Page-turner is so overused that it has become trite. Here is how I felt about Obscura by Joe Hart. I…COULDN’T…PUT…IT…DOWN! Literally! I was reading my kindle at stop lights, during boring parts of a telephone conference call at work (with my office door closed of course) and when I should really be sleeping. The plot is completely different from what I usually read. It is a mystery but set in the future that included copious comingled science fiction and science fact.
Humans are increasingly becoming victims of a vicious type of dementia that resembles quick onset Alzheimer’s. Dr. Gillian Ryan’s husband falls victim to it. When their daughter also catches it, Dr. Ryan, a neurologist, tries to find a cure using rats. When her funding is cut, she takes a wild gamble on a six-month trip into space to try to find a cure for an even more virulent version of the disease by using human subjects in her trials.
Unfortunately, revealing any more of the plot would be a spoiler. The best part of Obscura are the wild twists in the plot. What is causing the disease to become more intense in space? Will Dr. Ryan find a cure? What will happen to her daughter?
This book is superb. It is recommended to anyone who wants to read an intriguing rollercoaster ride with a scientific bent and a near future setting. 5 stars! At the time of this review, this excellent read was available on Kindle Unlimited. It is definitely worth picking up!
Thanks to the publisher, Thomas & Mercer, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Lengthy meandering summary of research studies about aging.
The Happiness Curve is found worldwide in both males and females and even in apes. The curve shows that people get decreasingly satisfied with life (the definition of happiness used here) from age 20 to their early 50s. After bottoming out, their happiness grows until old age diseases occur sometime in their 80s. Studies cited conclude that at around 50, people get more realistic about what they can still achieve. This jolt to reality is painful and may result in the stereotypical mid-life crisis of divorce, career change and sport cars. A few people may have an ascending line or a V curve depending on their life experiences. Therefore, it is possible to avoid the common depression of mid-life but it is harder then than during other phases of life.
I wanted to like and recommend this book. However, I didn’t and I can’t. The Happiness Curve is full of personal experiences of the author and people he met. I don’t think they added anything other than more pages. Please just get to the information promised in the book’s summary. 2 stars.
Thanks to the publisher, Thomas Dunne Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Complex and completely different from other thrillers, the Last Equation of Isaac Severy is highly recommended.
Isaac Severy is a famous mathematician. Now retired, he is still working on his last equation: how to use chaos theory to predict Los Angeles traffic. As the book opens, Isaac is preparing a breakfast for two in his home. The next day Isaac is found dead in his hot tub along with a set of live Christmas lights with a single bulb crushed. His death is accepted as a suicide. At his funeral, his adopted granddaughter, Hazel, opens a cryptic note from Isaac mailed the day before his death. Isaac tells Hazel that he is only the first of three people soon to die. He commands her to destroy the work he left behind in a mysterious room 137 and deliver his last equation to the elusive John Raspanti. Hazel is advised to not involve other members of the family or the police. Isaac states that he selected Hazel for these tasks because she would be the least likely to be suspected. He says that he cannot do the tasks himself because he is being followed.
Isaac’s note leads Hazel on a merry chase through literature, mathematics and physics. Hazel works with various family members while trying to follow the instructions in Isaac’s puzzling letter. Neither Hazel nor the reader can identify who is a hero and who is a villain. This book has a multitude of side plots. What is the elusive and wealthy P. Boone Lyons after? Why is a physicist who has been dead for sixty years attempting to contact Hazel?
Ostensibly a thriller, the family dynamics are almost more intriguing. Phillip is a tenured physics professor at CalTech. However, his opportunities of winning a coveted Nobel prize are slipping away and his best years are behind him. Tom is released from a long prison term. Why was he in prison and how does that relate to Hazel and Gregory’s fear of his release?
Since the family relationships are rather confusing, I created this handy family tree.
Since Isaac’s work is with chaos theory, it follows that the reader truly doesn’t understand what is going on until almost the end of the book. It is reminiscent of the movie Chinatown, where there are a multitude of plot layers that don’t cohere until the end. I like that uncertainty but some may not. However, the resolution definitely is worth the wait.
The Last Equation of Isaac Severy is a brilliant tour-de-force from a debut author. It is highly recommended to thriller readers. It would also appeal to fans of quirky family dynamics like those in movie, The Royal Tenenbaums. 5 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Touchstone Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
More like Ocean’s Eleven than The Martian but still a 4 star read!
The only similarity between Artemis and The Martian is the main character’s inventive use of science to solve their problems. Jazz is a smuggler on Artemis, the sole city on the moon. She is whip smart but just wants to get rich quick with minimal work. When an opportunity presents itself, Jazz is in. Jazz needs to use all her resources including her intelligence to complete her well-paying scam.
The planning and execution of Jazz’ plan is fascinating due to the use of real science to achieve her goal. Jazz is a great character that feels genuinely different for a caper plot. Some of the science is enthralling–reusable condoms, gizmo Apple Pay/iPad knockoffs, remote-controlled HIB climbing spiders, etc. Overall, a great read for caper fans and a good read for everyone else. 4 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Crown Books, and NetGalley for a review copy.