Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Review: Parallel

PARALLEL
Lauren Miller
Young Adult/Parallel Lives
432 pages
HarperTeen
Available May 14th
Received from publisher via Edelweiss

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
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.


MY THOUGHTS
Parallel is a story it takes a little while to warm to, Abby’s character someone we instantly like and look forward to learning more about, but the complexity of a multiverse collision and the resulting ramifications create a barrier of confusion between her and us for the first several chapters. Despite the sci fi nature of parallel universes, the explanation Ms. Miller provides for Abby’s predicament is surprisingly believable–due in part to the level of detail and description provided–but it’s that same careful crafting of the science behind it all that has our eyes crossing at times the more we try to understand it. Luckily, Ms. Miller never so overwhelms us with facts or theories that she loses us entirely, and we’re easily drawn back into the lives of our two Abby’s once some of the information has time to settle.

Abby is a young woman who’s funny, down-to-earth, and understandably baffled but the sudden overnight upheaval of her entire world. Though she’s obviously panicked initially, she never lets it show, rather she seeks out best friend Caitlin to explain absolutely everything instead of simply moving forward and trying to figure things out herself. There’s something hugely appealing about a character who’s able to admit they can’t handle everything on their own and is humble enough to ask for assistance, and that humility combined with a sharp sense of humor that occasionally catches us off guard makes her a heroine we genuinely enjoy spending time with.

Abby's story unfolds in an extraordinarily fascinating way, the two versions of her living lives a full year apart in terms of their separate timelines, with the “younger” Abby acting as the dominant player in a game neither realized was even possible. Whatever decisions younger Abby makes directly affect older Abby, and the realization that even the smallest flap of younger Abby’s wings can create gale force winds for older Abby keeps us completely riveted throughout. Adding to the intrigue is the circular nature of both Abbys' circumstances, with pieces of their separate lives consistently repeating and making themselves known in each of the girls’ realities. Their connection then becomes more than a simple uninterrupted circle, transforming instead into a celtic knot that consists of a number of intersecting fragments that weave in and out of one another but ultimately lead back to the very beginning.

There are strong romances for both the younger and older versions of Abby, and Ms. Miller keeps us on our toes with a variety of twists and turns, as well as cause and effect situations, that constantly show us how all the pieces of the girls’ lives relate back to one another. Many a reader may take a stutter step or two (or ten) as they try to navigate the time discrepancy between younger and older Abby and exactly how that influences all the people around them, but ultimately this story makes us think, question, and constantly ask “what if”, ensuring it’s one we don’t easily forget the minute we pick the next book up.

Rating: 4/5
 

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61 comments:

  1. Loved this book too Jenny!!!! The whole parallel universe idea was great even though it took me a while to get behind the basiscs of this all…

    I LOVED her friendship with Caitlin so freaking much, was one of the best aspects!

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    1. YAY! I think we just really like when there are two romances in a single book, romance lovers that we are:) And yes, Caitlin was awesome!

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  2. I really liked Parallel, too! Abby was a great character and I loved the plot with the intertwined realities. Amazing review :)

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    1. Yay, I'm so glad! I adored Abby, both versions of her:)

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  3. I'm so afraid of these parallel universe/multiverse books. That I won't understand them or be able to catch on to the world. I have trouble with time travel books sometimes so I'm not sure if these are for me. I know you've read at least on other one besides this one and liked the idea of other Jenny's out there. I remember that from the review. So you think she explains it well.
    Maybe I'll read over someone's shoulder in the
    bookstore. See if I am smart enough or if the book is smarter than me. I like how you describe her two lives as more like a Celtic knot than a circle

    Heather

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  4. Very freaky and yes that appeals to me :D

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    1. Excellent, I hope you give it a try:)

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  5. Recently I found myself drawn to stories dealing with parallel universes, but I don't think I've come across one when the character is the same person but living their life one year apart. I think like you I would find this concept initially difficult to get my head around, but I think the premise would have me hooked. I would be fascinated learning about how one life would impact the other and also fully invested in the romance too. I can't believe I didn't pay attention to this book before it sounds brilliant! :)

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    1. It's a very cool premise! Took a little while before my head stopped hurting thinking about the collision, but once Abby figured out what was going on and the various character relationships got started, I just loved it:)

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  6. been waiting for the released of this book. I'm intrigued with hot the parallel universe and different timeline will play out to the story. And I like stories that can make me think and question a lot of things, so definitely this one is a must read for me.

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    1. I hope you like it as much as I did!

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  7. I've seen this book around but this is the first review for it that I'm reading. I must say that Abby sounds like and interesting character and someone you can connect to. I also haven't read a story about parallel universe so this goes on my to-read list :) Great review Jenny :)

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    1. I really liked Abby. I loved that she asked her friend for help and didn't just run around like a chicken with her head cut off trying to figure everything out on her own:)

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  8. Oh this actually sounds like a very interesting read. I love things that have a sliding doors affect. One that places is in two different times or versions of time and then shows us how choices make the outcomes different.

    Great review!

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    1. It was definitely a fascinating read Felicia. It was fun to see how younger Abby's actions affected older Abby's world. She would just wake up and things would be different:)

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  9. I loved the concept of this book, but overall it was just an okay read for me --even though I loved the authors style and would read more from her. I don't know - I just thought the whole thing was very confusing at times. I think the problem is partly me, though. Whenever I see a parallel universe novel I think 'Wow! So cool!' Then when I read it, I'm like 'meh!' Happens every time! :/

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    1. It was definitely confusing at times Leanna! I just sort of had to stop thinking about it at times, and just lose myself in the characters:)

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  10. "Parallel is a story it takes a little while to warm to."

    I'd say! I've been trying for two weeks and I still haven't managed. I can't seem to get through those firt few chapters, but I scheduled a review for the release date so I suppose I'll have to. Agh.
    But I AM curious about this game of cause and consequence the two Abbies play and knowing that it does get interesting after those few chapters helps a lot.
    Can't wait to compare notes. A gorgeously written review as usual, my friend.

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    1. Yes, this was a tricky one Maja! I'll be interested to see if you enjoy it once you get past all the explanations in the beginning:)

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  11. Unfortunately this sounds like something that would thouroughly CONFUSE the crap out if this brunettte! Parallel universes and stories happening simultaneously a year apart?? My head it already spinning! LMAO

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    1. Hahaha it's definitely confusing at times Ashley! You just sort of have to go with it because if you start thinking about it too hard, you'll get a headache. Once I got into both girls' stories though, everything became a bit clearer. It's one of those things that really needs to be shown rather than told, and she shows it after the first couple chapters.

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  12. I definitely like the sound of a character that can admit they need help! That's so sorely lacking in so much of YA. This definitely sounds like it's right up my alley though...as I'm sure you know haha Great review, Jenny! :D

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    1. Agreed. Abby ran straight to her best friend and I loved that she did:)

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  13. Cool - a believable explanation for parallel universes? Awesome. But it's also good that the author doesn't bog the story down with too much complex science. I'm not sure if I've ever read a parallel universe story that has the MC differing in ages so that's cool. And your description of how they are connected and how circular it is - also cool. Basically, the overwhelming feeling I get from this novel based off you review is "cool" :) I just love parallel universes!

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    1. There's a bit of science in the beginning when Abby gets an explanation from a professor, but after that you just get to see how the two lives intertwine and that was fun for me:)

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  14. I totally flip-flopped on this one and, ultimately, decided not to request it (not usually a fan of the parallel lives concept). And, because I'm in a bit of a reading slump, it's probably best that I didn't 'cause I might not have given it the chance it deserves. However, it's going on my summer readin list!

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    1. Probably not a good book for a slump. It takes a little getting used to, but I highly recommend for later when you get your groove back:)

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  15. I love that this one has twists and turns in it to keep you sucked in. I have such a hard time wrapping my head around time travel and parallel universe novels, my mind just doesn't work for them so I don't think this would be one for me. But I am really liking that cover! I love a good white cover these days. Great review, Jenny!

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    1. This one was one of the harder parallel universe stories for me to really get my head around, so if you typically don't care for them, this is definitely not the read for you:)

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  16. YAAAAAAY! I'm glad you loved it. I couldn't help but draw parallels (heh - get it? See what I did there? God damn, I'm witty!) to another novel I adored intensely with a simliar premise. *cough*PivotPoint*cough*

    But I'm really looking forward to Lauren's spin on it. I'll be reading this one soon, and I'm kinda excited about the dual love stories and lives she'll lead.

    Very awesome review, Jenny - I can't wait for this!

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    1. You are hilarious. And of course witty to the extreme ;-) While on the surface this seems similar to PivotPoint, once you get in there they're very different. Two lives, two romances yes, but the guts are all different:)

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  17. Great minds think alike! I have this one on my blog today as well and I really liked it too! Such a fun story and fun way of doing it.

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    1. *high five for Parallel reviews* Glad you enjoyed it as well:)

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  18. This book sounds all twisty and weird...the whole dual life with different love interests, yeah sign me up please!!!!

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    1. Right? Two love interests for two different lives = WIN.

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  19. I love the premise of this book, but I do get nervous about how believable the plot is. I'm glad to hear that there are a lot of details regarding the parallel universes; I always think that the more background/explanation, the better. I also like how the book makes you think "what if." It's such a fun concept; I definitely think I will check this one out. Great review as always, Jenny!

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    1. There's definitely a plausible (though I use this term fairly loosely) explanation for what happens and she gives plenty of detail, so I think you'll be pleased with that aspect:)

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  20. This sounds like a very complex book--but in the best of ways. The interrelated time thing is very intriguing, though, and I like being forced to think about the what ifs. Good stuff, Jenny. Good stuff.

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  21. I am so not the person who asks for help. I am stubborn that way. I always try to do things on my own and if I can't, then I WILL. Sometimes it's really difficult and causes more trouble then good for me, but I can't help it! It's who I am. I want to do everything on my own. I guess pride is one of the seven deadly sins for a reason, heh. I like that the heroine is humble and fun though. I do believe that every decision we make affects our future etc, even the little ones, so I'm so intrigued by this book. I LOVE that cover btw! It's so very prettyyy-hh:-) Thanks for sharing, hon!

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  22. This sounds like such an original take on parallel timelines! I already had planned on reading this one, so I'm looking forward to seeing how it all plays out. I love that you compare her interconnected timelines to a celtic knot. I'm sure I'll have that image in my mind when I read it now. :-) Beautiful review Jenny!

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  23. This one sounds so intriguing, Jenny! I like the sound of Abby too and I'm curious to see how well the young and old Abbies are pulled off. Is it a standalone?

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  24. I actually wasn't sure about this one. I can see why the plot would become so twisty and I can also see how hard that would be to pull it off successfully. Sounds like she is able to do it well even if it takes a bit to really get into the story. Hm... do think I'll add it to the wishlist. You have me curious!

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  25. I've heard a lot of mixed things about this book - and Pivot Point which seems similar - but I'm glad you enjoyed this one, Jenny! I'm not sure it's my cup of tea, but I'm curious to check it out now.

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  26. The cover whore in me wanted an excuse to buy this book..thank you Jenny for delivering it!! Awesome review and this sounds like something I will enjoy despite the slow start!!

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  27. This is sitting in my old pile. I haven't delved into one of these parallel world books yet this year and I want to. I like the idea of younger and older Abby. I will be on my toes when I read this!

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  28. I have this one on my pile to read this month though I'm not for sure it will get read since the pile is so huge. I have to say that it sounds really good but I'm slightly concerned about everything going over my head. I'm still excited to pick it up and give it a read though!

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  29. Yay, more books with parallel universes! This makes me happy since I think this particular concept is really interesting and can be taken in a lot of different directions. Thank goodness Miller doesn't info-dump/make things confusing! The fact that the parallel world is a young & old version of a character just intrigues me. And there's romance in both?! I need to pick up my own copy and read it ASAP, thanks for the lovely review, Jenny!

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  30. That's funny--I was looking at both Northwestern and Yale for college, ha ha. Sounds like an interesting book!

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  31. I have this one too Jenny, and I have to say it makes my head hurt just a little thinking about it. I'll have to be confident that it's not too overwhelming. I'm wondering which romantic interest she ends up with and if the parallel lives ever merge into one. Wonderful review, Jenny. I'll have to pick this up sooner rather than later. :)

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  32. I really like the sound of Abby, especially because you mentioned that she's able to ask for help when she needs it. I also like the concept of this one but I hope the plot doesn't too complicated.

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  33. This is such a fascinating concept. It's not something that's been done a whole lot. I'm particularly interested in the year difference in time btw the parallel characters.

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  34. Touche. Great arguments. Keep up the amazing effort.

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  35. Oh! Now I'm really excited about this one! I remember running across it on Goodreads, but yours is the first review I've run across.

    BUT. I'm kind of terrified by the concept that the smallest decision or act can completely reshape your future. If I thought about it too much, I'd become too afraid to do anything. EVEN LEAVE THIS COMMENT!

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  36. Hi Jenny! I felt this book repeated a plot for me. Like I have already read a book like this before. For me, it was still good. Thanks for the nice review.

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  37. I read a few negative reviews for this book a month or so ago, so it seemed to have slipped off my radar until recently. Now all I see are positive reviews. :) The concepts here definitely appeal to me - I love getting my head around all that stuff. I'll try to pick it up. Great review, lovely!

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  38. Oooh man this one sounds so good! Quiet frankly, I stay as far away from books with multi universes since I can be such a picky reader! But I'm glad that the character is wonderful in this book!

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  39. I have been seeing some really great reviews on this book. I am really excited to read it myself. After Pivot Point I am kind of obsessed with Parallel universes and butterfly effects. I am glad this even through all the scientific hoopla this one was still enjoyable for you.

    Great review,

    Sara @ Just Another Story

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