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4.3 6
by Gretchen McNeil

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Josie Byrne's life is spiraling out of control. Her parents are divorcing, her boyfriend, Nick, has grown distant, and her physics teacher has it in for her. When she's betrayed by the two people she trusts most, Josie thinks things can't get worse. Until she starts having dreams about a girl named Jo. Every night at the same time—3:59


Josie Byrne's life is spiraling out of control. Her parents are divorcing, her boyfriend, Nick, has grown distant, and her physics teacher has it in for her. When she's betrayed by the two people she trusts most, Josie thinks things can't get worse. Until she starts having dreams about a girl named Jo. Every night at the same time—3:59 a.m.

Jo's life is everything Josie wants: she's popular, her parents are happily married, and Nick adores her. It all seems real, but they're just dreams, right? Josie thinks so, until she wakes one night to a shadowy image of herself in the bedroom mirror—Jo.

Josie and Jo are doppelgängers living in parallel universes that briefly overlap every twelve hours at exactly 3:59. Fascinated by Jo's fabulous life, Josie jumps at the chance to cross through the portal and switch places for a day. But Jo's world is far from perfect. Not only is Nick not Jo's boyfriend, he hates her. Jo's mom is missing, possibly insane. And at night, shadowy creatures feed on human flesh.

Josie is desperate to return to her own life. But there's a problem: Jo has sealed the portal, trapping Josie in this dangerous world. Can she figure out a way home before it's too late?

From master of suspense Gretchen McNeil comes a riveting and deliciously eerie story about the lives we wish we had—and how they just might kill you.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Julia Bowersox
Josie's life is falling apart. Her parents are in the midst of a divorce, her mother is burying herself in work and is standoffish when around, and Josie's boyfriend, Nick, cheated on her with her best friend on their anniversary. When Josie starts having visions of a perfect version of her life in her mirror, she plunges through the mirror portal and switches places with her doppelganger, Jo, from a different dimension. Josie quickly finds out this world is nightmarish with large invisible predatory birds, called lox, which lurk at dusk and hunt humans. Josie also finds her real mother is stuck in this strange world too, only her mother is treated like a prisoner in an asylum and is tortured by lox. Josie uses her smarts to befriend the doppelganger, and convince Nick and a few other schoolmates that she is not really the evil Jo they fear and dislike. Together, they continue working on a scientific solution to get rid of the lox, as well as return Josie and her mother back home to their own world. However, Josie has to be careful who she trusts in this world as it is full of character twists. This book is scientifically action-packed, complete with monsters and drama. Teens who are fans of the ever-popular Dr. Who television series will love this book. Reviewer: Julia Bowersox
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Josie Byrne, a brainy prep school junior, has been brought up to trust in science. Her AP physics project examines the Penrose Interpretation, which hypothesizes that objects can exist in more than one space at the same time. Josie's mind isn't always on science, however: her job at Coffee Crush, her parents' separation, and her painful breakup with Nick, not to mention mysterious deaths in the neighborhood, occupy her thoughts. When an unusual set of events line up precisely at 3:59 a.m., Josie finds a door that opens to a parallel universe, but only for a moment and only twice a day. In this other world, steadfast Josie exists as Jo, a spoiled young woman who still appears to have Nick's love. But Jo's existence is far from fun and games, despite expensive clothes and a BMW. While the same people live in both worlds, their personalities are different. Even worse, Jo's world is inhabited by Nox, creatures that make it deadly to be out at night. The story focuses primarily on Josie, Nick, and the Nox in one dimension, along with people who have transferred between the two universes. Parental love, double-crossing, and the nature of friendship all have a place in the plot. To fully move into Josie's world, readers need to embrace quasi-scientific jargon and believe that teens could construct and operate a version of a multimillion-dollar, top-secret government laser, in a basement, using mirrors held by hand. Those looking for romance/adventures set in parallel universes will come away satisfied.—Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TX
Kirkus Reviews
In this quasi–science-fiction novel, doppelgangers Josie and Jo agree to temporarily trade places after their mothers' scientific experiments accidentally open a portal between their parallel worlds. The situation soon spirals out of control as Jo's mother (who also secretly traded worlds) attempts to make the trade permanent by destroying the portal. McNeil deserves credit for writing science fiction featuring women scientists. Josie and her lab partner, Penelope, as well as Penelope's parallel-world other, Pen, all casually drop quantum-mechanics and parallel-universe theories and use the scientific method to understand the portal between their worlds. However, the devil is in the details, and offering little explanation of the scientific theories under discussion compromises the novel's scientific tenor. Further stretching the science is the improbable existence of the laser that is used to create the portal. Readers must accept that an X-FEL laser, "one of the most high-tech, cutting-edge pieces of equipment in the world," whose production at a lab required "millions in funding, a team of A-list scientists and engineers, top secret specs no one had ever seen," was secretly recreated out of scraps in a residential basement. Also implausible is the half-baked insta-romance (true love after four days, really?) that fails to create romantic tension. The patchy science, though hastily injected with romance, makes for an unsatisfying read. (Science fiction. 12-18)
“McNeil’s movie-quick setup speed and humorously inventive language…make her a very welcoming author who succeeds at injecting fresh verve into some stalwart sci-fi concepts.”
ALA Booklist
Praise for TEN: “In the esteemed tradition of teen horror fiction, TEN hits all the high notes: a stormy night, illicit liaisons, cut phone lines, suspicious disappearances, double-crosses, secret histories, and plenty of twists.”
Nancy Holder
“Gretchen McNeil’s TEN is my new number one! I jumped at every creaking floorboard in my house and on the page. This is sure to be a teen thriller classic!”
Christopher Pike
Praise for TEN: “TEN is a real page turner! Gretchen McNeil knows how to plot a thriller: Her setup is flawless and the suspense kept me on the edge of my seat.”
Kimberly Derting
Praise for POSSESS: “With demons, secrets, and a butt-kicking heroine, POSSESS is a whole lotta dark and twisted fun!”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“A book that will set science geeks’ hearts aflutter.”
Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
“This book is scientifically action-packed, complete with monsters and drama. Teens who are fans of the ever-popular Dr. Who television series will love this book.”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range:
13 Years

Meet the Author

Gretchen McNeil is an opera singer, a writer, and a clown. She is also the author of Get Even as well as Ten, which was a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, a Romantic Times Top Pick, and an ALA Booklist Top Ten Horror Fiction for Youth and was nominated for Best Young Adult Contemporary Novel of 2012 by Romantic Times. Gretchen blogs with the Enchanted Inkpot and is a founding member of the vlog group the YARebels.

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3:59 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
terferj More than 1 year ago
I was very skeptical when I first started. It didn’t pull me in and I wasn’t getting into it but that all changed when the switch happened. Oh my, what a horrible trade! It was crazy how similar their worlds were but yet so different. Josie ended up getting the bad deal in this bargain but things started looking up for her. She’s made some wrong choices but she was a smart cookie with figuring out what happened, what needs to be done, and just her quick thinking. This book was crazy and it had me flipping through it to get to the end to see what happens. I really truly ended up enjoying this and I would love if there was some more.
Nova_Blogder More than 1 year ago
I was initially excited to start this book, as it got reasonable hype. The idea sounded cool and I really like doppelgangers on The Vampire Diaries, which is why I hoped I would like this one too! To my happiness, it did not disappoint. My reactions kind of changed throughout the book, which isn't a bad thing! Not even in the slightest. First, I thought "oh, this has a lot of drama" because things happen at the beginning that make it sound more like a contemporary. Then things turned for the weird and I was like "that's fine, but I'm going to need some kind of explanation." However, that made me regret it because I got this truckload of science around the middle. I actually hate science because I find it really boring and I don't get it (most of the time). After that passed, it kind of went to this shocking moment (that wasn't all that shocking) where I was mildly surprised. Finally I went from that to heartbroken in .2 seconds and then the book closed. This book was very feels-inducing, as you can probably tell by my whirlwind of emotions. It was also very straightforward (seeming) and then the ending was pretty turny, though I suspected it a little. The plot was okay, if not a bit tiring in some spots. I felt like there was drama that didn't need to be there. I don't mind teen drama but this story had a cool theme that kind of became less cool because of the drama. To be honest, I didn't really like the characters. They were tolerable, but I just didn't like them. Sometimes they'd say things that were really intelligent and others they were so stupid. But they were tolerable which doesn't usually happen. I'm typically the love/hate kind of person which is why this is strange. However, I can say that they added to the story in ways where they were more than just boring plot devices. So that's a plus. 3:59 was kind of neutral for me. Usually I have loads to say (good and bad) about books, however there isn't too much. I liked it and it gave me feels, but that's about it. I didn't really have criticism for much nor did I have dislike. I'm hoping to go read another of McNeil's books because I've heard they're scary. I'm into scary!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kimmiepoppins More than 1 year ago
This was my favorite Gretchen McNeil book to date!!! I'm more of a thriller reader than a horror aficionado and things like overlapping universes, doppelgängers and portals just make all my neurons fire. Add in intrigue, characters behaving unexpectedly and shadowy creatures and you've got an absolute page turner. And the ending???? I WANT MORE!!!! 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Waits for the tomcats
BlkosinerBookBlog More than 1 year ago
    This idea of parallel universes, traveling in time and such have always fascinated me. Because what if I had made a different decision, what if I had more money, what if, what if, what if. And this explores that, Josie jumps at the chance to live a different version of herself.      There is a lot of suspense in this one, with attacks and action right away.      I connected with and felt for Josie. Her parents were going through a tough seperation and it can't be understated how hard that is. Especially since they both put her in the middle and to top it all off, her mom has been working non-stop and she just feels so isolated and alone.      The science in this one really went over my head, but it seems well researched and thought out and though of course stretches the realm of possibility it is grounded in solid ideas.       There is a whole other spin on this alternate universe that Josie decides to jump into and try the life of Jo. This world has monsters and they will claw and eat you if you are in the dark. But of course Jo didn't tell Josie that, and she also hid other details from her so that she is surprised while living Jo's life.      The romance is interesting, and I liked seeing how nature and nurture made the parallel characters both alike and very different at the same time. I do see a difference between the two Nicks, but I still wish that I would have seen some growth with Josie that she wouldn't have based everything on a boy. I mean, I understand the hormones and attraction, but still.      It was unreal how it all worked together and how it was all linked together. The worlds, the characters, the incidents that set it into motion was all crafted well. I also liked how the ending was, I was left with this sense of hope and closure.  Bottom Line: Loved the premise and the characters were pretty well written.