Parallel by Lauren Miller: 3 ½ stars
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.
I went into Parallel thinking there would be high supernatural elements, the main focus on Parallel Abby and how that worked. Though we do get some great scenes with Dr. Mann explaining cosmic entanglement and the concept of shared reality (which turned out to be extremely interesting. Honestly, I’m glad I read the book just to learn more about this.) But after that, the book turns into a very high school esque cliché.
I understand the romance is supposed to be sweet and the reader is supposed to feel sympathetic for Abby’s confusion and panic over her life constantly flip-flopping so randomly, but I wasn’t impressed with the execution of such an interesting story.
The beginning was interesting enough to keep me hooked, but around page 80 I started slogging, reading a few pages, and setting the book down for days at a time. After you hit the half-point, the pace picks up and it’s interesting until the end, but those hundred pages or so before that were pretty difficult to get through.
I did like Abby as our narrator. I think she was reasonably smart, interesting, and relatable. She wasn’t nearly as frustrating as many YA protagonists I’ve come across lately. The secondary characters are also entertaining, though Miller sort of side steps them so she can focus on Abby’s relationships in both the real world and the parallel one.
The book was extremely interesting, and the ending was satisfying. If you’re a patient reader, definitely give this one a try.
Parallel is available in hardcover, ebook, and paperback (UK only for paperback). Parallel is Lauren Miller’s debut novel, a standalone, and was published June 6th 2013 by Scholastic.
If you’ve read Parallel, share your thoughts in the comments, or let me know if you’re thinking about picking it up!
- Parallel by Lauren Miller (2headstogether.wordpress.com)
- YA Debut Author Bash: Interview with Lauren Miller + Giveaway! (bookblogbake.com)