Our Sci-Fi Saturday review for today is Lauren Miller's Parallel. It's a intriguing sci-fi take on the concept of parallel universes, and is scheduled to be published on May 14th by Harper Teen.
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Hardcover, 432 pages
Expected publication: May 14th 2013 by HarperTeen
Format reviewed: E-ARC via Edelweiss
In Parallel, Lauren Miller takes the question of the what-if, and brings it one step further. What if, instead of a simply having a protagonist jump between two universes (e.g. Me Vs. Me because of magic/wishing/pure chance/the unexplained, the protagonist's parallel-existence is the result of something scientific?
What if it's the result of a cosmic entanglement? And what if, instead of set parallel universes, one universe is constantly impacting the other one?
That's the fascinating idea explored in her debut novel Parallel, and it's something you're not going to want to miss.
After a series of serendipitous accidents involving high school play, Abby is now working on a major Hollywood film. She should enjoy it - she's being pursued by the hottest guy in Hollywood, and is a budding starlet.
However, all Abby can think about is how she would much rather be at Northwestern getting ready to study journalism, like she always planned.
But after a night out with her group of Hollywood acting friends, Abby goes home, expecting to wake up to more of the same in the morning. Instead, a collision of parallel worlds, ends up with her waking up at Yale, with no memory of how she got there.
Now, with her younger, parallel self constantly making decisions that may impact her present, Abby's left to figure out this new-found future, and what part she wants in it.
Things that worked:
All of Miller's characters are wonderfully written, and delightful to read.
From the very first page, we understand the range of Abby's talents and thoughts. She's smart, clever and funny. She's prone to doing stupid things - I winced at a certain scene involving nails - but she's also not afraid to pick herself up, after making those mistakes. She's willing to try new things, conquer old fears, and also admit when she's wrong.
Caitlin is the type of best friend that any girl would be lucky to have. She's loyal, willing to have Abby's back no matter what, and she's gorgeous and loves science.
Even all of the secondary characters are wonderful. Miller just has a gift for fleshing people out, in as little as one sentence.
* The plotting/pacing.
Miller's decision to turn the concept of string theory and cosmic entanglement into fiction, is an incredibly unique one. I've read several parallel universe novels, and most of them generally focused on the idea of a protagonist existing in two separate universes.
The fact that she has one version of the protagonist constantly influencing the other version, keeps the reader guessing, and keeps the stakes growing higher and higher.
* World-building/the details.
Miller is excellent at incorporating the small, minute details into her text. The details may seem inconsequential at first - e.g. the fact that the parallel version of Abby only likes Gap clothing, but does a lot in building the parallel worlds/the two versions of Abby.
* The science.
It's not that often that you have a YA book which unabashedly discusses complex scientific theories which would confuse your average person. Miller writes and explains these theories like a pro, and also makes them incredibly entertaining and fascinating.
* The writing.
Miller writes in an incredibly engaging way, and has a distinct voice and clear understanding of both the high school and the college experience.
Things that didn't work/Things to consider:
Some readers *may* be initially confused by the science that's discussed in this book. However, I think that the YA-reading crowd is a smart one, and they'll just be more motivated to look up the terms discussed.
(And hey, hopefully they'll become more interested in science as a result, like Caitlin!)
I absolutely loved this book, and only wish that it was longer. However, I'm definitely looking forward to anything Lauren Miller may write in the future.
Recommended for fans of Emily Hainsworth, Tiffany Schmidt, Erin Bowman and Kasie West.