Author: Lauren Miller
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: May 14, 2013
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 didn’t really like Parallel. It kind of reminded me of Kasie West’s Pivot Point, but a less-good, lackluster version of it.
The main problem with this book for me was that I didn’t find it compelling. To start with, I didn’t even like Abby, the protagonist, all that much. I just found her hard to connect with and thought she was actually pretty boring. I didn’t like that she was doing acting because it was easy and taking the opportunity away from someone who actually wanted it, and in the parallel world it still seemed like she would do things just to get into college, not because she was actually passionate about them, so I felt I never got to know what she really wanted (other than Josh, and I’m sorry, but a boy can’t be the only thing a person is passionate about). I realize that a lot of high school kids nowadays do think you have to do certain things to be considered well-rounded for particular schools, but it seemed like Abby didn’t even enjoy most of the things she did.
I also wasn’t so into the whole love triangle thing. I didn’t feel anything much about Josh or Michael (although I did like Michael a little better. At least he was angry and interesting), so that held no tension for me. I get that finding her soul mate was supposed to put her back into her real reality or whatever, but the romance didn’t seem genuine to me and I wasn’t emotionally invested in it at all.
In addition, I found it hard to believe that Caitlin would so readily believe Abby’s story about being in another universe. I guess that made the story get going more quickly, but I wasn’t convinced.
I also wasn’t convinced about the ending, because it didn’t feel to me like Abby had really learned anything profound enough to jolt her back into the real world. I suppose she kind of realized that coxswain-ing wasn’t her thing and hopefully she’ll stop doing things just because they’re handed to her, and she realized she’s in love with Josh, but it didn’t feel like enough to me. It was just a little to perfect matchy-matchy for my taste.
All in all, I found Parallel a bit dull. I wasn’t invested with any of the characters, wasn’t convinced by the plot, and didn’t find Lauren Miller’s writing style all that intriguing. Sadly, I think Parallel will be a book I forget in a hurry, and feel there are plenty of other books about parallel universes I would recommend over this one.