPPLEGANGERS! I was smitten the second I read the synopsis. I'm not going to lie, a big part of what drew me in was the fact that my mind immediately went to Doctor Who and Doomsday and Rose stuck in the parallel world. If you have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about, go watch Doctor Who right after you read this book!

The plot was so good. Like I said, parallel worlds and dopplegangers! It was something that had the potential to go terribly wrong if not done right but Gretchen really did it swimmingly. There was a lot of science mixed in throughout the book because both Josie and Jo's parents are in the field. I thought it was very well researched but it honestly went a bit over my head but that's only because science was never my strong suit. The flow was fantastic. Everything came together and blended nicely. I didn't think there were any dry spots or slow spots or spots that I wanted to hurry along. There were so many original things about it but what blew me away was the Nox. They are creatures that only come out at night, tearing apart any human they can find and forcing people in the parallel world to rely on electricity and bright lights to stay alive. They scared the crap out of me.

The characters were also fantastic. Gretchen did a superb job of making the characters from Josie's world and the parallel world different even though their lives are almost the same. They go to the same school, have similar jobs, they look exactly the same but all of them are very different. I loved seeing the differences between Josie and Jo, between the two nicks, the two mothers and the two fathers.

I loved Josie so, so much. She was smart, pragmatic but very real in her circumstances. Her parents were separated, she pulled away from her friends, her best friend and boyfriend betrayed her and she felt completely lost. She was given the chance to switch lives with her doppleganger and live in a different world for twenty four hours and she took it. But she quickly learned that it wasn't what she hoped. She became trapped. She had her moments where she thought that it was all too much but she planned, she put her best foot forward and did whatever she had to do to get home.

All in all, it was a fantastic read. The ending was bittersweet for me. I liked how everything came together but I also would have changed one little thing. You'll see what I mean when you read it because everyone should. It was left open for a possible sequel but I'm not so sure that there will be one.

*Thank you so much Harper Collins Canada for providing an ARC!!
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