I received this book for free from Publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Parallel by Lauren Miller
Published by HarperTeen on May 14th, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Parallel Universes, Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
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.
Parallel is an absorbing, touching, and heartfelt read that completely surprised me. It may have some issues that keep it from being perfect, but for me the enjoyment factor was through the roof.
The main character, Abby, is an example of a flawed, sometimes dumb, sometimes fickle main character that works. I may have questioned her at times (I mean, who is so stupid that they’re going to walk through a construction site barefoot? That was bound to go wrong.) but minor issues aside, her character felt very real to me. The flaws she has, the stupid things she does, they feel very high school, and I was sort of transported back to those days in my life. I did stupid shit as well, but I grew from it, and I feel like you could see that in subtle ways in Abby as well. She may not have been the most likable character (especially if you’re a fan of those super strong, independent female characters) but I felt it was a very honest depiction of a high school senior/college freshman.
The romance was heartfelt, touching, one of the better ones I’ve read in a while. It really took me back to my high school days and my stupid obsessive crushes. It was adorable in that way. But the ultimate message of the romance is one of fate and soulmates. There is a danger to treading that path: you can either get really sappy or cliché, or you can throw believability totally out the window. Neither was an issue here, in my mind. The idea of parallel worlds with a shared sense of destiny and soulmates just works. It plays into the hopeless romantic in me but it didn’t really feel predictable or cliché. It just worked. It was meant to be that way. I finished the book with this insane smile because the ending was just so perfect for the story, and it really made me feel that happy. It almost made me a bit sad that this is a stand alone and I don’t get to have any more.
So yes, this story is very much romance-centric. I wouldn’t want you to get the wrong idea. Parallel worlds does indicate a sort of science fiction story, but it felt much more like a contemporary romance. It having been weeks since I read the blurb, I had no expectations, so maybe that helped. The parallel worlds idea itself was perhaps not the best developed. The science involved was very dubious and at times opened the story up to plot holes, but I ignored it for the enjoyment factor, and the ending made that worth it for sure. So if you’re turned off by questionable science, you may want to steer clear here, but if you’re a fan of touching romance, definitely give it a go.
Overall, a lot of the themes of the book just had an infectious feel good vibe. Aside from the soulmates in terms of love, which plays on the hopeless romantic in me, the story also goes that way for friendships. The friendship between Abby and her best friend Caitlin is so true and deep, that they are also soulmates in that way. It was touching to see that, though they have their issues and arguments, they’re always there for each other. Oh god, is that a tear in my eye? And as for the idea of destiny, while that holds the inherent danger of striding into deeply religious talk, it did not go that way. It worked with the idea parallel worlds – that some things are fixed, though the paths to get there may be different. Maybe I’ve been watching too much Doctor Who (*cough* yes I have) but I totally loved that idea. And it didn’t feel religious, cliché, or exasperating. It just worked.
Summing Up:I didn’t expect to enjoy this anywhere near how much I actually did. Low expectations may have helped there, a bit. It’s not a flawless book, but man was I totally absorbed by the story. For once in my life, I wish there was a sequel, and I’m sad that there won’t be. If you’re ever in need of a feel-good book or in a hopeless romantic mood, I’d say, give it a shot!
And for god’s sake, publishers: give me more parallel universe books! After Pivot Point and this, it’s turning out to be one of my favorite concepts.