Monday, May 6, 2013

DNF Review: Parallel (Lauren Miller)

Title: Parallel
Series: standalone
Author: Lauren Miller
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: May 14, 2013
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Science Fiction
Told: First Person (Abby), Present Tense
Content Rating: Older Teen (up to Page 170: innuendo, underage drinking)
Format Read: ARC
Find On: Goodreads
Purchase OnAmazon | B&N | Book Depository

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.

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I did not finish this book. I read up to Page 170 (over 1/3 through the book).

The premise for Parallel is simple: after their parallel worlds collide, 18 year-old Abby has her life altered daily by the choices of her 17 year-old parallel self. While it could get a little technical at times, it was definitely an interesting idea - but unfortunately the idea wasn't good enough to overcome the book's problems for me.

First of all, the chapters were insanely long. I can understand that the author wanted to use the breaks to show the switch between the 17 and 18 year-old Abbys, but it would've been okay to have several chapters in a row about one girl and then switch to the other without the reader getting confused - the chapters were clearly labeled. With the book already over 400 pages long, the extended chapters made the story drag something awful. And staying with one Abby for so long made me forget there was another one, so when the chapter did finally switch I had to reorient myself to exactly which Abby it was and what was going on.

And then there was the fact that I didn't connect with Abby at all. I believe this was because of the plain writing style, and the fact that Abby's life was in no way exciting or unique that would make it interesting, even with all the uncertainties and upheaval. (Except the movie-set life, but that lasted all of one chapter. If it had gone the other way around, from college to movie-set, now that would've been exciting and interesting!) Her life was, simply, ordinary. And considering I came into the book looking for extraordinary (I mean, c'mon, parallel worlds), I had no desire to spend 400+ pages reading about an ordinary life altering in ordinary ways. 

Not that her "ordinary" life was realistic. Parallel existed in "television reality," where sex is casual, underage teen drinking is commonplace and easy because no one gets carded, and the only way to party is hard. The excessive drinking was what really got to me - the highschoolers had no problem getting their hands on booze and hangovers did nothing to deter them, and there was no carding or restraint in the college kids at all. Even though Abby was supposed to be little miss "Plan," there was no conscious thought about getting in trouble until after the fact, and no real consequences for any trouble that did occur unless it was important to the story. I'm sorry, but this can't possibly be reality for most teens - and if it is, God help us all.

Conclusion: This was definitely an interesting idea, and I'm sure most will love it. But for me personally, the writing was too plain, the chapters were way too long, and the setting just wasn't realistic. I tried to stick with it, I really did, but eventually I just couldn't take any more.

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