Published by Macmillan Children's Books on May 5th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson
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My heart is a kaleidoscope, and when we kiss it makes my world unravel . . .
Last summer, Gottie's life fell apart. Her beloved grandfather Grey died and Jason, the boy to whom she lost her heart wouldn't even hold her hand at the funeral. This summer, still reeling from twin heartbreaks, Gottie is lost and alone and burying herself in equations. Until, after five years absence, Thomas comes home: former boy next door. Former best friend. Former everything. And as life turns upside down again she starts to experience strange blips in time - back to last summer, back to what she should have seen then . . .
During one long, hazy summer, Gottie navigates grief, world-stopping kisses and rips in the space-time continuum, as she tries to reconcile her first heartbreak with her last.
I don’t really know what to make of this book. Have you ever read something and felt like you simultaneously understood everything and understood nothing? This is one of those books for me. As I was reading it, I felt like I was able to follow the science and physics of what was going on, but upon finishing the books, I now realise that I know nothing.
The Square Root of Summer is a story about love and grief. The main character, Gottie, is a 17 year old who lost her grandfather almost a year ago. Lately, she’s been seeing strange gaps in her environment that cause her to travel back or flash back to an event in the past, and lose time in the present. As she tries to piece together what is happening through complex mathematical equations, she realises that her past and present are intertwining in strange ways…
I went into this book with really high hopes because the last book I read with a mix of contemporary and sci-fi was The Love That Split The World and that one was a major disappointment to me (I initially rated it 3.5/5 but every time I think about it, I have even more problems with it). The Square Root of Summer was a little bit better conceptualised in my opinion and more successful as a contemporary and sci-fi crossover. It was grounded in physics and was very well researched, from what I can tell. All of the theories and concepts in the book were very well explained, with the use of diagrams and metaphors, and it really isn’t very difficult to follow the logic of the book. However, what I struggled with was putting all of the concepts together and figuring out what the story ultimately was conveying. While I understood everything separately as they were being explained, I had a hard time understanding what it all meant together. So I felt like I finished the book not completely grasping what had happened.
What I will say though, is that the science and mystery of what was going on kept me interested in the story. Even though I didn’t completely follow all of the science in the novel, it didn’t stop me from enjoying it and wanting to continue. It felt like one big puzzle piece that I had to put together and it was a really intriguing and fun experience. I liked following Gottie’s thought processes as she tried to figure out what was happening in her life and it wasn’t a bad reading experience at all.
The writing itself was also beautiful and I could read the beautiful descriptions in this book over and over. The descriptions were very vivid and I felt like I could really see Gottie’s room where she’s got equations written all over her walls and I could see exactly what the Book Barn looked like. The beautiful English country setting definitely came across to me in this novel. There were other aspects that I really enjoyed. I liked that there was diversity in sexuality and that Gottie was a woman in STEM. Despite not completely understanding everything, I appreciated that there was so much science in this book and that Gottie had aspirations to become a scientist and researcher. I also really enjoyed that one of the male characters is a baker (I have a soft spot for those) and that Gottie’s family is German and there are German words and aspects of German culture littered throughout the book. It’s not something that I see very often in YA fiction.
“I like you then, and now, and probably forever.”
I really enjoyed the characters in this book, for the most part. Gottie was a little bit of an aloof character and I found it hard to connect with her at times. But I also thought that she was a relatable character and I could really connect with the grief she was feeling. I also really, really loved Thomas. He was a really genuine and nice guy, who bakes, and he said some pretty darn romantic things. I enjoyed the side characters as well but my favourite, by far, was Gottie’s father who I thought was really eccentric and adorable in the things he said and did.
While I did have a bit of trouble understanding what the story meant because of all the scientific theories and concepts that I wasn’t smart enough to put together, I did enjoy the reading experience overall. There were some really great and unique characters in the book and I liked how the relationships between them were explored. I wished that I had been able to figure out the story a little bit more because I imagine this would be an amazing book for those who understand it.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing a review copy of the book.
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