Review: Parallel by Lauren Miller

Parallel - Lauren Miller

I flew from Glasgow to Toronto four weeks ago. I'm very poor so didn't spend the extra $15 to prebook a seat. No, I spent that money on books instead. So the upshot of it all was I was seated next to a mother and her 7 month old baby. I am allergic to children. I don't even tolerate my partners 8 year old son very well, so you can picture the horror spreading rapidly through my body to my very soul as I realised I had 7 hours of screaming and crying to look forward to (and I guessed the baby would be unwilling to sit quietly too ...). However, the flight attendant, possibly on noting the throbbing vein emerging on my forehead, swooping in to rescue me, moving me to a free (quiet) seat at the back of the plane.


At first immense relief washed over me, and then I started thinking. What if fate intended me to sit next to that baby? What if, by accepting the flight attendant's offer to move me I had interrupted fate, a la Final Destination? What if we were now doomed to all crash and burn (you're possibly realising now that I'm not a very confident flyer ....)?


Thankfully this was not the case. The worst that happened was they couldn't find me to deliver my vegetarian meal, but it did make me consider fate and the impact of every seemingly small decision we make.


And so it goes in Parallel. Abbie's life becomes entangled with that of another Abbie in a parallel world, every choice her parallel makes, however apparently insignificant has an effect on Abbie's life all without her control. She just has to roll with it and do her best to straighten out the mess along the way.

The idea of a multiverse, choice versus fate, cause and effect - love it! I'm a closet geek and I adore the fascinating science behind the multiverse theory. Lauren Miller obviously researched the science behind her idea very thoroughly and Dr Mann, Abbie's astrology teacher makes a fantastic explanation of what it's all about. Even the most far-out fantasy or sci-fi has to be built on logic, supported with realistic, believable facts or it simply becomes laughable. So this aspect of Parallel I enjoyed very much.


However, unlike my flight, it didn't take the thing long to crash and burn.


After the first entertainingly confusing, interesting and absorbingly lively 50 pages or so, it all descended rather rapidly into a giant high school/college drama bitch-fest. Abbie is so unlikeable. She's mean spirited, sour, violently boring and horrifically self-absorbed all of which is most unbecoming.


It's so disappointing that a great idea is ruined by this pain in the ass protagonist. It could have been epic, but instead it was the tale of yet another tedious love triangle, Abbie's big fat non-problems and a whole bunch of high school crap that I haven't given a shit about in years. No-one has enemies in high school, not real enemies. There's not enough history, depth of emotion or actual real life pain and hurt to warrant hating anyone in high school. Hate is a very strong feeling. And yet Abbie is fixated on her hatred for Ilana who has done nothing worse than be keen to pursue an acting career, like an available and good looking boy, and bleach her hair.


Maybe it's just me, but these "crimes" don't seem to warrant the position of nemesis in Abbie's life.


The same goes for Abbie's love life. She's going out with those boys for about 5 seconds and labels it as "love" and soul-mates. It's sort of pathetic. I've made my opinion of insta-love very clear in the past. It's highly unrealistic, absurd and more often than not, frankly barf inducing.


At first I could admire Abbie's drive and hunger to succeed, both academically and athletically. She was determined that she was going to be a journalist. She had ambition and passion and conviction. But all this flew out the window the minute a cute guy came on the scene. Hey, listen up ladies - there's more to life than boys! Abbie spiralled down, to the black hole of stereotypes - so infuriating. Not every girl is obsessed with guys, it's okay to be career oriented and to have greater ambition than to hook up (which is exactly what Abbie was getting all up on her high horse about her worst enemy, Ilana doing. Hypocritical much?!)


The worst of it was, in amongst all these sad little pathetic shenanigans the science seemed to be almost completely swept aside, left to stew in the corner, forgotten about, gathering dust. This unfortunately was the only part I actually gave a crap about. It seemed to be building up to Dr Mann making some incredible discovery but strangely, next to the tangled web of a love life Abbie was busy weaving, this came to nothing. Logic? Where did you go? Come back before I drown in all the paper thin lurve, whining and angsting flying around all over the place!


It's a shame the content sucked because the writing style was decent enough. The dialog was actually mostly somewhat amusing. Lauren Miller has a pretty good turn of phrase and some of the description was great.


The same cannot be said for the ending. Aargh! Worst. Ending. Ever! I won't spoil it, but my god it was frustrating.


Yeah, this was pretty much wholly disappointing. I was so looking forward to it too - yet another case of great idea, poor execution. Never mind, the sun is shining in a big way here, unlike the UK where our 6 months of cloud, drizzle and wind has begun enthusiastically already. I'm horribly sun burned but I don't care - I heart sunshine! I'm so jealous of my parallel self, who surely has been more sensible than me and moved here when she had the chance.