Monday, July 14, 2014

Books on Trial: 3:59 by Gretchen McNeil

Books on Trial is a method of reviewing where I decide if books I've read recently are guilty or innocent of the "charges" laid against them by other reviewers, aka the "witnesses". This week's case is for...

 Hardcover, 368 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Toronto Public Library


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?

Witnesses:
The "witness testimonies" are from the top three opinions on Goodreads as of the posting date. The reviews have earned their position based on number of likes. The "testimonies" are:

In the end, 3:59 didn't live up to my expectations. Had the plot and mystery been tighter, the characters better developed and the romance cleaned up, I would have probably really loved this one. Would I recommend this? My first reaction is, "Eh, no." But I do think if the above doesn't bother you much in novels, you may enjoy this one. I would, instead, strongly recommend checking out a sample to see if the writing style works for you and then abandoning all sense of logic at page one.

-Steph Sinclair

For an entertaining thriller, 3:59 does a good job. Some of it is overwhelming or far fetched, and specific parts made me cringe, but it's an action packed read that's great for a quick thrill. 

-Giselle

A promising book, built on solid scientific theories and a well-executed premise of a parallel universe that was ultimately let down by an absurd plot and no character development.

-Khanh (Kittens, Rainbows, and Sunshine)

Ruling:
3:59 was actually pretty great. I read 80% of it in a four hour stretch!

The "testimonies" for 3:59 seem to have three issues in common: the romance, the predictably and the plot holes. To be honest, most didn't bother me until after I finished reading. I'm not a very judgmental reader. As long as I don't want to strangle the MC or jab my eyes out, I keep on reading.

The romance between Josie and Nick II (the Nick from Jo's universe) had a strange foundation. Nick I cheated on Josie, and Nick II couldn't stand the sight of Jo. I could see how Nick II could grow to love Josie. But wouldn't Josie be appalled by the sight of Nick II? I mean, he looked just the like the Nick that cheated on her. But, no, I guess not because Josie went to Jo's universe in the first place to spend a day with Nick II. C'mon, girl, he cheated on you with your best friend? Why would you want him back? In any universe? It made Josie seem needy. She could have wanted to switch universes just out of curiosity. I know I would want to.

There were times when the plot was predictable. I knew the animal attacks weren't animal attacks right away. I knew the black bird things - later revealed to be the Nox - were responsible for the deaths. I knew Jo was lying about her world. But the secrets about both of Jo's parents caught me off guard. They were twists for the betterment of the book. I really loved how there wasn't a happy ending for Josie and Nick II, though. It made me angry. It made me feel!

The plot holes were cleverly disguised throughout the book. Only now, as I write this, do I think back to all the things that don't make sense. Here's one that's really chewing on me: why did the Nox attacked Josie's mother in Jo's universe? McNeil stated Josie's Nox "invisibility" originated from Josie being from another universe. But so was Josie's mom. The Nox liked to attack her. Why? It's a plot hole, and it bothers me.

All in all, 3:59 was entertaining! The few surprises and lack of a happy ending kept me guessing (well, I didn't guess after the ending, but you get what I mean). It's worth the read if you want a paranormal/supernatural book with a dash of mystery. But I still find it GUILTY of the claims laid against it by the "witnesses".

Would I recommend 3:59? Yes.

Would I re-read 3:59? No.

Would I read a sequel? I'd put it on my TBR list.

Next Monday... I'll be doing my first Series Binge post on Archetype and Prototype by M.D. Waters (plus an ARC giveaway of Prototype!)