Published by Skyscape on April 25th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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.
About a year ago, some videos conducting social experiments between strangers went viral. These videos had complete strangers kiss, hug, look into each other’s eyes, and their reactions were filmed. 180 Seconds centres around one such experiment, one with huge consequences for the two people involved.
I really loved this book. It was an anxious person’s dream – or rather, it was my dream. The story feels a bit like Fangirl in the beginning, where the protagonist has major anxiety and starts college on their own. Cue scenes of them trying to avoid people as much as possible, and generally feeling like they’re not a part of anything.
I felt like Allison’s anxiety was written really well. In my eyes, it felt really realistic. It was a perfect portrayal of how excruciatingly difficult it can be to open yourself up to the world out there, when it’s in your nature to distrust everyone and everything.
So then this experiment happens, and it tears down all her walls in three minutes’ time, it scares the crap out of her. Because – and I know this from experience – feeling things can be one of the most daunting things in the world. The idea of a relationship when you’re so jumbled up? It’s the worst. So this love interest has to be pretty damn special. And he is. Esben is so respectful of her anxiety, he’s patient and doesn’t judge. He’s considerate when she’s fragile – like I said, it’s the dream.
Esben has become kind of a social media sensation by uploading these videos. He’s all about random acts of kindness, spreading the love, and putting people in unexpected situations to see how they respond. Especially these scenes made me smile, because it felt so heart-warming to see him believe in all the good in the world, and I’m an absolute sucker for these kinds of articles. Riling up the internet to make sure a six-year-old has the perfect princess birthday party is just one example of all the amazing things he does.
And supportive parents who are actually in the picture! Simon is Allison’s adoptive father, and he might have been my favourite of all. He was adorable, and his relationship with Allison was really emotional. Their scenes gave me happy tears because she felt so unworthy of love and Simon’s exactly what she needs in a father and it’s amazing.
I also really liked the friendship between Allison and Steffi. Especially in YA, best friends don’t always feel like best friends, but 180 Seconds radiated some truly powerful girl vibes. So when everything with Steffi went down, I couldn’t stop myself from tearing up. I won’t say too much, just that I’m usually an insensitive monster who only cries when something happens to animals, but my damn eyes would not. stay. dry.
This book talks about some pretty powerful and sad stuff and will therefore make you emotional for all the right reasons, but it will also give you mad happy feels until you’re smiling like an idiot. It’s the perfect college contemporary about a late bloomer who’s finally allowing herself to open up to everything, with awesome friendships and a few cute dogs.
Thank you NetGalley / Skyscape for providing me with a copy