Parallel by Lauren Miller

ParallelParallel by Lauren Miller
Published by: HarperTeen on May 14, 2013
Genre: Paranormal, Science Fiction
Pages: 432
Source: Edelweiss
Buy on AmazonGoodreads
Rating: ★★★★★

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 paralsplel 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.

Let me paint a picture for you. You’re crying yourself to sleep at night because you just finished reading Pivot Point and you’re afraid that nothing will ever live up to the awesomeness that is that book. Well, allow me to introduce PARALLEL! This book is the perfect follow-up to Pivot Point; they’re very similar in nature, but also vastly different. This is one of the best debuts books I have ever read! And I promise you that Parallel will rock your universe (the parallel ones too!).

Parallel is so much more rooted in science than I ever imagined. I have no idea how much the science aspects of Parallel are actually connected to real scientific theories/speculation, but I don’t care, because Lauren Miller makes it sound 100% believable. This book isn’t just about the fantastical idea of parallel universes. Lauren Miller creates an entire scientific reason behind them. You won’t sit there thinking, “Oh, what a cool fantasy idea!” Instead, you will imagine this actually happening happening in the world! It’s both fascinating and terrifying at the same time.

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.

At first, Parallel might be a bit of a mindfuck. I had to re-read the parallel world explanation like 3 times before I finally got it. Basically, there are two parallel worlds, but they’re not running at the same time. One (the ‘main’ one) takes place in 2009, and the other one takes place exactly a year earlier in 2008. When the Abby in the earlier parallel world makes course-altering decisions, they affect the other Abby a year later. So you can see how teeny tiny decisions, choices, lies, exaggerations of the truth, and mistakes affect Abby’s path and course of life an entire year later. It’s absolutely insane to see how such tiny things can have such huge impacts in the long run!

Parallel by Lauren Miller - Your path will change.  Your destiny doesn't.

Abby basically has no control over her life because the decisions that her parallel makes ultimately affect where she ends up. For example, maybe in the ‘normal’ world, Abby is currently in university. In the ‘earlier’ parallel world, Abby is still in high school. But maybe, today, the earlier Abby drops out of high school for whatever reason. Then, when the ‘normal’ Abby wakes up tomorrow, she will no longer be at university because the decisions the ‘earlier’ Abby made suddenly set the ‘normal’ Abby on a different path. I know, it’s a little confusing at first, but when it makes sense (which it will as you read the book, I promise!) it becomes this huge fantastical scientifical web of awesomeness.

Who knew fate was so fragile?

Parallel deals with a lot of ideas like fate and destiny. Because of the nature of the book, the ‘normal’ Abby feels powerless. It’s as if the ‘earlier’ parallel Abby is controlling everything, and the ‘normal’ Abby has no say! This raises a lot of questions like: can we control our destiny? Are our lives predetermined? These questions are addressed by an awesome scientist character, Dr. Mann. He’s a really interesting character, because he’s a scientist who has written theories about parallel worlds and how they might collide.

The characters in Parallel are just as awesome as the plot! You will love every single one of them for different reasons. Abby is a perfect main character. She’s interesting, she’s smart, but sometimes she does make stupid decisions, and you can see how those decisions affect her long-term. And I LOVE her best friend Caitlin! Caitlin is a total science nerd, but she’s also awesome, gorgeous, and an amazing best friend! I love her relationship with Abby and it completely broke my heart when they had a fight about halfway through. I don’t think I’d ever actually cried over a best friend type relationship before reading Parallel, but that moment actually got me teary-eyed!

We’re all just a decision or two away from destroying the relationships that are most important to us and to the people we love. And most of the time, we never even know it.

Even the side characters are amazing and hilarious. This one—Fiona—is only in the book for like two seconds, but I don’t care, because she’s amazing.

“Fiona!” a male voice calls. A hulk of a guy in a shirt that could double as a bedsheet is waving from across the courtyard. His forearm is the size of my thigh.
“Be right there!” Fiona sh outs. “My boyfriend,” she explains. “And yes, the size thing is an issue in bed. I once tried to straddle him and pulled my hamstring.

There is a romance in Parallel and it’s actually quite similar to Pivot Point in its approach. There are two different love interests: one for each parallel world. So yes, there is a bit of a love triangle, but it’s so interesting how it’s done! We have Josh in the ‘earlier’ parallel world, and Michael in the ‘normal’ world. At first, I actually wasn’t crazy about either of the guys. I think I felt the same way about Michael that Abby’s parents do. If you asked me to describe him, I’d use words like “Confident”. And I don’t mean that in the best way. He’s so confident that he comes off as cocky. He’s also just not my type at all. He’s a party guy, a little closed off, and I just didn’t click with him. And then there’s Josh. I thought Josh was a little too corny for me, and for the longest time I had no idea where their relationship was going, if anywhere. But by the end of the book, Josh definitely did grow on me!

“I invited Josh to go with us Ilana’s party.”
“Who’s Josh?”
“Josh Wagner. Astronomy Boy.”
“You invited Astronomy Boy to go with us to a party we’re not actually attending. Interesting strategy. Shall I bring the boyfriend I don’t actually have?”

To be honest, I’m not completely sure how I feel about the end of the book. I loved it, up until the very last second. It’s still good, but it almost had me wanting more! View Spoiler »

Ultimately, this is a fabulous book. It’s hilarious, it’s fun, and it’s so freaking interesting. The ideas in this book and the way they are presented are genius! This book is so carefully crafted and I loved seeing how tiny things can have huge ripples in Abby’s life. I can’t recommend this book enough!

The Verdict

amazing

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I'm a 28 year old California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). My three great passions are: books, coding, and fitness. more »

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11 comments

  1. Parallel was such an awesome book! I’m glad you enjoy it too, Ashley 🙂 I agree with you about the romance, I wasn’t really shipping any of them ( which really sucks). Excellent review!

    On a side note, you have somehow persuaded me to move to WordPress officially and get that book Blogger Plugin of yours… I should be starting in 2 months time! Eek >.<

    Melanie recently posted: Midnight Madness Newsletter (8)
  2. I LOVED this book! I really want to give it 5 stars, but there was just a little thing that bugged me that I couldn’t get over, so it ended up being 4.5. Still a REALLY great book! I loved the love triangle in this book, and I don’t think that’s a sentence I’ve ever said before. I think I liked it because it really highlighted the difference between Abby and her Parallel and just exaggerated(in a good way) the outcome of all her choices. It made it the concepts easier to grasp. I was never too much of a fan of Michael, though.

    I loved how you mention the friendship in this book too– that was so well done! Probably my favorite part.

  3. YES YES YES. EVERYTHING in this review mirrors my experience and feelings about Parallel. I cried! I really did and that’s how I knew this one was really special. It is the PERFECT follow up/similar read to Pivot Point. I loved all the science-y stuff but the friendships and the romance. I was totally Josh/Abby from the start, and I just loved them SO much.

    Totally agreed on the ending though. Damn, that hit me in the feels HARD!

    Molli recently posted: Stacking the Shelves – #28
  4. That GOOD! I was planning on reading Pivot Point this month, but now I really want to skip that one and start with Parallel. Fabulous review, Ashley! And I tried really hard not to look at the spoiler 🙂

    Aman recently posted: Review: Prodigy by Marie Lu
  5. Hmm. This book sounds like it might be a little confusing, lol. But I won’t let that scare me away! I’ve read Pivot Point and really enjoyed it, so I wouldn’t object to a similar story! Nice review. 🙂

    Rebecca recently posted: Bookish Facts About Me
  6. Just reading the synopsis was a bit of a mindfuck, reading books that show how every decision you make can alter your life drastically honestly terrifies me. I like that the sci-fi aspect seems to be layered and well explained in this book and best friend relationships win my heart every time. I didn’t even take much notice of this book before your review but it sounds interesting and amazing though your description of the romance has a me a bit worried.

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