Review: 180 Seconds by Jessica Park


32487648Title: 180 Seconds
Author: Jessica Park
Publisher: Skyscape
Genre: NA, Romance
Format: eBook
Goodreads Synopsis:

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.


Trigger Warning: Rape – No graphic scenes but it’s a topic that is discussed in the book.

Warning ahead of time; this review might end up turning into a giant gush fest, I loved this book that much. Honestly, I want to shout my love for it from the rooftops and get everyone to give it a read because it’s that good. 180 Seconds is a beautiful story that is as heartbreaking as it is swoon-worthy. Seriously, I went from not being able to stop smiling to crying within in a chapter at one point. Given that I’m a huge fan of Jessica Park’s Left Drowning I should have expected nothing less because this author knows how to make you feel all of the feels. This book, however, was next level and even better than Left Drowning. It ended up being exactly what I needed to get out of the reading funk that I found myself in post-ACOWAR.

“How did you know I would like Wonder Woman?”

“I figured you’d deflected a few bullets in your time and that you were probably tough as steel.”

180 Seconds is the story of Allison who grew up in foster care, bouncing from home to home, until she was adopted at sixteen. However, her time in foster care has caused her to have to her walls up high, unable to truly let anyone besides her best friend Steffi in. That is until one day she’s stopped by a girl on the street and inadvertently ends up participating in the filming of a social experiment where she has to stare into the eyes of a stranger, Esben Baylor, for 180 seconds. Said social experiment leaves Allison’s walls crumbling and her beginning to open up in a way she never expected.

I know what you guys are probably thinking, “That sounds like instalove in the making.” Trust me when I say that this book is anything but. It’s more of an instant connection that ultimately slow builds into one of the most beautiful, swoon-worthy romances I’ve ever read in the New Adult genre. Plus, there is a distinct lack of graphic sex scenes for those that want to read NA but don’t care for all of that.

“I know tons of people out there suck, I do. But mostly, Allison, people are good. They really are. And I am lucky enough to get to witness so much of that good.”

All of that aside, this book is actually about so much more than just the adorable romance. It’s very much about Allison’s journey, her learning to trust others, to let her walls down. She also struggles with anxiety, which was incredibly well written. I found that a lot of her thoughts are thoughts I’ve had before. I’ve honestly never come across a more relatable character. Through her journey we also get a powerful reminder that even though the world is full of terrible things it’s also full of so much good. I’ve used the world beautiful a lot already but I found her journey beautiful and inspiring.

Besides our main character, Allison, there are several other incredible characters developed within the pages of this book – Steffi, Esben, Kerry, and Simon.

“She is part sister, part best friend, part mother, and tonight, when we crawl into bed together, she lets me snuggle into the crook of her arm, as she has done so many nights before.”

Steffi and Allison became best friends after meeting in a foster home when they were younger. Steffi is the type of person who just embraces adventure and is so tough and fierce. Their friendship is incredible and supportive and honestly one of the best female friendships I’ve ever read. I wish there were more friendships like theirs in NA.

Esben… So, I need an Esben in my life guys. New book boyfriend? I think so! Esben is a social media star who uses his online influence to spread positivity and show the world all the good that is out there. He’s so kind and completely open to the world. It’s through one of his social experiments that he and Allison meet. I adored their growing relationship, it was beautiful and full of so much respect. It also never once turned into a ‘love cures all’ situation as Allison’s struggles didn’t vanish nor did he have complete credit in her opening up. It was always Allison pushing herself to let her walls down for herself. Also, there’s Kerry who is Esben’s sister. We don’t see as much of her as I wish we had, however, what we did see of her and the sibling relationship between her and Esben and the eventual friendship between her and Allison was something I loved so much.

“Every kid should have a teddy bear. You’re too old for this, and you were too old when we met, but… a father has to give his daughter a teddy bear, so better late than never.”

Then last but not least there’s Simon, Allison’s adoptive father, who was probably my favorite of them all. He cares for Allison so much, more so than she even realizes at first. I loved seeing their father/daughter relationship grow over the course of this novel. Honestly, one of the best father/daughter relationships I’ve ever seen in a book.

There were also three other minor secondary characters; Carmen, Danny, and Jason. I really wish the three of them had been included more in the story and more developed. Literally the only negative I have for this book.

“I will be brave. I will be brave. I will be brave. I will keep going.”

Overall, I think it’s safe to say that this book completely blew me away. I think I went in expecting just a cute romance and while I got the romance I also got a story of grief, a reminder about all the good that exists in the world, a story of family, and a story of a girl who teaches herself it’s okay to let others in. I’ll continue my overuse of the world beautiful because this book was beautiful. Officially one of my all-time favorites and I highly recommend it!

Have you read 180 Seconds? What did you think? If not is it on your TBR?





30 thoughts on “Review: 180 Seconds by Jessica Park

  1. Yes yes yes, oh I’m SO happy you loved this book as much as I did, Melissa! ❤ I really thought it would be insta-love but I was surprised by it all, and I loved how the relationship slowly grew with respect for each other, what they both wanted and everything 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was such a good book!! I’m so glad I read your review for it because otherwise it might have been a while longer before I picked it up. 😁 Same! I thought it was going to be insta-love too from the synopsis which is why I think I was hesitant at first but I’m glad it wasn’t and the way Jessica Park wove the whole social experiment thing in was brilliant. Me too about the relationship, it was incredible. There needs to be more like it in NA in my opinion. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review for this book Melissa. I’ve only seen one other review for 180 Seconds but next to this one I have more than enough reasons to pick up this book ASAP. It sounds like an amazing story and yours is the second review (of the two I’ve seen) that emphasizes there’s no instalove in 180 Seconds, which yeah is great because I’m never going to be a fan of the instalove trope! 🙂
    Allison sounds like an amazing character, and oh I am so excited to read more about her growing relationship with Esben because it sounds so cute (also I’m very glad this one doesn’t turn out to be a love-cures-all thing too!). The characters all sound amazing, and so do the relationships they have with one another because the family dynamics you’ve described between Allison and Steffi, Allison and Simon, and Esben and Kerry sound like just the kind of family relationships I love reading.
    I am adding this to the top of my to-read list for my Summer contemporary binge. I hope I love it as much as you did! 😀 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Beth!! 😁♥ I bet I know who else’s review you saw. It was Marie’s right? Her review is what convinced me to read it because it sounded like the perfect book for me! That and the fact that I’m familiar with the author’s other books. But yeah, this one wasn’t insta-love at all. I was really surprised by that fact because the synopsis almost seems to point at insta-love but nope. The author took the whole idea and made it the perfect slow-build romance. Probably the best I’ve seen in NA.
      Allison was an amazing character! She was so relatable and her relationship with Esben was WAY TOO CUTE. Seriously, they made me so giddy and I couldn’t stop smiling during pretty much all of their interactions. And the other relationships in this book were the best. I love how while it had the whole romance aspect it put a huge emphasis on family and friendships. I have a feeling you’ll love that part as much as I did because I know you’re big on the family and friendship thing in contemporaries too.
      I can’t wait to see your thoughts on it whenever you get to reading it and I hope you end up enjoying it as much as I did!! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s all right, and yes it definitely was! Her review convinced me to add this book to my to-read list and yours has convinced me to pick it up that little bit sooner than I would have! 🙂 I’m not familiar with the authors other books but this one sounded pretty amazing, plus with the amazing reviews it has so far I’m convinced I’ll love it as well! 🙂 Kind of the best way a synopsis could be misleading, better than the other way around at least!
        I am definitely big on relationships and families in contemporary books. If they’re written well they’re honestly my favourite thing to read and from the sounds of your review (and what you’ve just said in this comment) it sounds like they were written incredibly well in this book. I can’t wait to get started, and I’ll be sure to let you know what I think when I finish it as well. I hope so too! 😀 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      • If I’m being honest this one is probably the author’s best. I actually went back and reread her other book that I’ve read right before this one and you comparing them I can see how much she’s improved. Which of course she would have seeing as how she’s written several books since that one. Right? It was the best way a synopsis could be misleading. I like it whenever you think you’re going to find one thing in a book because of the synopsis but then it surprises you in a good way.
        Same. This one definitely has both aspects extremely well-written! 😁

        Liked by 1 person

      • I find that with a lot of authors, the more they’ve written the more you can see their writing improving. It’s something you really do learn as you go along.
        It’s definitely good when that happens and it’s a good surprise too. I’ve had it the other way around though, when a synopsis is misleading in a bad way and that’s never really fun.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’d never even heard of it but it sounds SO SO GOOD?!?!? 😱 🎉 I’m so impressed that it doesn’t fall into any instalove/cure-all tropes with the romance too. THAT IS AMAZING. I obviously need to add this to my TBR immediately. Lovely review!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s REALLY GOOD! I was completely surprised by it and the fact that it didn’t fall into insta love or the love cures all trope. The author really wove in the whole idea of the social experiment brilliantly. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did whenever you get to reading it! Thanks so much, Cait!! 😁


  4. Lovely review, Melissa! This one sounds like a gem! It seems like there are so many wonderful things going for it. A slow-burn romance/a romance that develops over time is always a welcome element to read in books nowadays. Lord knows I’ve had my fill of instal-love. And friendships among girls is something you rarely see in YA and NA (though I’m not that knowledgable about the NA part lol). Also, the emphasis on family is a plus. This book sounds amazing and so sweet! I’ve definitely got to add this one to my TBR! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Azia!! 😁 This one really was incredible and a standout as far as NA goes. I completely agree about slow-burn romances. It was especially nice to see in a NA novel because I run into more insta-love in NA than anything. And as far as female friendships go it’s as rare in NA as it is in YA so I was so happy it was a huge part of this book. I hope you end up enjoying this one as much as I did whenever you get to reading it! 😊♥

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh really?! I never imagined you’d run into more insta-love in NA than YA. I thought NA’s would be championing slow-burn romances lol. And let’s hope for more female relationships in both YA and NA, as well as any other categories that might need it haha. Thank you! I hope so too! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve heard nothing but great things about this book and how wonderful it is, so I am so glad to see you enjoyed it so much too! Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think I can also tell how much you love this book by the many cute quotes you share in your review 🙂 I like them all! I haven’t noticed anyone reviewing this book yet. I do like the sound of adorable romance and a book with a topic that makes a difference to society. Excellent and thorough review Melissa!

    Liked by 1 person

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