Thursday, April 27

Fierce Female Friendship and Lovely Romance in 180 Seconds by Jessica Park

“I love you, Allison. It happened when I wasn’t looking for it, when I didn’t know I needed it. But I fell in love with you so quickly and so smoothly. So without question.” 

Some people live their entire lives without changing their perspective. For Allison Dennis, all it takes is 180 seconds…

After a life spent bouncing from one foster home to the next, Allison is determined to keep others at arm’s length. Adopted at sixteen, she knows better than to believe in the permanence of anything. But as she begins her third year in college, she finds it increasingly difficult to disappear into the white noise pouring from her earbuds.

One unsuspecting afternoon, Allison is roped into a social experiment just off campus. Suddenly, she finds herself in front of a crowd, forced to interact with a complete stranger for 180 seconds. Neither she, nor Esben Baylor, the dreamy social media star seated opposite her, is prepared for the outcome.

When time is called, the intensity of the experience overwhelms Allison and Esben in a way that unnerves and electrifies them both. With a push from her oldest friend, Allison embarks on a journey to find out if what she and Esben shared is the real thing—and if she can finally trust in herself, in others, and in love.



TRIGGER WARNINGS:
rape and terminal cancer

WHAT I LIKED:

  • All the characters were truly well-crafted, including the supporting cast, or even those who appeared just for a few pages. Jessica Park seems to have a talent for creating vivid characters that, basically, climb out of the pages. I'll definitely make sure to give a chance to her other novels in the future, because she's truly a magnificent author.
  • After the previous point I guess it's no surprise that I loved the main characters to bits, and wanted to squishy hug them ALL THE TIME. Both Allison and Esben had so many layers and were so complex that I was in awe of their awesomeness all through the book - I seriously kept finding out more about them in each chapter. Moreover, I just adored the character development they went through - they questioned things, went through hard times, learned about each other and then changed tons by the end. LOVED IT.
  • The romance was another fantastic part of the novel. Allison and Esben were absolutely adorable together, and their differences didn't make them less "compatible" to be together, rather the opposite, because they totally complemented each other.
  • What Esben was doing on social media was incredibly cool! He was showing the world that there are many-many good people out there, and that is just a wonderful thing, because everyone needs a pick-me-up once in awhile. I especially liked his social experiments - the one where he met with Allison was superb. ALSO, when they made a little girl's day by organizing her a birthday party? *beams* 
  • I loved the sex positivity! Both main characters were virgins - which was refreshing in itself, because {in NA novels} it's never guys who want to wait - but what I truly loved was how they legit sat down and had a talk about how far they wanted to go. IT WAS AMAZING. There's this stigma that you shouldn't discuss what you want sexually with your partner, and I was SO HAPPY these two were comfortable with talking about what they were/weren't ready for.
  • I was living for the strong sister-like relationship Steffi and Allison had. It was so incredibly powerful and the way they were ready to do ANYTHING for each other was BEAUTIFUL, I tell you. Seriously, if for nothing else, pick up 180 Seconds for this.  
  • No slut-shaming! Steffi sleeps around, Allison does not, and they have all the respect for each other, and support each other's decisions, as long as the other is happy. I just loved this, because, ya know, this is way more realistic than friends tearing each other down.
  • When I realized this was a New Adult novel with parents in the picture I wanted to scream from happiness, because that is so damn rare. Allison's adoptive father, Simon, was THE COOLEST PERSON EVER. Super-understanding of Allison's anxiety and trust-issues, and just an incredibly supportive and powerful parental figure. Guys, he sent care-packages to Allison that had the quirkiest stuff in them - like in inflatable unicorn. AN.INFLATABLE.UNICORN. I'm just... *flails* While we didn't meet Esben's parents, they were mentioned and I just LOVED what I learnt about them, also, there was something there with Steffi and a couple she stayed with for a while, and THAT nearly made me cry. FYI, I also never cry on books, because, apparently, I'm heartless and soulless my parents just forgot to tell this to me.
On Christmas morning, Simon spoils me with presents, but the last one I open quickly becomes my favorite. The gift bad is stuffed with blue tissue paper covered in white stars, and I start smiling as soon as I lift out the gold Wonder Woman tiara. "Oh my God, Simon! It matches my cuff bracelets! I love this!"
"Do you? Really?"
I nod sincerely and put on the tiara.
"Good," he says happily, "because... hold on..." He rummages behind him and gets another bag from behind the tree. "I got one for myself, too!"

WHAT I DISLIKED:
  • I definitely thought Allison's anxiety was well-portrayed, and, upon doing a little bit of research, I found some reviewers with anxiety who confirmed this. What I wished, though, was for Allison to ask for a therapist's help, because god knows we need therapy positivity in fiction, and, especially after her relapse, it seemed like she needed professional help.
  • The supporting characters' problems and tragedies were used to give depth to the main characters. I don't want to elaborate on this, because it can be considered a spoiler, but both these have to do with the trigger warnings above.
  • It annoyed me how it was implied that Allison had to do certain things to be considered a normal 20-something. For example, she quickly joined social media and attended parties, even though neither interested her before. I mean, no one actually told her that she had to do these things, but it was certainly made to look like they were essential for new adults. How about no?

Overall, 180 Seconds was a wonderful book, it made me beam from ear to ear, but also broke my heart into a thousand pieces MANY times. Jessica Park really knows how to write, and I can't wait to go ahead and dive into Flat Out Love, as well as her other novels.

*Huge thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for providing me with a free, digital ARC.*

The story idea: 4/5
The realization of the story: 4/5
The characters: 5/5
The cover: 4/5
Enjoy factor: 5/5

FINAL RATING:
   

QUESTION TIME:

Have you read anything by Jessica Park before? What is your favorite New Adult novel?

6 comments:

  1. The cover of this is really beautiful! I'm happy you liked this, I don't read much new adult so I'm always looking for rec's! And I'm so happy this was sex positive because I feel like we need more of that in books!

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    1. I know! The colors mash together perfectly. *heart eyes* This book was fantastic, so if you read one NA novel this year, make it this one. :D

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  2. Nice review :) by the way, it's not really true that "guys don't ever want to wait". It's rather that they're quite pressured and won't admit to the fact that they'd also like to wait, at least some of them. I have met a lot of guys who were virgins at 20 :) other than that, a lot just wouldn't admit even if they are. So don't buy into this :D

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    1. Thanks! Oh god, I really didn't specify it there, but I didn't mean real life, but books, esp. NA. It's nearly always the 'experienced guy' and 'the virgin girl' and that pisses me off, cuz like you said, not realistic. And that kind of portrayal just adds to the pressure that guys are feelings in real life & the expectations girls have.

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  3. Yes, yes, and more yes to everything you liked. I felt so good reading this book. There were so many positive things, which outweighed the 20-30% I spent crying. This is a fabulous review!
    Sam @ WLABB

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    1. It was so cute and lovely and made me SO HAPPY, it also broke my heart, but that was so worth it for the beam-worthy moments. :D Thank you! :)

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