Review: 3:59 by Gretchen McNeil

Posted by Jessi (Geo) on September 9, 2013 | 7 Comments

Review: 3:59 by Gretchen McNeil3:59 by Gretchen McNeil
Published by Balzer + Bray (9.17.2013)
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Format: ARC, 368 pages
Source: From Publisher
Buy on Amazon

2 Stars

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?

My thoughts

Big thanks to HarperTeen for providing a review copy!

I had the same problem with this one that I had with Ten: TOO MUCH DRAMA. I mean, I understand that they’re in high school, but jeez! High school is NOT like reality TV. Either that or I just had a ridiculously tame high school.

To be honest, this could have been a 4 star book for me if it hadn’t been for the characters. The originality was outstanding, and I loved the idea – anything to do with parallel universes will usually grab me. But, I couldn’t stand the main character, Josie. Quite hated her, actually. She bases her life and all of her decisions solely around a boy – Nick. If a dude is obviously not interested in you (um, helloooo, he treats you like poo and he cheated on you…with your ‘best’ friend for crying out loud), it’s time to move on! Ughhh. That always drives me bat shit crazy – maybe because I’ve always been very independent and have a ‘screw you’ mentality to people who hurt me or double cross me – but I can’t stand when females latch onto a male and make him the center of their universe. I’d better get back on track here, before I go off onto a tangent that has absolutely nothing to do with this book. *clears throat*

Back to Josie. She was a weak, spineless, sniveling coward. I can’t stand the doormat personality leads, and she was definitely one. She was meek as a mouse, and stood by and let people treat her like crap without speaking up or standing up for herself. I hate, hate when characters don’t stand up for themselves. You have a mouth, use it! She kept talking about her ‘shame’ and ’embarrassment’ to being the butt of all jokes (because the saying ‘being Byrned‘ – her last name is Byrne, how original – is like, omg, soooo horrific) and having everyone stare at her and talk about her. Like it was Josie that was in the wrong. Um, they cheated on you! Pretty sure most people would regard them with disdain and disgust. Just sayin. Yet, she ran and hid and cried like a little baby about it. Probably beating a dead horse here, but stop crying and stand up for yourself. DO something about it. Like, move on? Maybe? But nooo. She gets even worse.

Instead of being like ‘You know what, to hell with you, I’m better off without you,’ she spies on her ex boyfriend and best friend together (and of course gets caught and is so humiliated she wants to die *eye roll*), wishes desperately that she could have ‘seen it coming’ so she could have prevented it (IF HE CHEATED ON YOU, NOTHING YOU DID WOULD HAVE MATTERED BECAUSE HE’S NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU. End of story). Then, when she sees a glimpse of Jo’s world and thinks that the other version of herself is still with Nick, she willingly trades places just to have a second chance. Gag me with a spoon.

Maybe time travel was out of the realm of possibility, but now there was another Nick. A Nick who still loved her. Maybe she could still be there for him? Fix her mistakes with Nick, even if it was just for one day.

Okay, and for the mistakes part, having a brother with cancer is NOT a reason to cheat on someone. He can’t get mad at her for ‘not caring’ when she didn’t even know! He should have told her instead of letting it go until he ended up pinning the blame on her. Ridiculous. That’s his mistake, not hers. You can’t not tell someone something and then get mad because they didn’t know. What do you think she is, a mind reader? 

Oh, and did I mention she opted to walk two miles in the dark just because she didn’t want him to see her get in her car that was right there in the parking lot? How damn stupid do you have to be? She was so lame I wanted to stab myself in the leg. As if that wasn’t bad enough, then she takes a ‘short cut’ through the dark woods. Idiot. I was kind of hoping she’d die, even though I knew there’d be no story if she did. *le sigh*

Then when she gets to Jo’s world (that’s her double in the alternate universe), and Nick starts blabbing on about the Grid and Nox, she doesn’t ask what he’s talking about. You’ve never heard of this ‘Grid’ before, and you don’t wonder what it is? There was no curiosity about the terminology, not even in her thought process. It made no sense to me. 

The plot was painfully predictable. I was ten steps ahead of the characters and saw the twists coming a mile away. View Spoiler »

I felt absolutely no emotion while reading. Things that probably should have mattered to me didn’t even register. View Spoiler »

How can the other Nick be so different, if he’s basically the same person? And since he’s supposedly THAT different, we have a raging case of instalove. 

They needed each other, were desperate to be together no matter whose universe they chose. Josie’s heart ached from happiness. She’d never felt this way with her ex-boyfriend. This was something different. Something deeper. Even though they had only known each other a few days, Nick knew her better than anyone else, and loved her even more because of it.

Even though they had only known each other a few days-“…..a few days. A FEW DAYS. AND YOU LOVE EACH OTHER. Yeah, and I have the magical ability to snort water up my nose and ralph it up as wine. Would anyone like a glass?

The saving grace of this book was the originality. Obviously the alternate universe part, but also because of the Nox. It reminded me a bit of Pitch Black. And it was pretty cool, I’ll have to admit. Honestly, I was going to give this 3 stars before I started writing this review. But just talking about how much all those things annoyed me annoys me all over again, and now I’m just plain annoyed. How annoying. I didn’t realize how much it bothered me until now because I was too busy reading the book. Oh, the woes of being a reviewer. Life is so terrible. Oh gawd, Josie is rubbing off on me.

Overall Assessment

Plot: 3.5/5
Writing style: 3/5
Originality: 4.5/5
Characters: 0.5/5
World-building: 3/5
Pace: 3.5/5
Cover: 3/5
Overall rating: 2/5

Jessi (Geo)

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7 responses to “Review: 3:59 by Gretchen McNeil

  1. That sucks. I actually did kinda enjoy Ten but I understand what you mean about these kinds of books. Ha. And I hate it when characters are (to quote your luscious phrasing) “weak, spineless and sniveling”. I mean sniveling is just horrifying in and of itself! So it sucks you had to deal with that. Sounds like the idea was good though so kudos to that! I might keep this in mind for later but I think I’ll pass now.

    Great review nator twin!

  2. Aw man that sucks! :( I actually quite liked Ten, but you mentioned a lot of things in your review that I think would bug me. Like, I also hate it when characters don’t stand up for themselves. :( Do not like!! I end up mentally screaming at them for the entire book.

    What a bummer! D:

  3. Ahh no I’m so sorry you didn’t like this one. I can definitely see where you’re coming from, Josie could be really annoying at times and she didn’t always think before just charging right into whatever was going on at the moment. Also, the plot was definitely really predictable. I saw that plot twist coming too. Sigh, and since Josie and the Nick who cheated already had a history, it was like assumed that most of the attraction would still be there, even though it obviously wasn’t made clear.

    Fantastic review, though, Jessi! <33

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