Review: 180 Seconds by Jessica Park

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Published: 25 April 2017

Publisher: Skyscape

Category: New Adult/Romance/Contemporary

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.

Rating: 2 Stars

The summary for this book had me thinking that this would be about someone who’d slowly, reasonably, learn to trust again. Having been in the foster care system since being abandoned at a safe haven as an infant, Allison’s trust issues were to be expected and I was curious about that, enough to request the book.

The first, say, quarter of the book wasn’t bad. Allison getting settled into her third year of college, the reader being introduced to the one person she does constantly open up to and trust, a former foster care housemate named Steffi, and her idiosyncrasies with regards to navigating life with as little interaction as possible.

Once Allison gets roped into the 180 Seconds social experiment, however, things started going downhill. That whole part of the story, staring into a stranger’s eyes and then having a passionate kiss/embrace made me really uncomfortable. I don’t know much about experiments like this, but it felt weird.

After Allison is properly introduced to Esben, the stranger she stared at for 180 seconds, she seemed to change almost too quickly for words. It felt like she trusted him far too quickly given her history and that part of her story became almost unimportant to the rest of it. Considering it was a core tenent of her being, I didn’t like how her and Esben’s relationship progressed.

Esben was an alright person, but for a social media star he seemed really naive about how people behave on the Internet. His sister and partner in crime, Kerry, usually deletes nasty comments from Esben’s videos and posts, but when she stops due to a relationship, he gets his first taste of the reality of Internet trolls. That didn’t ring true of someone in the 21st century who is, as described in the summary, a social media star. Even if he never saw the comment section of his own videos, he never came across any on other videos or Facebook posts or even Twitter messages? I couldn’t believe that.

Steffi was my favorite character for most of the book. She was Allison’s best friend ever since they met at a mutual foster care home and remained so, even after they were separated and moved, not only to different homes but different coasts for college.

I got frustrated when the book went from, what I gathered by reading the summary, a fairly light-hearted contemporary novel to a heartbreaking story of loss when it’s revealed that Steffi had cancer as a child, it’s returned, and now it’s terminal. Her reaction to the situation felt out of character (pushing Allison away), then once she’s changed her mind the sheer amount of luck involved in getting Allison and Esben to L.A. during an airline strike and Spring Break was unbelievable. Plus, the foster parents that supposedly said their time as foster parents was over when Steffi turned eighteen are suddenly golden because of a misunderstanding. Everything got wrecked and then tied up in a neat, if depressing, bow.

There didn’t feel like any tension or action between Allison and Esben getting together early on in the book and Steffi’s health crisis, which was an enormous chunk of the book. This made for a very dull read that I wasn’t enjoying. The first few chapters were good, which is why this isn’t rated one star, but it was close.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.




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One thought on “Review: 180 Seconds by Jessica Park

  1. I agree with the things you said! I really enjoyed the first third or half of the book but the ending got a little too dramatic for me! I think I gave it 4 stars but after reading your review I’ve realised some things I didn’t before and I might have to take down a star! Great review 🙂

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