Author: Lauren Miller
Release Date: 05/14/2013
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars
Goodreads Description: 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.
Thoughts: I made the mistake of trying to read this one after I finished Fangirl, one of my favorite, if not THE favorite, books of 2013. A pretty impossible standard to live up to and about 15 pages in I just wasn’t feeling this. But, I am so happy I came back to this one after a few weeks! I ended up being pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this one.
The hardest thing in this book for me was the science stuff. I’ve never taken a physics class and I have no idea about parallel worlds and parallel me’s living in those parallel worlds. I’m also taking lots of sciences classes now for grad school and I just did not have the brain capacity to try to seriously understand the ideas behind these crazy parallel worlds. But, as I read, I kind of came to understand the ideas behind the parallel worlds by osmosis and I found it really fascinating.
The story opens with Abby in LA, filming an action movie with some big Hollywood stars. It’s not the life she ever imagined for herself, but after a last minute schedule change at the beginning of senior year landed her in a drama class and a coincidence brought a casting director to her performance, and she ends up missing most of her senior year of high school to take a chance on doing this movie. Abby always thought she’d go to Northwestern and be a journalist, but as the movie gets pushed farther and farther back it becomes clear that she’s not going to start college on time.
Then Abby wakes up the morning of her eighteenth birthday and she’s not in LA, she’s in New Haven, at Yale, at the beginning of her freshman year. She doesn’t know how she ended up there, she thinks she’s supposed to be back in LA, and she doesn’t know anything about her roommate or what she’s doing at Yale. Luckily her best friend Caitlin is a science genius and Abby is able to confide in Caitlin about what happened and together they figure out that Abby has a parallel living in a parallel world that’s a year and a day behind the world that Abby and Caitlin are in.
In my mind there are three Abby’s in the book: the Abby at the beginning who’s shooting a movie in LA, the Abby that wakes up at Yale (who’s technically the same as LA Abby), and parallel Abby. I’m happy to say that I really liked all the Abby’s. She’s a little bit of an annoying overachiever, but mostly she’s just really normal. Even though this is kind of a sci-fi-lite book everything felt so normal and relateable because, minus the crazy parallel worlds, everything Abby did was what a 17-year-old or 18-year-old would do.
Every decision that Abby’s parallel makes affects Abby. For instance, one day she wakes up and she’s the coxswain of the Yale crew team, something she has no idea how to do. Turns out that her parallel hurt her foot, couldn’t run cross country, joined the crew team, and was recruited to Yale for crew. It sounds weird, but as you get into the story and figure out the pacing and the pattern it begins to make sense. Abby also only gains her parallel’s memories back as the parallel time passes.
There’s also two really interesting romances. Parallel Abby meets a really cute boy in her astronomy class (in the parallel world Abby was late to school and couldn’t pick drama and had to pick astronomy) and they begin dating. But the current Abby knows nothing about that guy. She took drama and pretty much missed her senior year of high school, she’s only learning about her relationship with him as time passes. At Yale she meets another really cute guy who she really likes, but she’s afraid to get close to him because she’s afraid her parallel self will make a decision that won’t lead her to Yale or otherwise mess up her chances with the guy.
This all sounds really wacky, and it is, it’s kind of a very realistic kind of science fiction, but it’s also not science fiction that I personally find to be realistic. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying the book. I was really invested in what was going to happen to Abby. Her parallel was driving me nuts, I wanted Abby to be happy at Yale with her best friend, great roommate, and cute guy; every time I got to a parallel chapter (the book alternated between the present world and the parallel world) I was so afraid for Abby.
The ending of the book got a little confusing with the parallel world and the present world, but I really liked the message of having a destiny that is constant, but also having different ways to get there.
Bottom Line: This is a book that definitely takes a while to figure out (I guess unless you’re a physicist). I never bought into the idea of parallel worlds while reading, but I thought the explanation worked in the story and I was very concerned with how it was all going to play out. There’s also interesting, normal characters and a romance that I was surprised to find myself really drawn to.