Tuesday, June 24, 2008


This is a re-read, but I like it so much I want to talk about it. Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl is an amazing book.

I stumbled across Pessl's book for the second time at Half-Price Books for $2. Um, yeah, snatched it up. It ended up being the UK version though. I don't actually get the flowers and the Spanish dancing drawings it has inside the cover. It's pretty, but doesn't fit the book at all. Whatever.

The story is about Blue Van Meer and her professor father Gareth. After Blue's mother dies, the two travel across America, living in about three towns a year. He teaches; she goes to school. Life is good--until Blue's senior year, when they spend a whole year in a little town in North Carolina. There she meets five students nicknamed the Bluebloods (no vampires involved) and teacher Hannah Schneider--and her whole world changes.

So it sounds like a typical bildungsroman but it's not. Here's what I like about it:
*It cites more books than any other novel I've ever read--but Blue works it into the story.
*It suddenly shifts into a murder mystery part way through.
*It has a jaw-dropping ending--seriously, everything falls together and hangs on a thread.
*It's postmodern--you don't know what the truth is at the end. It's like Daphne Du Marier's My Cousin Rachel in that respect--you don't know what to believe at the end (was Rachel truly evil or just a flaky woman?!?).

Also, if you're interested, I read this interview with Marisha Pessl last year and really enjoyed it.

I'm giving it a 10 because it's a book that has impacted me. It does have its flaws (too wordy at times, can take awhile to get into, etc.) but I still think it's amazing and unique.

Rating: 10/10

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