Thursday, May 30, 2013

Parallel (Book Review)

Thursday, May 30, 2013 11:15 AM with 8 comments

Author: Lauren Miller
Publisher: HarperTeen
Number of Pages: 419
Release Date: May 14, 2013

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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've always been fascinated by the idea of parallel worlds/lives. I can't even tell you how many times I've seen the 1998 movie Sliding Doors, but I know it would take at least both hands (and possibly a foot) to count. The idea that one small decision can have vast effects on our lives is both exhilarating and terrifying. I love that parallel worlds/lives/multiverses are having its YA moment and like how most of these stories are really more contemporary than paranormal or dystopian.

Abby wants nothing more than to get into Northwestern and major in journalism. She has her entire senior year mapped out to help charter the course to a Northwestern acceptance when her plans get way-laid. On the first day of school she finds out that one of the courses she is signed up for has been cancelled and she must chose between Drama Methods and Principles of Astronomy. She chooses Drama knowing it will be a cake walk compared to Astronomy. From there, she ends up trying out for the school play and getting the lead. A prominent casting director sees her performance and casts her in a big budget action flick with movie star, Bret Woodward. Shooting for the movie is behind schedule and keeps getting pushed further and further back which is how Abby finds herself alone in Hollywood on her 18th birthday instead of at Northwestern as she's always dreamed. On the night of her birthday she notices that the sky looks crazy and then an earthquake hits.

The day after her birthday she wakes Yale. Confused and terrified she immediately tracks down her best friend, Caitlin, who she knows is thankfully attending Yale, too. It turns out in this new world Abby didn't take Drama Methods she took Principles of Astronomy and this simple change of fate has changed her whole life.

The twist of this parallel worlds story isn't that it goes back and forth between life at Yale and life in Hollywood like I was expecting it to after reading the first couple of chapters, but instead follows Abby's life at Yale and Abby's life as a senior in high school. You see the earthquake wasn't actually an earthquake at all, but instead a parallel world running into ours. This parallel world has enveloped our world and everybody, but Abby it seems, has absorbed their parallel's memories as their own and have gone about their daily lives none the wiser. Abby, however, remembers her "correct" life as the one that led her to Los Angles. The parallel world took over a year prior and so now Abby is imprisoned by the decisions her parallel is making during "their" senior year. (That is super convoluted, I know, I tried to make the explanation as simple as possible--the book goes way more in depth about the philosphy of parallel worlds and the specifics of how this happened.)

Of course, there is romance in both worlds. At Yale, there is the gorgeous Michael who Abby wakes up hoping she is still dating every morning (she's just hoping she'll wake up in the same room every morning), while back in high school Parallel Abby has met a boy in her astronomy class. Because they aren't even in the same plane of existence it isn't really a love triangle and I was anxious to find out how it would all end up.

I really enjoyed this book. This take on parallel worlds was original and well done. While I'm not especially science-minded I enjoyed reading the philosphy behind how this could have happened and thought the idea seemed well researched and thought out. I loved her friendship with the science-savy Caitlin and her sometimes on/sometimes off relationship with their mutual friend Tyler (Parallel Abby's actions keep changing their relationship, too).

I have a couple of small complaints. I thought the couple of people she told about parallel worlds swallowed the whole concept a little too easy. If somebody tried to explain their behavior using a parallel worlds story I would be like: alright, put the crack pipe down and slowly back away. But whatever, maybe that's just me. I thought one of the "leading men" was vastly under-developed, which made the other the clear favorite.

Overall, I found Parallel to be fresh and fun. I would definitely recommend this if you are looking for a quick summer read.

* I received a copy of this novel from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. *


  1. "If somebody tried to explain their behavior using a parallel worlds story I would be like: alright, put the crack pipe down and slowly back away."

    Agreed. lol :)

    I thought Parallel was fun too!

    Sabrina @iheartyafiction

    1. Everyone was just like: Ok, yeah. That makes sense. Besides that, I really did enjoy this one. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Wow! This looks so amazing! The theme is so unique and interesting. Great review! :)
    (Pretty Little Memoirs - a YA book blog.)

    1. Thanks, Becca! It is a fun and unique book. Definitely recommend. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Wow this looks so good. I love the idea. and great review. It really gave me a good sense as to what the book is like.


    1. Thanks, Daydreamer! It is a great idea and pretty well executed. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I LOVE the idea of parallel worlds/lives and watched Sliding Doors a bunch in college. I had a roomie who got me hooked on it! So, needless to say, this book has definitely intrigued me. I am glad to hear it was entertaining, but the fact that the people she told about the parallel world did not question it would drive me nuts as well. I may try to get this one out of the library. Thanks for the great review.

    1. Sliding Doors is the best. I love that movie. It is a good one to snag from the library. I can't imagine every feeling the need to re-read it. Honestly, she doesn't tell that many people, so that is truly a small complaint. Thanks for stopping by!


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