“On the morning he was to die, the old man woke early and set about making breakfast.”

The Last Equation of Issac Severy by Nova Jacobs

An interesting book that kept me reading the whole way through. This was a library book. It’s interesting how so many popular general fiction novels now have some kind of “whodunit” aspect to it, as if the crime thriller genre has just taken over everything. Is that what sells now?

The story had a great first line. It immediately hooks the reader in. So we’re about to read about someone dying. And why did it sound like the old man knew he was going to die, and all he was doing is waking up early and make breakfast?

The rest of the story itself wasn’t entirely believable to me, but that could be because I’m not versed in mathematics at all. Though one of the blurbs/reviews about this book was that anyone would be able to enjoy it, whether they were into mathematics or not. Now that I think about it, I did enjoy reading it, I just didn’t find it wholly believable.

The novel itself doesn’t really have much of a “message” or moral to it. It was really just an interesting story. Something a buddy would tell you at a pub and you’d keep thinking about it later. Nothing to really learn a life lesson from or anything, but just something fun to read about.

I want to talk about the characters. Hazel is meant to be the main character of this novel, but we come to find that parts of this story are also told by Gregory (Hazel’s brother) and Philip (Hazel’s uncle). Strangely I didn’t find Hazel or Gregory as believable narrators, but Philip’s voice rang the most true to me.

Hazel talks about herself and her life as if she was an utter failure. Yet somehow we are to believe that her brilliant genius of a grandfather had entrusted his life’s greatest work to her. This was not believable to me–perhaps it would have been more convincing if there were more backstory to the relationship between her and Isaac to show readers a reason for this trust between them.

Gregory… such a strange character and his motivations are obvious yet ridiculously unbelievable at the same time. I’m not going to elaborate further as that would amount to spoiling the story, but his part of the story is just… it felt like he was a plot device.

Philip was very well done, I thought. I found him relatable and easily likeable. I actually felt bad whenever it seemed like misfortune was about to befall him.

As for keeping the reader going: Jacobs did a very good job of setting up several questions to be answered. I wanted to know the answer to everything and the pace of each slow reveal was well-timed. Jacobs has a good eye for plot and pace, and this make the book entertaining to read. Though there were a few points in the plot that felt forced, where the characters made decisions that just didn’t seem true to themselves, and were made more to drive the plot forward to its eventual end.

Would I read this book again? Probably not. It’s not really a “deep-read” type of novel and really the interest is gone as soon as all the questions have been answered.

Would I recommend this book to someone else? Prooobably not. It’s not really a book I would raved about. Maybe if someone was bored and wanted a fun, light read, I’d recommend this book. Or if I knew any mathematicians that wanted to dabble in a cool story that had nothing to do with maths…

All in all, a fun, light read. Thank you, Nova Jacobs.

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