by Lauren Miller
To be published by Harper Teen
on May 14, 2013
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Summary (adapted from Goodreads:)Abby Barnes had a Plan. She'd go to Northwestern, major in journalism, and land a job at a national newspaper. 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. 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.
My take: I don't claim to be any kind of expert on physics or the multiverse. In fact, the whole thing kind of freaks me out. But the idea is everywhere on TV these days -- shows like Sliders, Fringe, even Family Guy. I mean, I have enough trouble managing this universe. On the Big Bang Theory, I'd be Penny -- mentally, at least.
Still, I loved Parallel, which takes an intellectual concept and makes it fun. Yes, fun is the word I'd use to describe Parallel. Fun, engaging and romantic.
Abby is a type-A, control-freak kind of girl who -- to her astonishment and through a series of chance events -- ends up acting in a Hollywood movie instead of going to journalism school. Then there's some sort of cosmic fender-bender that entangles Abby's consciousness with that of another Abby who is living the year before her in a parallel universe.
Cool, right? Well … not really. The decisions that Parallel Abby makes are changing the reality that Abby experiences, resulting in the fact that Abby wakes up every morning not sure what the heck is going on with her life. Which is causing her a lot of stress. So -- and yes, there's an element of convenience here -- she turns to her best friend Caitlin, a girl who just happens to be nearby and also happens to combine the looks of a Penny with the brains of a Sheldon. Not only does Caitlin believe Abby's crazier-than-crazy story, she tries to help her fix everything.
I think one of the things I loved most about Parallel was that it wasn't all about science. There are a bunch of other themes here: art, friendship, free will, and trust. Abby wants to control everything, but what her experience teaches her is that life is a combination of careful planning and complete serendipity and that it's easier to be happy if you can embrace them both. Did I say embrace? I can't leave out the romantic aspects of this story. Abby has one guy in each universe, each one cuter and more athletic than the other. That would be my one complaint - that with all the universe switching, the two of them blurred in my mind at times. One was a lacrosse player, one was a rower. Couldn't one be in a garage band or write poetry? But then …. holy cosmic collision, Batman! There was a unexpected plot twist -- a romantic complication that was completely unexpected and very nicely resolved :)
I really enjoyed Parallel. Ingeniously plotted, funny, and romantic, it was just a whole lot of fun to read. I highly recommend it to adult fans of old school YA like Freaky Friday, to readers who can't get enough of those multiverse plots, and also to those readers who'd just like to gaze up at the stars without thinking about stuff like hydrogen and helium and nuclear fusion.
Check back later today for my stop on the Signed Books Giveaway Hop!