What is it about?
This book is weird and is kind of difficult to explain, but basically you can access alternate realities or universes through special bottles. Theo Bernstein is a physicist shamed for blowing up something called the Very Large Hadron Collider and has had a string of bad luck follow him ever since. His mentor dies and bequeaths him one of these bottles, but everyone wants a piece of the action and he failed to include instructions.
Is it good?
This book is weird. And for the first third of the book I was not entirely sure I wanted to read it. But I have a hard time giving up on books so I kept going. Once I got used to the weirdness and jumping around from scenery to scenery I found myself able to enjoy the book. Unfortunately it got weird again at the very end.
The book has some interesting ideas about family and science. I imagine it might be good for book clubs from a discussion point of view. Here are some quotes I really found myself identifying with.
That’s the problem with being human. We have brains capable of figuring out the universe to a thousand decimal places, we can build machines as tall as mountains or as tiny as specks of dust, we can pride open atoms like walnuts, we can calculate the weights of distant stars, manipulate nature, ride on a super-sophisticated fireworks out beyond the atmosphere, we could blow up our own planet in the time it takes to blow your nose; there’s practically nothing we can’t do, except choose our relatives.
Family is family, there is no arguing that. We love them even though they can sometimes make us mad. My family is not crazy at all, especially when compared to Theo Bernstein and his companions, and yet from the age of (14-24) I could not be in the same room as my brothers without getting pissed off about one thing or another. Now that we live far away in Seattle I believe I have more patience, and I even miss them a little.
“Actually, that’s how I feel about my sister. Two parts a sort of mystical union of souls, three parts constant unbearable irritation. Also, I never know what to get her for her birthday.”
If your shopping for me, just get me books. That always makes me happy. But I just don’t know with my brothers… or most people for that matter. Anyway the quote above is a good description of those young adult years I mentioned.
Family isn’t the only thing this book has strong opinions about.
“I’m beginning to have serious doubts about science in general. I mean, look at this place. Look what they’ve done to it. And who made it possible? Well?”
“People like me, is who. People with vision, and imagination combined with knowledge, determination, passion and an infinite capacity for taking pains. Geniuses did this, Theo. Not fools, not people who count on their fingers and move their lips when they read. Idiots could never have figured out how to turn oozing black sludge into cheap energy, or designed the internal combustion engine. No, that took the finest minds the human race has ever produced. If we’d left it to the dumb-as-dogshit farmer, all this would be golden ocean of frigging grain.”
This is said when they visit a global warming version of our planet. I’m inclined to agree that we sometimes make mistakes in the name of science but as far as I am aware, I think the tradeoff has been worth it. But where do you draw the line?
So, I guess what I am trying to say is that this book was interesting, and it got me thinking about my life and my planet. I would recommend it with the disclaimer that it is weird, and I am not sure I will continue reading the series.
Up Next: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll or This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper