Parallel U. – Freshman Year by Dakota Rusk
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Have you ever eaten a picnic on a beach and maybe had some food that’s gotten sand in it? The food can taste fantastic, or you might be completely famished, so you keep on eating. But every now and then you get that horrible grinding crunch in your teeth. And every time, it almost makes you want to stop eating because even though you know it’s just a bit of sand… there’s still dirt in your food.
That’s how this novel made me feel when I read it. It has finely sifted grains of liberal sand scattered all through it. I did manage to make it to the end, and I did enjoy the story… but ptoowey on some of it.
I wanted to give this book 3 stars at first, but after working on this review, I realize I can’t.
First, the book is Science Fiction, but definitely what I would call YA. That’s not a bad thing, I’ve read some decent YA books in the past. For this one though, there’s a bit too much Y and not enough A for the age group it depicts. It begins with a young woman who is about to start college… a very unique one. Parallel University is a college set up to bring students together from various parallel Earths in order to share their differences. That’s the science part. And that’s about the only ‘real’ (theoretical) science you’ll get.
From there, we dive into tropes, teen angst (female mostly), and many grains of liberal sand. The story is not bad. The writing is not bad. It had to be that way, or I would have stopped at about 10%…then 23%… the 47%. After that, I was determined to finish no matter what. I had to know how the story would end.
There are some light spoilers below, so read ahead at your own risk if you plan to check the book out.
The first grain of sand I found almost made me chip a tooth (a.k.a. book drop). It was the girl finding out that the ‘electrical field’ of her ‘body’ was shifted by the nuclear war that had occurred in her parallel Earth. This ‘field’ followed her to Parallel Prime and resulted in shorting out any electronic stuff she happened to be near. smh I really hoped this little science stinker was a quick whiff to make her not have a cell phone or something. Nope. It is a major plot point. crunch
Next we have the ‘everyone must come together to share their diversity at college’ trope crunch
After that, it was like going down a check-list of liberal thought &/or teeny-bopper dreams every other chapter.
pagan religion/witchcraft acceptance crunch
token homosexual character crunch
all the dorms are named for scientists known for liberal ideas crunch
boy crush/girl crush/triple crush triangle crunch
everyone is better than me – wait, they’re jealous of me? I guess I am special crunch
bullies are truly evil crunch
bad guys appear and tell the good guys they details of their evil plan crunch
evil corporations are the bad guys crunch
The characters seemed like they were mostly made up to showcase a particular interest the author had. They had quirks that derived from their particular parallel Earth, but the science or divergence factors used to justify them were trite at best. The antagonist falls madly in love with the vampire boy, even though they barely know or even talk to each other, and he creeps her out most of the time. omgwtfbbq It’s all a mishmash of girly dreams and luck that brings the ‘heroine’ to the climax. I persevered and finished the book, but the ending was very lack-luster and was just not believable to me.
Even a YA novel should have characters that grow up. And the Science homework was definitely not done very well. I can’t recommend this one. I give it 2 stars and call it an Immature Read.