Review: 180 seconds, Jessica Park

When you’re a huge contemporary reader like I am, not many books have the possibility of surprising you so much. Ultimately, they all come down to the same things, whether it’s a character-development thing, a cute romance, or anything, really. They all got the same recipe, and it’s a matter of what the author does with this and the little twists he adds in it that makes it stand out. I’m still surprised as I am writing these words, to say that 180 seconds was one of these books that stood out and surprised me a lot, in an amazing way.



Allison has been into a gazillion different foster homes before Simon decided to adopt her as she was in high school. Now in her third year of college, she is used to avoiding people as much as she can and would rather stay in her room than try and socialize with other people. Right from the start, you know that Allison is one of these characters having big anxiety issues and is basically a closed door – she won’t open to anyone, no matter how politely you knock. Being a very anxious person myself – not to Allison’s point, but still – I thought that this was very well portrayed, it felt realistic without being over the top, and it was so good to be able to RELATE so much to a character.



β€œWe are engaged in a form of intimacy that scares the absolute hell out of me. It’s as if there is a weight on my chest that I want to shove off, and I’ve never been this terrified before.
Or this whole and hopeful and connected.
My body starts to tremble. I want more of what I’m feeling, and I also want none of it.”

But this book isn’t about Allison’s anxiety and her struggles through college – she’s a pretty good student, by the way. This book is about the experiment that tears down her walls and makes her open up to the world, to love, to family, to trust. 180 seconds: that’s the name of the experiment, and it’s quite simple. One day on the street, she’s stopped by a girl she doesn’t know and has to stare into the eyes of a stranger for 180 seconds. Three minutes in which something, a connection, happens. With a complete stranger – handsome, obviously -, but still. A strong connection they both can’t deny.
Now, I get you, and I see you coming with all of your comments: this kind of feels like insta-love, doesn’t it? Well, that’s where I was surprised, and that’s where you’d be wrong to misjudge this right away. This is not insta-love, as they don’t fall in love in the matter of three minutes. This is a connection, this is something you can get when you see a person for the first time, talk, do something. A connection, a feeling – the way this thing was described was overall realistically handled and powerful, if you ask me, perfectly grasping the feelings of connection.



β€œI know you’re fragile. I get that.” His touch lingers against me. β€œYou’re also tougher than you think. You’re fighting right now, and fighters aren’t weak. But you don’t have to fight alone.”

If there’s something else that the author knew how to describe, it’s the feelings overall as they develop, as Allison slowly gets out of her shell, slowly explores the world around her and discovers this stranger she met for three minutes, Esben. There is stunning character development in this book as we see the main character grow and change thanks to the people around her, but most of it all, to herself. This did not feel like a β€œlove-saves” kind of trope, where the guy somehow manages to make her anxiety disappear. It felt like she motivated herself out of her funk every single day, getting stronger…Then falling down and getting up again on her own, with people to rely on along the way. Allison and Esben’s relationship developed rightly and at a good rhythm, especially for first relationships and first times, with love and respect for each other, cuteness and a whole damn lot of complications at times for sure. They were definitely a relationship I rooted for, and one that did not take away any of the characters’ development or took away Allison’s spotlight in the story.

Family and friendships were also a very strong suit in this story, taking as much place as the love interest, which I appreciated a lot. What we have between Steffi and Allison is real, honest, unflinching best friendship with support, pep talks and long distance calls. On the other side, Allison’s father Simon was one of the greatest father figures ever: I loved seeing his bond with Allison grow as the story got along, I loved seeing it evolve and it just made my heart burst with happiness and love for him. .


180 seconds surprised me by its honesty in everything it talked about, from β€œlight” themes such as first love and family bonds, opening up and overcoming your fears, to more heavy ones like grief, loss and I won’t say more except that it had me crying like a baby. I also LOVED how the social media experience was included in this with Twitter, Facebook, Blogging, troll comments, Instagram and so many other things as well, making it feel even more realistic. It’s a book I would recommend for sure.

Final rating:Β  it’s a hurricane!

A million thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the early copy of this book. This did not, in any way, influence my thoughts on this book.

Β Do you want to read 180 seconds? Share your thoughts in comments!

Jessica Park, 180 seconds, Β Published by SkyScrape, April 25th 2017.

Β goodreads-badge-add-plus-fad3b68d35050280ea55d50f17c654b5

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 thingβ€”and if she can finally trust in herself, in others, and in love.

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Book blogger, travel blogger, writer. πŸ“š |🌍 | πŸ’ž Writing & Communications Graduate. French. Living on love, wanderlust and ya books.

42 thoughts on “Review: 180 seconds, Jessica Park

  1. This sounds exactly like a book I would love! And you’re right, I’m totally guilty of thinking “insta-love” right after reading about the experiment πŸ˜€ But I’m happy it’s not. I’m happy there’s a genuine connection and the author avoided the “guys saves girl” trap.

    Great review! I’m going to add this one to my TBR πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh thank you so much, I’m happy I managed to convince you! I really thought it would be insta-love, but instead I felt a genuine and growing connection as they got to know each other, it was lovely to read πŸ™‚ I hope you’ll enjoy it! πŸ™‚

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  2. YES! I am so happy this one surprised you and that you enjoyed it! I love Jessica Park. I’ve read all of her books. You need to read the rest of them if you liked this one. They’re all so different and amazing. Great review! πŸ™‚

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  3. Wow this sounds like an amazing book Marie, πŸ™‚ and I’m definitely going to be adding it to my to-read list. I’m glad it’s not a case of insta-love for the characters, and I’m glad you specifically mentioned that in your review because I probably would have thought differently if you hadn’t you know? Also the character development sounds beyond amazing. I already can’t wait to get started so I can discover more about Allison’s character and how she changes throughout the novel.
    Great review! πŸ˜€ ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I get it, to be honest I thought it was going to be insta-love just as well, but I was surprised by the development of the relationship, which I really enjoy. I hope you’ll be able to read it soon and love it just as much as I did πŸ™‚ Thank you, Beth!

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  4. WOW, guys, it’s a HURRICANE! XD And I’ve heard of this book before and it sounds really good! I definitely agree that it’s not insta-love if you feel a connection, then develop the relationship. And the quotes that you shared are just AGH. Like WHOA BEAUTIFUL WRITING, HUH. XD

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  5. Wow this sounds so much deeper than I thought it would be to be honest- your review is so fantastic cos you’ve explored so many themes I had no idea would be in the book from other reviews I’ve read! I already wanted to read this, but this really does sound incredible!! Brilliant review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohh thank you so much, I’m so happy I managed to convince you! I was so surprised by this book, I didn’t expect it to be so, deep and interesting, dealing with so many different issues. Hope you’ll love it just as much as I did! πŸ™‚


  6. Now I really want to read this! All I knew about it before was that it had a cool cover and I’m not sure I would have read it without knowing that there was no insta love. The concept is intriguing and the main character sounds like someone I might be able to relate to and I’ve been wanting to read books with college age characters characters. I’m actually really excited for this!

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  7. You just made me want to read this one even more, Marie! I didn’t even know what this was about until I read your review (even though I added it to my TBR simply because I love the author’s other book Left Drowning) but I think it’s neat how it deals with a social experiment. Funny enough I remember reading an article about an experiment just like this that I have bookmarked on my phone about this person who tested out “love at first sight” by doing this. I wonder if that’s where Jessica Park got the idea? Either way, it sounds incredible. I love that it doesn’t make it a love cures all kind of thing and that it showcases anxiety realistically. And if there is anything I know from the author’s other book is that she is good at writing grief and making you cry. I am definitely going to have to read this one soon. Maybe even next as I’ve been wondering what to read next. Great review as always!! 😁β™₯

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohhhh this makes me so, so happy, Melissa! I hope you’ll read it soon!
      OH do you still have the article somewhere? I’ve been trying to find it but couldn’t. I really love the whole idea SO much. I hope you’ll read it next so that we can talk about it πŸ˜€

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      1. I actually found it in my bookmarks just now 😁
        It’s such a great idea! And I will most likely be reading it soon. I’m actually trying to choose between it and this other book at the moment lol. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve seen this book around the blogosphere and thought the cover is beautiful! I don’t read a lot of contemporaries and this year I made it a point to. I haven’t been disappointed by the contemporaries I’ve read so far and looks like 180 seconds won’t disappoint either! I love the unique social experiment and I’m intrigued! So glad it’s not insta-love πŸ™‚

    Great review Marie πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohhh, this makes me so happy – I hope you’ll enjoy this book as much as I did. And ifyou ever need contemporary recs, I’m here! It’s my favorite genre πŸ™‚


    1. Ohh thank you, Jackie, I’m so happy you felt the same way while reading this ❀ Right? The 180 seconds were so intense, I loved reading that moment so much!

      Liked by 1 person

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