By: Liz Moore
Published Year: 2016
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Amazon Barnes and Noble
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way shape or form influenced my opinion of this book.
Summary (Provided by Goodreads): Ada Sibelius is raised by David, her brilliant, eccentric, socially inept single father, who directs a computer science lab in 1980s-era Boston. Home-schooled, Ada accompanies David to work every day; by twelve, she is a painfully shy prodigy. The lab begins to gain acclaim at the same time that David's mysterious history comes into question. When his mind begins to falter, leaving Ada virtually an orphan, she is taken in by one of David's colleagues. Soon after she embarks on a mission to uncover her father’s secrets: a process that carries her from childhood to adulthood. What Ada discovers on her journey into a virtual universe will keep the reader riveted until The Unseen World's heart-stopping, fascinating conclusion.
The cover is immediately intriguing. It has a mysterious look to it that I think would make a lot of people want to pick it up. The summary was also mysterious and made me curious. I thought it sounded like an interesting science mystery and I was curious to see what happened. What was David’s mysterious history? What would Ada discover? Who was going to try to stop Ada from discovering information about her father?
What I thought
While not what I expected it to be, this book was definitely interesting and unlike anything I’ve read before.
David is the single father to Ada. He is a genius and the head of a lab who is working on language with computer intelligence. Ada has grown up with the home and the lab as her education. She speaks physics, code, and math as fluently as most people speak English. At the age of 12, David’s mind begins to fail him. He shares with Ada that he has Early Onset Alzheimer’s. As his memory worsens, Ada moves in with Liston, their close family friend, and begins to attend a normal school for the first time in her life. During this time, information comes about that makes Ada and Liston question David’s history. She and the rest of their colleagues work towards unraveling this mystery and make sense of who Ada knows as her father.
I think that based on the description I thought this book was going to be more sinister. I think I pictures something more along the lines of David having done something in his past that his colleagues find out about in order to take him down and ruin his life. Instead, it was an interesting story about a young girl who realizes that she might not have known who her father is after all. With no one to turn to, as David’s memory is essentially gone by the time she starts asking questions, she has to rely on her intelligence and David’s colleagues at the lab to find answers to the millions of questions that keep coming.
This book is a bit slow to start, but as the mystery begins it becomes more difficult to put down. I think if I had understood more what this book was going to be before I started it I would’ve gotten into it quicker. I kept waiting for a villain who was going to come after David and then Ada, but it’s not that kind of story.
The story is also very centered around technology and artificial intelligence. Moore did a good job of writing about these scientific aspects without making them too scientific and above the reader’s head. I found the research that they were completing interesting and I liked how it connected with the story.
The story does bounce back and forth between the 1980s and 2009 which I found to be a little frustrating. There were a lot of times that the switch was at the most inopportune times and didn’t seem to provide any pertinent information to justify the switch. I almost would’ve preferred if it had been evenly split into Part 1: The 1980s and Part 2: The 2000s. Later in the book the switches made a bit more sense, but I still think it took me out of the story a bit when they were so sharp.
This story tells an interesting tale of what people will do for love, both for the people they love and their passions. Everyone is driven by love in some way in this book and each one of them reacts differently. The lessons that Ada learns are fascinating and enlightening.
This story is unlike anything that I’ve read before, so it has been a bit difficult for me to review. It is a bit slow at times and doesn’t always flow. I think it would be a really interesting book club pick as there are a lot of good discussion points. The mystery was captivating and kept me invested in the story. I needed to know what happened to David and Ada and it wasn’t wholly predictable. If you enjoy stories that have a realistic mystery to them, I would recommend this book. It isn’t a mystery in the sense of a thriller novel, but in the sense of real life. I would recommend this book, but I can’t see myself re-reading it or purchasing it for myself which is why I gave it a Borrow rating.