Thursday, October 3, 2013

Book Review: 3:59 by Gretchen McNeil

Author:  Gretchen McNeil
Publisher:  Balzer & Bray, 368 pages
Publication Date:  September 17, 2013

From Goodreads:
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.

A fun, fast and entertaining read.  Parallel world books are fascinating to me and they definitely seem to be trendy right now.  The book starts with Josie having a rough time, not only with her mom and dad, but also with her best friend and boyfriend.  So when she discovers this other Josephine (Jo) she jumps at the chance to switch places with her just for the day.  But then she finds out that Jo was keeping certain things from her about her world.  It is definitely much different from  her world, and much more dangerous.  

I enjoyed the science aspect of this book and the fact that Josie was always trying to find a logical, scientific explanation for everything (although it was definitely over my head).  

In some ways the worlds were very similar.  Josie and Jo go to the same school, with the same people, and they have the same parents.  But there were a lot of differences as well, especially given the shadowy creatures that the summary mentions.  That one difference basically led to many changes between the two worlds.  

There was definitely some insta-love going on that was a bit ridiculous (although I did like the love interest, he was such a good guy), and there was one scene in particular that was over the top as far as what happened (I mean, come on, I know you're teenagers and your hormones are raging, but really?  After what just happened?  You couldn't leave the room?  I'm not sure if the author thought it was romantic, but just...ew.  If you read the book, you'll know exactly what scene I'm talking about).  

I think this is a stand-alone, but I'm not sure since the ending left things a bit open.  I would recommend reading this book, but it's not the best parallel worlds book I've read.  Good, not great.

Posted by:  Pam 


  1. I'm going to reading this one later this month for Cassie and Lauren's Fall Into Reading feature. Gross, insta-love. That disappoints me already. I freaking hate insta-love. But it sounds like there are other interesting aspects. Hopefully I enjoy it!

    Rebecca @ The Library Canary

    1. The romance is not the focus, so it didn't bother me too much. Hope you enjoy it! ~Pam

  2. I had no idea this was about parallel universes (because I don't read synopses which I've just admitted on my blog) but I do love these kinds of stories. I am also a nerd so I imagine that I will like the science in this story. Boo for insta-love but be a go regardless. Ashley is actually reading this soon I think. Reading your review it kind of reminds me of the parallel universes in Fringe (not sure if you ever saw that show)

    1. I loved Fringe (and Sliders, did you ever see that show?) and I do love these types of stories too. ~Pam

  3. Huh, I admit that I hadn't really read the premise for this one when I'd seen a bunch of other reviewers I trust say that this just didn't work for them; yours is the first positive one that I've seen. Also, doppelganger - so hard for me to think of anything else besides Vampire Diaries. But that premise sounds deliciously creepy -- like it would make for a fun, fast and entertaining read.

    I agree that parallel world books seem to be trendy right now. I think I've seen you feature Tandem too, and that's an upcoming title. If you want more, there's Through to You and... agh, I feel like I had another one in mind, but I just can't put name to it right now. The science aspect you mention definitely is like Through to You so if you liked that part, you might really like that book. Oh, oh, Pivot Point was another book with somewhat parallel realities (your comment about the worlds being similar reminded me of that). Again, if you're interested. I'm curious about these shadowy creatures, though I wonder how that fits into the parallel world aspect...

    Lol. I've definitely had the same thoughts about some romances during YA books. Not just the insta-love but somehow hormones raging so much that apparently they won't leave and remember that now-is-not-the-right-time. I don't know why that seems to happen so often with YA...

    1. Vampire that show. Damon actually mentioned on the season premiere that he's going to have to learn how to spell doppelgänger since there are is yet another one. And it was definitely an interesting premise, just not executed as well as Tandem, which I loved.

      I haven't read Through to You because I keep reading such mixed reviews. I should probably just read it (I could have done mini-reviews of parallel world books).

      The scene I refer to in the review about the hormones raging has got to be, hands down, the worst (or best) example of it that I have ever read. If you read it, you'll know, because it's ridiculous. I think the author recognizes that it's ridiculous so if I could, I would ask her about it. ~Pam