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[Book Review] - 3:59 by Gretchen McNeil

Title: 3:59
   Series: Gretchen McNeil
   Format: Hardback
   Release Date: September 17th, 2013
   My Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0

     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.

My Review:

     3:59 was supposed to be this overwhelming thriller and I fully expected it to be, having read Ten. However what I got was a sci-fi book with an underwhelming sense of thrill wrapped around it. I let go of the thriller expectation and just read the book as a new unique novel. Overall the book was great and with a multiverse, time-space continuum aspect it propelled this book forward. I enjoyed it, and I think how different it was compared to what I thought it was going to be is why I enjoyed this book.

     Josie is a typical girl with her normal high school friends, however in the beginning of the story we understand that her whole world is turning upside down. Her parents are separated, her mother is completely distant, her job is on the line and because of a train she loses it, and her boyfriends cheats on her with her best friend. She is lonely, desperate and seeking any companionship, so when she realizes that her mothers research opens a hole to another universe, she jumps at the chance to switch places.

     Josie and Jo are the same girl however there are two completely different aspects to their worlds. In Jo's world her mother is deemed psychotic and is placed in a ward of sorts. Further her "boyfriend" in her world isn't at all interested and for a lack of better words hates her in Jo's world. With the notion that maybe she can spend some time and be with Nick (under the impression that they are best friends, and Jo blatantly lies to her), she jumps across universes.

     On the other side, Josie finds out that everything Jo has said is frankly completely false and while I love how Josie tries harder to get back to her life that's falling apart, than what she gains in this life. However at the same, the world at night is ravaged by giant black monsters that fly and eat anything that's not in some sort of spot light. Further Jo's father is some powerful official that keeps lights on to families who can afford it, and Jo has been using her way to the top with that power. "Do what she says or my father will turn your lights off."

     The characters were great and while the Nick in Jo's world is far more interesting and a better man than Josie's ex-boyfriend, I found him to be the highly next to Josie. The romantic undertone through the thriller part to a next third aspect. However the times when the monsters did show up, the thrill and suspense picked up and it was done really well. Just how the genres were switched between made this book great and kept me reading. There isn't a time in which there won't be a page with something to grab your eye and make you want to keep reading and into the next chapter.

     Now there was times in the romance that the thriller and romance spilled over. As for instance near the end there was a bit or romance between Nick and Josie and they for a lack of better words made out. Afterwards it was rudely interrupted by a mutilated foot. Yea it's gross and while it would staunch any teenage hormones, it frankly puts into focus the disparity of that second world. I enjoyed it, however I can see why some people would think this is unbelievable and unrealistic. I viewed it as a aspect of that world, people are constantly dying; while Josie may not be used to it, the people of that world may be.

     Further the friends in that second world that Josie has and how she gained their trust, are all flat out geniuses including Josie. How does a town do that? I mean who knows quantum physics in high school. That's the biggest downfall. I don't think you need to explain why the universes happened in the detail that was done in this novel and frankly ruined the suspense or halted some of the action/thrill. I didn't buy into it. It's just useless information to me, and while I understand it was used to figure a way back, it just wasn't needed in the end. I hate to say it.

     In conclusion the book was great, but going into it thinking it's going to be this immense thriller will leave you with a salivating expectation that's left hungry. Think of it more as a new take on Fringe. The romance and the sci-fi bits in this novel are what made it great. Further Josie's growth and understand how great her life was previously compared to the world it could be was great (and YAY! for the ending conversation with her ex-boyfriend Nick). I enjoyed it and while I didn't expect this sort of a novel, I was able to get past those expectations and enjoy a great unique take on a romance in multiple universes. It was great.
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