Review: 3:59 by Gretchen McNeil

Josie Byrne’s life is spiraling out of control. Her parents are divorcing, her boyfriend Nick has grown distant, and her physics teacher has it in for her. When she’s betrayed by the two people she trusts most, Josie thinks things can’t get worse.

Until she starts having dreams about a girl named Jo. Every night at the same time—3:59 a.m.

Jo’s life is everything Josie wants: she’s popular, her parents are happily married, and Nick adores her. It all seems real, but they’re just dreams, right? Josie thinks so, until she wakes one night to a shadowy image of herself in the bedroom mirror – Jo.

Josie and Jo realize that they are doppelgängers living in parallel universes that overlap every twelve hours at exactly 3:59. Fascinated by Jo’s perfect world, Josie jumps at the chance to jump through the portal and switch places for a day.

But Jo’s world is far from perfect. Not only is Nick not Jo’s boyfriend, he hates her. Jo’s mom is missing, possibly insane. And at night, shadowy creatures feed on human flesh.

By the end of the day, Josie is desperate to return to her own life. But there’s a problem: Jo has sealed the portal, trapping Josie in this dangerous world. Can she figure out a way home before it’s too late?

From master of suspense Gretchen McNeil comes a riveting and deliciously eerie story about the lives we wish we had – and how they just might kill you.

          Hmm. Where do I begin? 

         Honestly, I’m a bit disappointed by the book. I really, really enjoyed the concept when I first heard it at an author fair. However, I’m not too enthralled by the execution. The pacing is inconsistent, there’s unnecessary romance or romantic moments, and overall I never really cared about… well any of the characters. 

          I know. That’s harsh, but perhaps it’s my current jaded attitude towards Young Adult novels or it’s that I might have had way too high expectations for this book ( I wouldn’t put it past me, to be honest). 

          In general, I felt that the backstory for Josie, our great heroine, was just both rushed and dragged out at the same time. It’s kind of an odd way to describe it, but I felt that McNeil tried too hard to get the audience to sympathize with Josie in such a short time span that it almost turned melodramatic. There’s a lot going wrong in Josie’s life, which isn’t the part I had a problem with–but, Josie’s overall attitude was probably what irritated me the most. You know, the whole “woe is me” attitude that seems to stem from teenagers going through their trials of teenage angst ‘n all that. I really tried hard to sympathize with Josie, but I honestly just couldn’t stand it. 

          Nick, the boyfriend, kind of is a jerk in Josie’s universe, but in Jo’s universe, Nick becomes the perfect boyfriend. You know how there’s the Manic Pixie Dream Girl? This is almost like the Manic Pixie Dream Boy. Nick is hurt, but he’s really kind and sincere, and he also really likes Josie for all the right reasons. He’s also this great guy who despite gaining some major injuries, is able to fully protect Josie. See where I’m going? It’s too good to be true. So good in fact, that I became very distant to the idea of Nick and ended up disliking a lot of Nick ver. 2 and Josie’s relationship.

          One of my biggest gripes, however, was how incredibly predictable almost everything in this novel was. I called almost all of the plot twists a mile away and it made the reading so much less enjoyable. It was really upsetting when I read something and just went “oh, well called that…”
It’s not all bad though. I enjoyed the sci-fi aspect that was brought into this novel. How much of the science is real science? Sorry, wouldn’t be able to tell you. I’m not really an expert in quantum mechanics. However, I did really like the inclusion of science and the world building for Jo’s universe.

          Overall, I felt that the novel could have been longer or fleshed out a bit more. It’s a pretty short and quick read, but I think I would’ve liked it more if it extended on a lot of the ideas that were simply touched upon during the story.

Final Thoughts: Great idea, not so great execution and it made the reading kind of a burden.

Details:

Title: 3:59
Author: Gretchen McNeil
Published: September 17, 2013 
Pages: 368
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