Friday, 6 February 2015

Parallel by Lauren Miller

Two worlds. Two separate identities. Two guys. 

A collision of parallel universes leaves 18-year-old Abby Barnes living a new reality - every time her parallel makes a new decision. Never-without-a-plan Abby is forced to cope with the consequences of waking up in a life she has no memory of creating. 

With chapters that alternate between our world (Here) and the parallel one (There), Abby's Here comes complete with a Yale address, a new roomie, and birthday blind date with a super-hot lacrosse player. In the parallel world, Abby's still navigating senior year class schedules, college applications, and her relationship with Astronomy Boy at her high school.

This was a really interesting, if mind-bending, concept for a story; it explores theoretical physics with the possibility of parallel universes occupying the same space, with Abby at the centre. Miller explores the notion that every decision affects our future, even seemingly insignificant ones, which we see as one Abby goes one way and one Abby goes the other. Just by taking one different class, Abby changes the way she see's the world, meets a guy, stays in school rather than jetting off to film a movie and ends up at Yale.

I really liked Abby, although it did take me until half way through to really see the difference between Here and There Abby. Obviously she struggled to make sense of the differing memories and universal paths, if you like, but with the help of her amazing friend Caitlin, she bridges the gap between her original memories and her other half's actions.

It appears that free will seems to have little effect on the grand scheme of things; even on the alternate path, Abby still tries out for a part in the play that got her noticed by big-time director. This plot line was circular and even though it removed the illusion of free will, it was strangely comforting to find that Abby was on a set path and that some things just have to happen. 

However, the whole effect of the book was ruined for me on the very last page, when the world spun back to "normal" and the last few months was a complete waste of thought! I could have done with it ending just two pages before, when Abby realises what was meant to happen and everything seems right with the world because she's found her path. 

Published 6th June 2013 by Scholastic. 

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