May 21, 2009

Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl

I think I've mentioned it before, but one of the biggest factors for me in determining what is a good book is making me think. This book definitely did.

Special Topics in Calamity Physics has turned out to be a bit of a cult classic. Marisha Pessl's style certainly has a lot to do with it: she writes from the perspective of the well-read 18yo protagonist, and her writing is peppered with references to works great and obscure (some simply fictional). It's a very entertaining and picturesque style of writing, but the question is whether or not this gets tedious when it's kept up for 500 and some pages. I'm leaning towards yes, because I had to slow down the pace I was reading it about halfway through. Still, it never got to the point where it was flagrantly overdone and ridiculous as the style was consistent well-done throughout, and for that Marisha should definitely be commended.

I probably should have talked about all the ways I do like this book, as they're much bigger than the potentially distracting style. Though most of the characters are teenagers, this book is not a Young Adult book. Instead, the reader is lead through Blue's senior year of high school as she grapples with the death of a beloved teacher (who is questionably close to a handful of her students), and ultimately, her relationship with her single father, the professor who has moved her around several times a year since her mother died.

While Marisha uses a teenage protagonist, the story she tells is more about the grappling with reality for what it is than some sort of teenage angst. I wish I could explain more, but really, you're just going to have to check it out for yourself!

Thanks, Lady Fi, for recommending this to me. I'd also recommend checking out her review.

1 comment:

Thanks for joining our discussion of this book!

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