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.
I’m not going to lie, this book was NOTHING like what I thought we were going to get. I honestly thought this was going to be a fluffy contemporary and quick summer read. Boy, was I wrong. This book went from being light to pretty damn dark really quickly. The only spoiler I’m going to include is a Trigger Warning for sexual assault (discussed twice throughout the book, slightly lengthy discussion in Chapter 19).
This book did a good job of making an extra trope-y plot not overly predictable. Honestly, the entire concept of this book revolves around insta-love, but the romance that blossoms from it is actually pretty nice. Both characters (within the context of the romance) are likeable and the romance takes some time to bloom. There is a lot of talk about sex, which was (slightly) concerning at first until I realized this was New Adult not Young Adult. Nothing got graphic (PG-13+) but there was just a lot of dialogue concerning if characters were sleeping together or not. Again, not a problem when you’re in the right genre mindset.
The MC was okay. She wasn’t overly likeable but I didn’t hate her either. You did feel sympathy for her, but having never been in her situation, I can’t speak to how accurately she was portrayed. The MC grew up in the foster care system and had issues trusting. Even after being adopted, it took her a decent portion of the book to finally warm up to her adoptive father.
The love interest was not believable at all. He seemed nice and was likeable and all, but his online social fame was a bit unrealistic. I get that social media stars exist and live amongst us common folk, but the Humans of [Pick a Location]/Good Deed natures of his “stardom” was just meh. That aside, he was fine. From the little development and back story we got from him, he seems like a realistic enough guy.
The side characters were pretty forgettable in my opinion. The didn’t take away from the overall plot and were not annoying, but they were not the best side characters I’ve ever read about. The exception is Eben’s sister and Allie’s friend and that’s only because these characters had a lot of time dedicated to their back stories.
As for the plot, honestly, it goes the way you think it’s going to go for the first two-thirds of the book. In the last third, I was expected the usual trope of the main couple breaks up for some stupid reason and then they get back together shortly before the book ends. For the most part, that’s not what happened. Without giving too much away, it gets kind of dark and sad for the last third. It’s a bit unrealistic, but for what it is, it was interesting to read about. There were some parts I really did not like (**baby spoilers: the couple breaking up**) but it did not detract from my overall reading experience.
This book was not my favorite. A few things were a bit too far-fetched, even for an insta-love contemporary and the overall plot went on an emotional rollercoaster I did not sign up for. This book was marketed like a fluffy contemporary and that was NOT what we got. Those in the mood for a New Adult contemporary with the emotional roller coaster of The Fault in Our Stars will enjoy this one! This won’t be the next big summer read, but this book will make you feel the gamut of emotions 300 pages.
⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 3 out of 5 Stars