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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Review: 3:59

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
by Gretchen McNeil

Plot Summary:

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?


Gretchen McNeil writes some amazing suspense stories, and 3:59 is another great one.  The concept alone is chilling, so I was surprised by how much horror was put into the plot.  The creatures in the parallel universe are so creepy, and the way the people have to live to cope with them makes it pretty important that Josie return to her own universe.  I loved the set-up and execution of this story though for many more reasons.

Josie's life in her own time is full of high school drama and an unhappy family situation.  It is a little shallow when compared to things to come, but perfectly captures what teenagers feel, and how these things seem so important to them.  But there was a sense of humor about it - particularly in how Josie reacted to some situations.  And in the snowballing effect of all the drama that piles on her.  All the characters in this book did feel very familiar - the usual stereotypes you see in a teen thriller which made it easy to focus on the mystery of the parallel universes and why Jo is so eager to switch places with Josie.

I was really impressed by how much effort the author put into giving the parallel universes a valid scientific basis.  Some of the descriptions and explanations might have gone over my head a little, but it definitely helped to make the world-building realistic.  I love that Josie is smart in science and math and that it helped her get out of her predicament.  She's a strong character and I admired that she acted well on both intellect and intuition.

The resolution of this story was edge-of-your-seat stuff, with a fantastic twist.  The actual outcome for the characters was a little open-ended which was disappointing, but fitting because they were in such a difficult situation.  I don't believe there is going to be a second book, so the reader can resolve it in their own way.



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  1. Oh, nice! I've been debating on whether or not to read this one but now I will be sure to pick it up. I love fast paced books that are unpredictable.

    1. This is the book for you then! :) I always know when I read one of Gretchen McNeil's books that I will finish it within a day or two - they just suck me in! :)

  2. I don't know... I started it reading and couldn't get into the story so I DNF it :-(

    1. Sorry to hear that! This one reminds me of those teen thrillers I used to read voraciously in high school - for instance by Christopher Pike, R.L. Stine, and Lois Duncan. So if you like those kinds of books, this one fits in with that - except there's a bit more science and thought behind it with the parallel universe.

  3. I love Gretchen McNeil! I've read all her books but this one, though I own it. It's so great to see you loved it enough to give it a 5 star!

    1. Yes, I hope you love it too (though it seems like you will since you are such a fan of Gretchen's!)

  4. I've not read a single Gretchen McNeil book, though they all look so interesting to me! That's something that'll have to change, since obviously they're good! I'm glad to see that this was thrilling and based in some kind of science (even if I don't understand it, I like to know it makes some kind of sense!) Great review, Charlene! :)

    1. Yes, please try one of her books! Ten or this one I would recommend highly! Probably if I reread this one I would understand the science more- I think it was explained well - I was just really impatient to get to the resolution for this one - so many twists! :)