Sunday, November 9, 2014

Review: Parallel

Parallel by Lauren Miller
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: May 14th, 2013
Source: Library
Date Read: 11/2/14 to 11/7/14
448 Pages

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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So that ending was a complete and utter shock, but I really should've seen it coming, HONESTLY I SHOULD HAVE EXPECTED IT.

But no. oh no. 

I've had Parallel on my Goodreads TBR list for so long, that when I spotted it at the library, I immediately took it out. I've been going on a huge science-y trend for a while (and it's also Sci-Fi November, what a coincidence, not that I'm participating, sadly), so I thought this would be a great addition to my review list.

It really did not disappoint. At all. 

The story itself is incredibly original. We have Abby, living the life of a Hollywood star. After somehow being spotted by a famous director while performing in her high school play due to drama class, she's been casted for a role in a movie. Unfortunately due to that, college has been pushed back, and she realizes that this isn't really what she wanted.

CUE PARALLEL LIFE COLLISION! Abby wakes up in a dorm room at Yale, with no idea what she's doing there, and wondering why she's not in L.A. After a few calls, she finds out that her past self, or Parallel Abby, ended up not taking the drama class, but astronomy instead, leading her to never get the lead role in the play. So there you have it, Abby is now at college.

Except there's a catch. Abby has a one year memory gap, which is being filled by her parallel self. Basically, any choice that Parallel Abby makes will affect the present, causing Abby not to wake up to the same present.

I know what you're thinking. "Val, how is this possible? There's no way they could've explained all the science without disappointing anyone. There's definitely gotta be plot holes here and there." Well....hmmm. To be honest. Yes, I would've loved a science-y explanation on how all came to be, and why only Abby was able to remember both her and her Parallel self's memory. But you know what? Miller made a good choice in leaving some of the information out. It really emphasized the message of the whole book.

“That's the funny thing about life. We're rarely aware of the bullets we dodge. The just-misses. The almost-never-happeneds. We spend so much time worrying about how the future is going to play out and not nearly enough time admiring the precious perfection of the present.”

And then, there are the characters. Other than some under-developed minor characters here and there, the main important ones, Caitlin, Tyler, and Josh, were clearly developed, though the story itself mainly focused on the switching of POV between Parallel Abby and "real" Abby. 

I loved how a decision that Parallel Abby made in the past affected the situation that "real" Abby was in in such a huge way. It just emphasized the fact that a small decision, like which class you choose, affects your future, although I think getting a major movie deal is a little out there. Since I was so focused on how "real" Abby was going to handle everything, I didn't connect much with the characters. But that was fine with me, since the ending just destroyed me.

And it wasn't even that shocking of an ending! I'm the type of person that works really hard for anything and everything, so to see all of Abby's hard work unwound simply due to her stupid Parallel self really put me on edge. I hated seeing everything that Abby lost, even though in the end it all worked out. And that's the message of the book, I suppose. That everything works out, and everything is okay in the end. 

So yep, as you can tell, I loved, loved, LOVED Parallel. It tackled science fiction, and deeper issues without going over the top into confusing topics. No paradoxes, no confusing science terms, just an amazing story told in an original way.  
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