Friday, 30 January 2015

Review: Love and Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Lee Alexander

Love and Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Lee AlexanderLove and Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Lee Alexander (reading copy) - Charlie Hanson has a clear vision of his future. A senior at Brighton School of Mathematics and Science, he knows he’ll graduate, go to MIT, and inevitably discover solutions to the universe’s greatest unanswered questions. He’s that smart. But Charlie’s future blurs the moment he reaches out to touch the tattoo on a beautiful girl’s neck.

The future has never seemed very kind to Charlotte Finch, so she’s counting on the present. She’s not impressed by the strange boy at the donut shop—until she learns he’s a student at Brighton where her sister has just taken a job as the English teacher. With her encouragement, Charlie orchestrates the most effective prank campaign in Brighton history. But, in doing so, he puts his own future in jeopardy.

By the time he learns she's ill—and that the pranks were a way to distract Ms. Finch from Charlotte’s illness—Charlotte’s gravitational pull is too great to overcome. Soon he must choose between the familiar formulas he’s always relied on or the girl he’s falling for (at far more than 32 feet per second squared).
From Goodreads.

With it's brilliant cover and a blurb that sounds like heartbreak is inevitable, I absolutely had to read Love and Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Lee Alexander. However, despite it being a really sweet story, I was left feeling a little disappointed.

Charlie's life is turned upside down when he reaches out and touches the tattoo of the girl in front of him in a queue at Krispy Kreme's. He was all set; one seriously smart guy, he is graduating this year to hopefully head off to MIT where he will change the world. But then he meets Charlotte, and everything changes. When Charlotte discovers he's going to the school where her sister just started as the English teacher - a school which does it's best every year to force the English  teacher to leave by playing pranks - she makes it clear that if Charlie was to make Ms. Finch's life hell at school, it would make her life easier at home. Wanting to impress and help this beautiful girl, Charlie suddenly finds himself leading the class in doing whatever it takes to wind Ms. Finch Up, despite the fact it might damage his future prospects. The more he sees of Charlotte, the harder he falls, and then he discovers she's ill. She has terminal cancer. But now it's too late for him to walk away to save his heart.

Love and Other Unknown Variables was ok. Charlie was the main appeal for me. He's really sweet and has an innocence about him. Being a geek, he's sadly not had much experience with girls, and so his reactions to and social-stumbles around Charlotte are so endearing. I'm really into geeks as people, so I loved all the awesome science and maths facts, and how Charlie related various parts of the story to scientific theories. And good ol' Schrödinger and his cat were mentioned, and I just love that whole idea! So Charlie was cute, and I quite liked him.

But this story just didn't move me. I don't feel we get to know Charlotte enough. We just see what we see of her, and yeah, she's nice enough, but other than she's really into art and reading, and how she feels about her cancer, we don't get told very much. Never at any point did it feel to me that she felt more than just friendship for Charlie, even when their relationship moved forward. So I just couldn't get behind their relationship, or her really. So when the inevitable happens, I wasn't left  bereft. I felt sad for Charlie, which is when the book starts to get emotional for me, reading how he reacts, but only small scale. My heart did not break as I was expecting, so I was quite disappointed. This might be because I had just finished reading a book that blew my mind and wreaked havoc with my emotions, and I guess I was expecting something similar and it just didn't match up.

Sadly, Love and Other Unknown Variables is pretty forgettable for me. But check out a few other reviews, it might be something you would enjoy.

Thank you to Entangled Teen via Foyles for the reading copy.

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Published: 7th October 2014
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Shannon Lee Alexander's Website

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