3:59 by Gretchen McNeil

3:59 by Gretchen McNeil
Balzer & Bray | Hardcover, 386 pages
Publication Date: Sept 17th, 2013
YA SciFi
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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.

In My Own Words:

Parallel universe. Teens smarter than the average. Portals. Scientific jargons that, surprisingly enough, I was able to understand. Matter can occupy the same space at the same time; meaning, two versions of one person can be on the same plane of existence.  It also features the kind of nocturnal giant birds that I’ve only seen in that movie,  Pitch Dark. It has the right mix of high octane action, romance and Sci-Fi that did not make my head spin. In short, this book was worth the read.

My Thoughts:

This book started out with an unforgivable relationship faux pas: a cheating character. I almost didn’t continue because of it. But I persevere because I was on a mission. I’m trying to pack away as much YA as I can so I can move on from this genre. DNF’ing is not an option. Well, I’m glad I finished this book. I’m glad I stuck with it.

I somehow ended up with a couple of books of the same subject on my current reads last week: parallel universe. The other book being, Relativity by Cristin Bishara. Admittedly, I started the latter first and have read more than half of the book already before I decided to try this one on for size. Relativity, unfortunately, was a little slow for my taste. And I have a premonition that I will not be left with the same dissatisfaction as I now have with this one.

Books with this theme typically bore me. But 3:59 managed to keep my characteristically fleeting attention for the entire day. Yup. I read it in one sitting. The romance – though started on the wrong side of right – got ultimately better. Truthfully, I can’t reconcile the same sets of characters from their different worlds. Aside from Penelope, everyone pretty much took on different personalites. The differences were startling. In effect, the two versions of Nick and Josephine was exactly how you would envision them in a Bizarro World.

Bravo, McNeil for throwing that wrench on what was turning out to be a smooth-sailing plot. On the surface, you’d think that you have it all figured out because the author told the story with a misleading transparency. She tells you who the good and the bad guys were. You’d never anticipate the twist in the end. I know I didn’t.

Josie’s kick-assery multiplies when she starts spouting off theories of relativity, gravity and quantum physics. She didn’t sound pretentious nor did she try so hard to make it seem like she was trying hard. I really like how McNeil used scientific jargons but then she made them sound so pedestrian.

To conclude, 3:59 showed me exactly what it would be like to read an accessible SciFi. I must admit the Romance is a big seller with this book. I’m looking forward to reading the next instalment because the book left off at a sort of, kind of unfinished ending.