Title: 180 Seconds
Author: Jessica Park
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Published: April 25th 2017 by Skyscrape
Rating: 4 Stars
*I received a free ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my opinion in any way!*
Blurb via Goodreads: “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.”
!CONTENT WARNING! While this is a cute contemporary novel, it also mentions/deals with some heavy topics such as death, cancer, rape and sexual assault. If you get triggered by any of these, I suggest not reading this book or to read carefully and at your own risk.
180 Seconds is a New Adult contemporary novel about how 180 seconds literally changed Allison Dennis’ life.
Allison is a foster child and has been sent from one home to the next. She never felt like she belonged anywhere and with every passing year she grew wary of trusting people. She was finally adopted by a loving, gay, single father but the past experiences still left their mental scars.
Allison is an introverted, anxious girl who isolates herself and avoids social situations like the plague – the only time she ever leaves her dorm room is to go to college classes or study at the library. She doesn’t let people get too close and hides away in her room most of the time She doesn’t display emotional or physical affection and she has a hard time trusting people.
And that certainly shows in the first interactions we see between Allison and her father.
Her adoptive father Simon is a very sweet, kind and loving man. He respects her boundaries and makes her feel loved and cared for at all times. Being the insecure and scared girl that she is, Allison still believes that her adoptive father has made a mistake with her and thinks he regrets adopting her because of her social awkwardness and isolation. But he never fails to reassure her that he loves her, he showers her with gifts, teases her and is always there for her when she needs him.
Their father-daughter relationship is AWESOME and I especially loved how it developed throughout the story as Allison grows as a person. At first she has a hard time forming a close connection to her adoptive father – she still calls him by his first name, she doesn’t open the packages he sends to her dorm every other week and just doesn’t let him get too close to her.
By the end of the story, Allison and Simon have formed a very tight and strong bond. She learns how to trust him and she starts telling him about exciting things that happen in her life and you can really tell how happy that makes Simon. She even starts calling him Dad and she finally feels like they’re a real family. I just think the development of their relationship was so beautifully done and it has even made me tear up a couple of times! :’)
And Simon is just #dadgoals.
“If I could throw an invisibility cloak over myself and attend college that way, I would.”
The only friend that Allison has is Steffi whom she has known from foster care. They’re polar opposites – Steffi is a tough and confident girl who doesn’t mind being the center of attention while Allison would love nothing more than to hide in her room 24/7 – but it works well for them and they’re best friends.
Steffi is the only person that knows everything about Allison’s past. She’s the one person that Allison can turn to when things aren’t going so well and Steffi will always give her a good pep talk! Sometimes I wish I had a friend like that who kicks my butt and gets me to take risks and get out of my comfort zone!
The thing I loved the most about this book was Allison’s wonderful character development that was exerted so perfectly. She turns from an introverted outsider into a confident and happy young woman with newfound friends and a great family support system.
One person who is probably the catalyst of her development is Esben Baylor – popular social media star and the guy she shares a very passionate kiss with after staring each other down for 3 minutes for one of his social experiments.
A lot of emotions wash over Allison in those 3 minutes – anger, pain, hurt, betrayal – and an unexpected connection develops between the two of them.
And that 180 seconds scene. WOW. Reading that was so intense and powerful and MAGICAL, I was so fully invested in that particular scene. I don’t know how else to explain it – other than it literally left me shook. It took my breath away. It was so incredible to read like wow. Just wow. I encourage everyone to read this book simply for that one 180 seconds scene! 😛
And I know what you might be thinking – “they shared a kiss and now they’re dating/in love?! *cough* INSTA-LOVE *cough*” – but that’s not how it is!!! After they kissed, there was a connection and they felt drawn to each other so they started going on dates. And isn’t that how it happens for a lot of us? They date for a few months before they really define their relationship and take it a step further!
The development of Allison and Esben’s relationship felt very realistic. It developed at a slow pace and they both took their time to really get to know each other.
For the first time in her life, Allison opens up to someone about her past and how the whole foster care experience made her feel. She literally tells him everything about her and explains how the experiences influenced her and how she came to be so socially awkward and introverted. She believes that this will scare Esben off because they’re both so different and she genuinely can’t fathom why he would even go on a date with her.
But Esben was a sweetheart ❤ He doesn’t ever make Allison feel bad or embarrassed for her past and being the way she is. He caters to her, shows a genuine interest and treats her with the utmost care and respect. He is a genuinely a good guy and their interactions especially at the beginning were super adorable and cute and I couldn’t help but AWW out loud a lot!
Being with Esben, who is so open, social and popular both on campus and online, challenges Allison. She finally realises that she can’t stay locked up in her room forever and has a change in attitude.
“You can’t reach what’s in front of you until you let go of what’s behind you.”
She learns to open up to people, how to socialize and that you can actually trust people! Her character development from anxious, socially awkard girl to loving and almost confident girl with a close circle of a few friends was amazing to read/bepart of.
I felt like I could relate to Allison a lot and she is generally a very relatable character if you’re an introvert.
I am usually ‘the shy one’ and I find it difficult to open up to someone and really be myself when I first meet new people. And yes, who doesn’t prefer staying curled up in bed all day with a good book over feeling anxious and uncomfortable in social situations!
And feeling so similar to Allison and seeing her grow into this happy and open young girl – who keeps a circle of a few, but very close friends – can be very inspiring. It was delightful to read about her personal growth and I feel like it could inspire people out there who feel the same way!
I did have a few small issues with some parts of the book – nothing too major though!
At first, I didn’t really know where the story was going to go plot-wise after the first contact between Allison and Esben – was it going to be insta-love and then they marry and have kids or what? But before I knew it, I was halfway and then all the way through the book! So the plot definitely moved along quickly! (I don’t want to say anything about it because spoiler-alertttt :D)
The writing definitely helped with that and it flowed very nicely.
Some passages of the book were a little weird to read. There were some lines of the dialogue that were VERY dramatic and metaphorical and there were things said in some of the dialogues that felt unnatural and they weren’t things that I would say in a real-life conversation.
Generally, the whole story turns very cheesy and dramatic around 2/3 into the book and some things were getting a tiny bit predictable. There were some scenes that felt repetitive because they were so similar;
- Allison believes Esben stood her up at a date but his phone died and his car needed a jump. This basically happens twice – once at the start of the book and once at the end.
- And the situations where Esben randomly meets new people and promotes their shops/ideas etc on his social media channels felt too repetitive after like third person!
But those things didn’t bother me too much and absolutely did not turn this into a bad reading experience.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book and I particularly loved the first half because it was so nice to read about the adorable-ness that was Allison and Esben’s relationship!
180 Seconds is a very cute romantic contemporary novel about love, loss and heartbreak with a good amount of cheesiness and fluff, finding your place and yourself, coming out of your shell and finding love in the most unexpected situations.
(4 out of 5 stars)
Goodreads / Amazon US (currently 45% off!) / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble (also 45% off)
I honestly don’t know where this review got so long lol this must be my longest one yet with almost 2000 words! Oopsies! Anyway, thanks for sticking around if you read it all until the end! And even if you didn’t, thanks for skimming through this or just liking it! 😀
LOVE YAAAAA! ❤
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Are you comfortable around people and being the center of attention at times? Or would you rather stay curled up in bed all day? Do you feel like you could relate to Allison? Let’s chat in the comments!