Genres: Mystery, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Published by Balzer & Bray, Harper Collins on 2013-09-17
Also by this author: Ten, Possess
From Possess and Ten author Gretchen McNeil comes a deliciously eerie science-fiction horror story in the tradition of Lisa McMann's Wake trilogy and the movie Sliding Doors.Josie Byrne's life is spiraling out of control. And just when she thinks it can't get worse, she wakes to an image of herself in the bedroom mirror. Except it's not her at all—the girl in the mirror is blonder and prettier. And her name is Jo.The two girls are doppelgängers whose universes overlap every twelve hours at 3:59. Fascinated by Jo's perfect world, Josie jumps at the chance to pass through the portal and switch places for a day.But Jo's world is far from perfect, and the stuff of nightmares lurks around every corner. And when Josie finds herself trapped there, her life becomes more dangerous—and more deadly—than she ever imagined.
After loving Gretchen McNeil’s Ten, I decided to give her latest book, 3:59 a shot. I’m beginning to think that maybe Ten was a wild-card because I was extremely disappointed with both Possess and 3:59. 3:59 has a killer premise, but in the end the plot felt too convoluted and messy to the point where I became irritated with this book. Parallel universe and multi-reality books are usually hit or miss for me and 3:59 clearly didn’t work for me.
At 3:59, Josie’s world collides with an alternate reality in which her doppelganger, Jo lives. On an impulse, the two decide to switch places because Josie is very eager to escape her present situation and welcomes a way to evade her life. Josie is sucked into a world very different from her own and soon, she realizes that she made a huge mistake.
The problem with 3:59 is that it tries to rely too heavily on scientific concepts and these concepts didn’t mesh well with the book. McNeil tried to make this parallel dimensions feel plausible by using scientific explanations, but the science she used was very theoretical and complex. I felt like the science in this novel didn’t feel legitimate and I couldn’t suspend my belief at all. I didn’t believe that parallel universes were plausible at all, despite the fact that McNeil kept throwing terminology and explanations at the reader.
Despite the plausibility of 3:59, it was an interesting read and I really liked the main character, Josie. Josie just wants to escape her life and she wants to live in a fantasy world of her own; I’ve felt that feeling way too many times and I loved seeing how McNeil broached this subject. I loved how Josie wasn’t afraid to be nerdy and to unleash her inner science aficionado when trying to decipher the link between the universes. I truly wished the Nox and the parallel universes would’ve been explained in a clearer fashion because the plot really hinges on these two devices and the lack of clarification led the plot to collapse in on itself.
I’m still a bit hazy on what went down in this book and as a result, I can’t recommend it to readers. Some readers will love this one and yet another faction of readers will be bewildered by all of the science mumbo jumbo. I fell somewhere in the middle and my lack of comprehension only partially clouded my enjoyment of this book. I will be reading more of McNeil’s novels, but I still can’t help but think that maybe I wouldn’t enjoy TEN if I would reread it.