Book Review: 3:59

Published By: Balzer & Bray
Publication Date: September 17, 2013
Page Count: 368
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher
Audience: Young Adult - Science Fiction

I've said this before, but I think this review needs the disclaimer that I am not typically a Science Fiction reader. There have been some novels that fall into this genre that I have enjoyed, but I find that to be the exception more than the norm. 

I think part of the reason I didn't enjoy this one as much as I had hoped was the parallel universe aspect and all the physics behind it. Yes, I know it's Science Fiction and that means science may play a pivotal role in the plot, but the science in this one was tedious. I had no idea what they were talking about when the physics jargon started to flow nor do I have any idea if the things they were discussing were possible. I started to glaze over a bit when Josie and Penelope would enter physics geek land.

In spite of my bleh response to the physics, I did enjoy this one. There are some creepy beasts called Nox that keep plaguing humans. They attack at night and leave no survivors. I was intrigued by their origins and uses. McNeil does not sugar coat the attacks; they are gruesome and brutal. Trust me, there were a few nights when I was reading this that I had some pretty freaky nightmares.

I also really enjoyed Josie. In the beginning, I was worried that we wouldn't connect. She's so negative and upset - understandably so - nothing really goes right in Josie's life. Things just keep falling apart for her. I get why anyone would be depressed in those circumstances, but I have to be in the mood to read about a character like that. Lucky for me, Josie shakes of the depression and enters kick ass mode pretty quickly. I love that she's smart and courageous. YA needs more girls like her. In addition, Penelope was also one of my favorites. I love her intellect and she is the sort of friend every one needs around.

There is a romance here, but it isn't the driving force of the story. It was nice to have that be somewhat in the background. I mean it's difficult to concentrate on romance when giant blood crazed bird things are stalking you.

I picked this one up because of the author. I adored Ten and was hoping for another creepy, addicting read. I got the creepy factor, but this one fell short of "unputdownable" for me. Again, I think this novel will appeal more to Science Fiction lovers who won't be put off by the scientific jargon. I do have to hand it to McNeil - she knows how to craft a unique story that is full of heart pounding actions and treacherous plot twists. I also appreciate that she does a lot of stand-alones - it's nice to have those every now and then in a sea of series.

One Last Gripe: That ending was brutal.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: The mystery/thriller aspects were well done.

First Sentence: Josie crouched behind the photon laser module and aligned it with the beam splitter at the other end of the lab table.

Favorite Character: Josie

Least Favorite Character: Madison

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.