Friday, September 13, 2013

3:59 by Gretchen McNeil

3:59 by Gretchen McNeil
Release Date - September 17, 2013
Publisher Website -  Harper
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader
Pages - 368 pages
My Rating - 3.5/5
**obtained for review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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.
The grass is always greener, or so we would like to believe. 3:59 explores the notion of lives we wished we lived, and how they aren't always what they appear to be.

Josie is your typical highschool student. Her life has hit a bit of a rough patch, and she's instantly drawn to the allure of having a 'do over'. I might of over sympathized with the situation with her boyfriend, and so she instantly appealed to me. Something about her life will strike a cord with the reader. They'll either relate directly, or it'll remind them of someone. This creates an instant bond with the character, and I felt it added to the story.

Jo on the other hand wasn't as developed as I would have liked. This is Josie's story, but Jo has a LARGE part in it, and I wanted her version. Everything we learn about Jo is from Josie and her perspective. It's tainted. As we know there are two sides to every story, and I felt that Jo had more to tell.

The science fiction aspect of the story was exactly what I hoped it would be. Gretchen provided enough details to allow the reader to follow along, and yet kept it open enough that your imagination could fill in the blanks. The descriptive nature of the portal that allows the swap to take place made imaging it all too easy. She raised the creepy factor by having the portal close rather rapidly and the descriptions of the portal's 'in between' stage was chill inducing. Comparing it to hardening concrete brings to mind horrors of being buried alive, and it was captured by Josie perfectly.

The romance is going to be hit or miss for some. I can see both sides of this. It does come across as rushed, but there are factors that would lend themselves to a quick attraction. By the end of the story I was invested in it enough to care, and that is what matters to me. I wish we had a little more to go on, because this relationship does have it's sweet (and not so sweet) moments.

The meshing of horror and science fiction is a perfect blend. Some may be surprised by the inclusion of something decidedly not science fiction based, something that is semi paranormal in nature. This inclusion felt warranted to me, and it added an element of danger to a story that needed some higher stakes.

The ending will be debated, and perhaps disliked. It's not the ending one may hope for, or like. It, for me, ends the only way this story could. The build up, and nature of the story dictated that certain events had to happen, and this is the follow through.

Gretchen once again shows she can scare and captivate. I wanted a little more from this book, but still found it's writing and presentation enjoyable. Fans of Gretchen's previous novels will want to grab this one.

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