Published: April 25th, 2017
Synopsis: 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.
Diversity: none that was obviously stated
Warnings: mentions of rape and sexual assault, terminal illness plays a part in the story.
I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
180 Seconds is a sweet, romantic and heart-wrenching story about university life and being able to move on from your past, however bad it might have been.
I found this book really entertaining. Jessica Park’s writing is easy and simple to read, meaning it feels as if you’re flying through chapters – even the emotionally weighty ones.
Allison was a protagonist that I found easily relatable. She had her flaws and her dark past that had informed her life and while her specific dealings in the foster care system wasn’t something I would directly relate to, her mental health due to it was. Park spent great care to focus on this idea of growth and overcoming your own limitations to become more. Allison is a girl who finds it difficult to trust, has to have everything in a very specific way to feel ordered, and over the course of the story, she forces herself to leave her own self-isolation and place herself in the world she has been shielding from.
And it all starts because of 180 seconds.
Esben was an interesting character. He was hard to feel any bad feelings towards – he was understanding and careful and genuine and a truly good person. In parts, he feels almost too perfect. Park’s doesn’t allow for a lot of time to be focused on Esben’s shortcomings – although they are very clearly depicted – and with his social media experiments and his need to do so much good in the world, he can seem almost too perfect. But those true moments of kindness he shows is really heart warming. Park’s used a lot of real moments of human beauty and kindness in this book, including the little girl who had no one show up to her birthday party until a post on social media had people deciding to band together and make the day as special as possible. Using these made the story more entrenched in our world as we see it –
Using these made the story more entrenched in our world as we see it – we recognise those online stories and it almost makes Esben real – and by extension Allison.
Their romance is, like I said above, sickeningly sweet in so many places. Esben is so attentive and Allison goes through so much growth because of their relationship. It’s wonderfully healthy and positive, which is how I like my relationships to be. It is the focus of the story, but it shares that along with Allison’s development as a person.
An issue, however, is possibly the suggestion that love can conquer all. Whilst not all problems are fixed, there is a notable decrease in the number of times Allison’s anxious habits are displayed over the story until, practically, they aren’t there anymore.
Parts of this book made me cry and – without spoiling the book too much – I found those moments to be written so beautifully and honestly, even with the ridiculously over-the-top but enjoyable moments that proceed it. There were three or four chapters of welling up before the actual tears came.
180 Seconds is an adorable contemporary read with a genuinely healthy romance and a brilliant message about not letting your past define you and being able to overcome the boundaries of anxiety.