Review: 3:59, by Gretchen McNeil
The beginning to 3:59 was a hot mess. It's understandable for a high school student going through estrangement with her family, in addition to losing her job, and her boyfriend fiasco. But once I waded through the icky, mopey mess that was Josie's thoughts and proceeded to science-y parallel universe content, it got way more interesting!
The way McNeil uses physics to anchor the concept of parallel universes to reality is excellent, making 3:59 quite a believable story. (At least for me, as I like thinking about parallel universes too!) The introduction of a horror created from the portals between universes is also a good problem for the story. It does bring to light the idea that there will always be undiscovered creatures waiting to be found in our universe, let alone other universes!
The ending is bittersweet. I liked the rapport between Other Nick and Josie, but what I enjoyed even more is that McNeil chose to return characters to their proper worlds, instead of interchanging them. That, for me, makes this story a better one.
I would have liked more involvement from Other Jo. Though the appearance of Tony surprised me, in a pleasant way, I like him more than I thought I would, for a shadowy of a character (quite literally).
3:59 is a book I would recommend to the casual sci-fi reader. But if you're looking for creepy thrills, this is not it.