Saturday, August 10, 2013

It may be The Theory of Everything, but it just doesn't explain this book....

Book:  The Theory of Everything
Author:  Kari Luna
Publisher:  Philomel
Date:  Now Available
Source:  Publisher via Negalley
My grade:  C-???

One part Libba Bray's GOING BOVINE, two parts String Theory, and three parts love story equals a whimsical novel that will change the way you think about the world.

Sophie Sophia is obsessed with music from the late eighties. She also has an eccentric physicist father who sometimes vanishes for days and sees things other people don’t see. But when he disappears for good and Sophie’s mom moves them from Brooklyn, New York, to Havencrest, Illinois, for a fresh start, things take a turn for the weird. Sophie starts seeing things, like marching band pandas, just like her dad.

Guided by Walt, her shaman panda, and her new (human) friend named Finny, Sophie is determined to find her father and figure out her visions, once and for all. So she travels back to where it began—New York City and NYU’s physics department. As she discovers more about her dad’s research on M-theory and her father himself, Sophie opens her eyes to the world’s infinite possibilities—and her heart to love.

Perfect for fans of Going Bovine, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and The Probability of Miracles.  (Description and cover from

Initial reaction
This is the most bizarre book I can remember reading.

Cover Story
Rather like the book, this is a bizarre cover, but it definitely fits what’s inside.  So, I’m going to say that this one works.

What’s the Story?
To be honest, I’m still not sure what the story is on this one.  I mean, I read the whole thing, and I understood all the words, but I DIDN’T UNDERSTAND!!!!

This is what I think the deal is.  Sophie Sophia is the daughter of a brilliant physicist.  Who has disappeared.  Her mom thought that he was crazy, but he believed in string theory, which apparently is a theory in physics that would allow for parallel universes that at times intersect with our own.

Here is where I had problems with this theory.  I’m ok with the idea of a parallel universe.  However, why would that parallel universe have pandas that could talk, walk and participate in marching band???  Shouldn’t a parallel universe have to follow all of the rules of our own universe?

Another problem I had was that the novel never explained why only certain people were allowed to travel into this parallel universe.  What made Sophie and her dad so special that they could suddenly find themselves in the midst of one of these parallel realities but the rest of us plain joe schmoes can’t do that???

For that reason, I had a hard time buying the whole storyline.  It felt like the end was going to be some big reveal about mental illness instead.  And what happened to bring everything to an end was even more bizarre and unbelievable than the rest of the book.  I don’t know.  I was left totally confused and in complete denial of any of the explanations. 

To me, this felt like one of those paranormal books that doesn’t allow for the suspension of disbelief.  It felt as if the author wasn’t following her own rules, you know?

The writing was great and I enjoyed the characters to a certain extent, I just never was able to buy into the explanations for the dancing pandas.  Honestly, I think that Parallel by Lauren Miller is a better novel exploring string theory.  (Read my review here.)  The explanation for why only one person was experiencing the parallel universe made more sense in that one because there actually WAS an explanation.

The Soundtrack

She’s Lost Control by Joy Division

Brain Damage/Eclipse by Pink Floyd

Day Dream by Smashing Pumpkins

A Quiet Mind by Blue October

Parallel Universe by Red Hot Chili Peppers

The Final Grade
My final grade for this book is C-.  This book just didn’t work for me.  There are a lot of people who like it on Goodreads, so you might want to read some more reviews of it, but it just fell flat for me.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  I received no compensation, financial or otherwise, for this review.  And certainly not a talking panda.

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