Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Book Review: Parallel

Published By: HarperTeen
Publication Date: May 14, 2013
Page Count: 432
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher
Audience: Young Adult - Fantasy

I noticed this book a few times, but couldn't decide if it was something I wanted to read. I don't always enjoy Science Fiction and I have so many other books pleading for my attention. This one arrived with some other books from the publisher and I decided after reading the first chapter to keep turning the pages. I'm really glad I did because while this does have some Science Fiction elements, it doesn't read like a Sci-Fi book at all, it feels more like a contemporary. 

Abby Barnes is a girl after my own heart. She's driven, loyal, a little unsure of herself, and an Atlanta resident. While she may be a Georgia girl, this isn't really a southern novel and there isn't a lot of southern culture present in the narrative. That's okay and realistic. The city of Atlanta does have southern underpinnings for sure, but it has its own unique culture that is more wordly and open minded than other parts of the south. I digress - back to the topic at hand...

Abby has always had a plan for her future. It's been mapped out since 7th grade and she can't imagine a future that isn't in her life plan, but a minor detail changes everything. The seemingly unimportant decision to take a drama class changes the course of Abby's life. She ends up living in Los Angeles and working as an actress in  big budget action movie instead of moving into a dorm room at Northwestern. How could this have happened? Could this one little choice truly change everything? The plot centers around Abby's choices and a collision that throws her reality into the hands of her parallel self. The other Abby chooses different paths and impacts the present Abby.

There was a lot of science in this book and I fully admit that I have no idea how much of it is realistic. It sure sounds good though and does a decent job of explaining the parallel universe issue. More science minded people might have picked this explanation apart, but I was content to trust the author and go along for the ride.

I have often pondered what my life would be like if I had made different choices. Would I have still ended up with my wonderful husband? Would I still be in the same career? Would my life be similar to the one I have now or vastly different? I think we all have those musings from time to time. I love my life; I am blessed beyond measure and have few regrets. I just find this an interesting way to spend time when I'm bored and can't get my hands on a book. Since this is something I have considered, I found it immensely interesting to read about a character that not only has the same sort of musings, but finds herself in a situation that allows her to experience how her life would change if one tiny detail had been changed. It truly makes you consider which moments in your life are the most crucial, which ones define who you will become. 

My biggest complaint with this novel was that it did take some time to adjust to the narrative structure. It bounces between the past and present, switching almost every chapter. It was a little jarring at first - especially when you start to get the memories of the parallel Abby. Those memories alter the present and change the direction of the story. Once I settled in and got my bearings, I really enjoyed this story. I did have issues with some of Abby's choices, but overall I liked this novel a lot. The romance elements - particularly the ones concerning Michael - bothered me as well. This novel takes complicated love triangle to a new level.

One of my favorite things about this novel is the concept of soul-mates  I loved how this topic is evaluated and how Abby learns more about herself by identifying these crucial people. I also liked that soul-mates are just of the romantic variety. It says a lot about the nature of friendship. I loved the connection between Abby and Caitlin. Their friendship is the sort that I longed for as a teen, but was never lucky enough to find during that phase of my life. There was one aspect about the relationship that did irk me. Caitlin seemed to believe Abby's story about what had happened to her a little too easily. It seemed a bit far fetched considering the circumstances.

If you're looking for a little Sci-Fi light with a healthy dose of contemporary voice, then this is a novel you should pick up. It was the perfect blend of fantasy and reality. Lauren Miller's writing is engaging and fun; this is an impressive debut. Parallel will leave you thinking about your own life and how things would change if someone else was calling the shots. This is a perfect spring read as nature reawakens and new possibilities lurk around every corner.

One Last Gripe: The ending bothered me a little. It felt rushed. I did like the message it conveyed, but I wanted just a little bit more.

My Favorite Thing About The Book: The concept of the novel was engaging and intriguing.

First Sentence: I hesitate, then point my gun and pull the trigger.

Favorite Character: Abby

Least Favorite Character: Ben

Abby Barnes had a plan. The Plan. She'd go to Northwestern, major in journalism, and land a job at a national newspaper, all before she turned twenty-two. But one tiny choice—taking a drama class her senior year of high school—changed all that. Now, on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Abby is stuck on a Hollywood movie set, miles from where she wants to be, wishing she could rewind her life. The next morning, she's in a dorm room at Yale, with no memory of how she got there. Overnight, it's as if her past has been rewritten.

With the help of Caitlin, her science-savvy BFF, Abby discovers that this new reality is the result of a cosmic collision of parallel universes that has Abby living an alternate version of her life. And not only that: Abby's life changes every time her parallel self makes a new choice. Meanwhile, her parallel is living out Abby's senior year of high school and falling for someone Abby's never even met.

As she struggles to navigate her ever-shifting existence, forced to live out the consequences of a path she didn't choose, Abby must let go of the Plan and learn to focus on the present, without losing sight of who she is, the boy who might just be her soul mate, and the destiny that's finally within reach.


  1. I've never heard of this one before! It sounds amazing though(: Totally adding to my to read shelf. Nice review!

    1. I hadn't heard much about this one before I started reading. It's a really intriguing debut. I enjoyed it!


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