Last week, illness I had the chance to meet the awesome author Gretchen McNeil again. I have had a chance to read her book Possess but her brand new book, 3:59, had just released. She had talked it up at the Ontario Teen Book Fest in May so I was definitely ready to dive into this novel.
The wait was worth it, and I definitely am glad that I picked up this book, and you will be too!
3:59 by Gretchen McNeil
young adult, science fiction, thriller
Part of a Series?:
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This is a new feature on the Book of the Week. As most of the reviews I do are YA, and YA is starting to break apart into YA and NA, and that sort of thing, I will be recommending an appropriate age for the books. Keep in mind this is MY personal recommendation and it varies on the maturity of the reader.
12+: Mild Violence
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.
I honestly just wish it would have gone on longer. I really wanted to get to know the characters more and really dive into the differences between Jo and Josie, and the different parents and Nick and all of that. I think that I wanted more character exploration in this book. I am so used to books that are multiple books in a series that I was surprised to have a story wrapped up in one book and I had to tweet Gretchen to make sure that this was just one book. So I think maybe if I go back another time around, I may find more to the character development than I saw the first time around because I was prepared for it to happen so fast.
Okay, first off, I have to really give Gretchen a round of applause for pulling this off. Currently I’m writing a novel where I bounce back and forth between the past and the present, with the same group of characters, and its been really tough for me. But I can’t imagine having to write two parallel universes with characters that have to be the same, except with small differences. That sounds like a headache to me, and I know that it can’t have been easy to write and I seriously applaud her for that.
And I think that’s what really makes this book so intriguing and addicting at first, because you’re so curious at the small details and at the mystery that it builds. You know that each side is different but its interesting to find out exactly how each one is different. I think that Gretchen really is so subtle with creating each side, that you are caught right off the bat, because you’re just dying to know what is going on. We figure out that there are two different worlds, with these two girls that look exactly alike, and yet we don’t know anything else. I don’t know how many other people were so apprehension and a little scared when Jo and Josie decide to switch so easily. They don’t know anything about each other’s worlds and they jump so easily to switch places. That is insane! But I think that’s what’s great. We aren’t told everything so we’re clutching the pages in excitement as these girls take on the unknown.
I also love how intelligent Gretchen made these characters, especially Josie and her friend Penelope. I think it took a lot of research and some brain power for Gretchen to have this wrapped up in so much physics. My head was reeling at all of the physics talk but she both made it incredibly confusing and mind boggling but made it so it was totally believable that this sort of thing could exist. I really think its great that Gretchen made her characters so intelligent and capable of understanding these kind of phenomenons. A few days ago, it was discussed at a book event that, in YA literature mostly, strength in a female character is literal physical strength and the capabilities of being physically strong. I think that there is something to say when a character is incredibly smart and is able to save the day with the intelligence she wields.
Oh, and I am just going to say this: Gretchen’s ability to create two parallel Nicks, one who is sleazy and awful and you want to punch in the face, and the other who you won’t to throw against the wall and make out with, is awesome. That’s the magic of this book, that she is able to create all these doppelgängers and you are able to feel so differently to each one because of those subtle differences.
Lastly, I really enjoyed the story, especially since it wasn’t at all what I expected. I knew that it was science fiction, but I thought it was mostly going to focus on the idea of those two worlds existing, but what really comes forward from that is so surprising and super fun. Its all thrilling and scary, and I literally was breathing heavily because I didn’t know what was going to happen next. I was terrified. If a movie was made of this book, I would probably hide under the covers, and watch it with it was in the middle of the day, and the sun was shining. The story is exciting, unexpected and addicting. One minute you’re in a romance, the next in a drama and then its action packed. It has everything that a YA sci-fi novel needs, with that little added twist of thrill and it was fun to read.
4.5 out of 5 Stars
Recommended or Not?:
Definitely. Gretchen is fun to read, and it was worth the time, even just for the unexpected twists and turns that kept happening in the book. Every time I felt like I had figured it out, I was totally wrong, and the book went veering in another direction. Definitely pick up this book, and head out to meet Gretchen, who is doing a TON of events soon!
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I hope you enjoyed this week’s edition of the Book of the Week. Stay tuned in soon for more book reviews and a special guest interview with Gretchen herself!
Happy Reading everyone!