Sunday, September 8, 2013

Review: PARALLEL by Lauren Miller

Title: Parallel
Author: Lauren Miller
Publication date: May 14, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: ARCycling

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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.


First line: I hesitate, then point my gun at him and pull the trigger.

Thank you, Lauren Miller. And ARCycling. And HarperTeen. I could go on with so many thanks and it would be totally plausible to do so because I absolutely loved this book. I had been on a good roll with books lately and was terrified of ruining things when it came to reading this. Multiple things could go wrong, my mind told me. Too confusing, too boring, too scientific, too whiny, too unlikable of the protagonist or not being able to connect with analyzing was clearly getting worse since I was being this way before I even opened the book. Thankfully, this proved my worries wrong then blew any expectations out of the way, and for good measure, sunk me into a book concussion. 

Note: Book concussion: state of being. Not as overwhelming as a book coma or book hangover, but still renders your reading and reviewing senses after finishing a fantastic book. You know you were affected by a book, and loved reading it, when you feel this sensation. 

The writing wasn't a work of genius that would make people think think, "This is so eloquent and full of depth." But I felt the emotion and most importantly, I connected. Hurrah! I felt like I was immediately invested into Abby and her life. I cared. I wondered. I sympathized. It was wonderful. 

While Abby, the main character, might annoy some people with her tendency to control and orchestrate all her surroundings, I understood. I have, ahem, the tendency to control, I admit it. When I see something that should happen, I either panic or get very determined and I decide it HAS to be done. Now...or even better, five minutes ago. So I understood. I also empathized with her and how she hates that one factor completely snowballed into a life she didn't want or plan for. She made excuses for a lot of things, but I think that's normal teen (or human) behavior. I wanted to give her a hug or at least a fist in the air of solidarity, showing her that she is definitely not alone in that. 

The main theme in the book surrounds destiny. It's said in the beginning that you can take different paths, but you will still have the same destiny. Different journey, same destination. Now, I won't even try to explain the plot. I had a semi-hard time keeping up in the beginning, but no worries, it's completely addicting so you won't care. Basically...okay, no, I really can't explain anything. 

There were many things I loved about this book, but there were a few key things that popped out to me. 

  • How Miller weaved everything together. One of the biggest, if not the biggest, conflicts Abby had was the fact that anything her parallel past self did, it would change her parallel present self suffered from it. A stupid walk on a construction site, an alarm going off late, butting in, all changes something later on and Abby has to quickly catch up because she's the only one that's lost and utterly confused. Not only that, but I figured out that any character Miller writes in is not for pure fluff, they really matter. The ones with names really have a part into Abby's story and I loved that. 
  • I thought a lot...and enjoyed doing so. Sometimes too much thinking can make me a little annoyed with a story, but I appreciated that I did in this one. I'm not just talking about the complicated parallel universe, but the lesson beneath it all. I wondered what choices I make throughout the day, which might seem insignificant to the big picture, can affect my life. Of course, I probably shouldn't put on any unnecessary pressure when it comes to decisions considering I suck at deciding things. Added points for Miller also pulling off all the scientific/physics stuff without being boring.
  • The narrative. I mentioned this above, but I really loved the narrative. Narratives, especially in first person, are so important in a book. Ms. Miller, you rocked it for me. 

With that, I did have a few negatives. 
  • The ending. OH MY GOSH WHAT IS UP WITH THAT? Picture this. I promised myself that I would go to bed no later than 11pm to train myself for work and school. I reached a good stopping place and put the book down. Then made several trips to go get it, constantly talking myself out of bringing it to my bedroom. Fast forward: I stayed up until 1am finishing it. I reached the end...then stared at the page slack-jawed. Some people might say that she ended it perfectly. I am not other people. I wanted to throw the book across the room. Note: Upon further review, I am 50/50 on whether or not the ending could be classified as a negative. I hated it, but it necessarily wasn't a bad thing. 

    The ending.
  • I can't go into this too much, but I wished she showed more of Josh. He was a critical part in her life (which I guessed, but didn't fully realize at first). I loved him and all, but I felt like something was missing for me to really love him as I read. 
  • Along with destiny, one of the main struggles in this alternate universe dilemma was who Abby would end up with. Who was her soul mate? Bleh. I don't believe in soul mates. Blame it on my upbringing, my senior pastor, or my realistic, analytical side. I know the term "soul mate" is very common in fiction, especially YA. However, I always roll my eyes when they play that card in books. I believe that certain people are more right for each other than another person might be. I believe my parents are meant to be together, but they do not "complete" each other. I won't continue preaching on how I feel about the subject. Just know that this element of the story made my eyes roll. 
Finally, I needed explanations. 
  • Tyler. What happened to him? After parallel past Abby kept messing up the past, I really felt bad for Tyler. He went from key character to...why is he here again? I wanted to know more! SPOILER Did the ending suggest that he and Caitlyn got back together since Abby switched back to reality? I'm confused! END OF SPOILER. 
  • Caitlyn and her relationship status. The spoiler really connects with Caitlyn as well and I'm just confused. However, I did like her role as a best friend throughout all this. Points for her!
  • Everything. 'Nuff said.
My sister said she thought she heard there was a sequel coming out. I don't see how that's possible with the ending. I mean, I guess it could be possible and it would help some, but a whole book? Anybody else heard of that? 

Mainly, I loved how Miller made me completely enthralled. Bravo. 

Verdict: A captivating story that just blew my mind. 


  1. *Applause* Love this review! Everything you said, the bullet point format, the gifs, everything's great! :) I'm glad you felt connected with Abby, I know that, for me, connecting with the MC can make the book 10x better for me. :)(BTW, I was just thinking how it was funny [or serendipitous] that both of our latest reviews are parallel universe books.) :)

    Alice @ Alice in Readerland

    1. So sweet, thank you! This made me blush and I loved it and my heart is happy. Agreed!
      (Ha, that is so funny!)

  2. No wonder we're friends, Sunny! I'm a control freak, too! :D And I always connect with characters who are because I can see a lot of myself in them, the good and the bad. And one thing that has to happen for me to enjoy what I'm reading is for me to connect with the characters on some level. Great review! I have this, and now you've really made me want to read it, with all your talk of terrible endings and soul mates. (I hate seeing that word in a synopsis!)

    1. Woo, control freaks unite! I often think I should go to some therapy group so that I can find other people like me to make myself feel better. Yay! I hope you like it :) And same here. It's one of my turn offs.

  3. I was a little afraid to scroll down when I saw you reviewed this because I loved it so much. I am one of those who enjoyed the ending. It's been awhile since I read it, but everything that was in place before her switch to the parallel was the same when she went back at the end, including Tyler's situation. Because she was only changing events in that parallel world. So happy you enjoyed it, though!

    1. Yay I'm glad you loved it so much too! Well, I understood that part...I guess I never connected it to Tyler.

  4. I really enjoyed this too. I thought the science and the romance and the friendship were all woven together really well. Great review!
    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics

  5. Your review makes me so excited to read this book. Seeing how all the choices play out sounds fascinating; that is always my favorite part of parallel universe/time travel stories. While it may not be good for my unhealthily indecisive mind, it does give you plenty to think about, which can be a great thing.

    All the "soul mate" references do sound annoying, though. I agree with you entirely on this subject, and I always roll my eyes at the "you complete me" line. YOU ARE A COMPLETE PERSON BY YOURSELF. It's not as if you can pick any random person and build a relationship, but you also don't have a person shaped hole in you that only one individual can fill.

    Still, this book sounds fantastic. I love stories that are addictive and thought-provoking at the same time, and I'm glad you enjoyed this one as well. :)

  6. I have this book, and I know Jasprit loved it too, but I'm a little afraid to pick it up after hearing about the ending. It does sound like a great premise. Wonderful review, Sunny! :)

  7. Came back to see your review, an you made so many good points about the positive things in the book that I sort of glazed over, ha ha! I did wonder about Tyler as well... he kind of fell off after a while and we didn't get real closure on him. Enjoyed reading your thoughts! :)