The Unseen World by Liz Moore– 451 pages
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.
My Review: 5 stars
The Unseen World was a poignant, smart and slow burn of a book about science, language, secrets and mental health. I had no clue what this book was about when I read it and it didn’t matter to me in the slightest. I loved Liz Moore’s earlier book Heft and was thrilled to dig into her newest novel. These books couldn’t be more different which is a testament to her writing as they both were compelling and thought provoking.
With extremely brilliant characters that solve scientific puzzles and break codes for sport and a main protagonist who is a twelve-year-old savant, I found myself in a world very unfamiliar to me. The completely out of the ordinary relationship between father and daughter was so engrossing as it unfolded into secrets and an unplanned betrayal. Trust and identity are strong themes in this book. I loved being in the lab and I adored the clues that led up to the immaculate ending.
The gradual buildup to the plot worked for me and was glad I just dug in. I imagine some readers getting impatient, but trust me; it’s worth it. I urge readers to not read any reviews that share the storyline in their commentary. This is a book to go into blind and enjoy the ride.
Quotes I liked:
In these moments he was Zeus to her, and she Athena, springing fully formed from the head of her father, alight with grace and wisdom. There they were at the lab or at home, the two of them, always the two.”
-“To Liston, to her children and friends, one’s parish was more important than one’s neighborhood or one’s street.”
-“He existed in a deep recess of her mind as a strange and painful chapter of her own history that she thought about when she was prepared for sadness.”
– “Virtual reality, she thought, was the unseen world. Or had the capacity to be. In fact, it could be said that all computer systems were such: universes that operated outside the realm of human experience, planets that spun continuously in some unseeable alternate stratosphere, present but undiscovered.”
-“Only humans can hurt one another, Ada thought; only humans falter and betray one another with a stunning, fearsome frequency. As David’s family had done to him; as David had done to her. And Ada would do it too. She would fail other people throughout her life, inevitably, even those she loved best.”
-“He had been pretending, then, to look into his past, when really he was looking into some alternate reality, some different version of his own history, some unseen world.”