Saturday, 20 July 2013

When the World was Flat (and we were in love) by Ingrid Jonach (review)

Rating: 3 - good, with reservations
Source: ARC provided by Angry Robot (Thank you!)
Publication date: 3rd September 2013

Check out my review after the jump:

Synopsis from GoodreadsLooking back, I wonder if I had an inkling that my life was about to go from ordinary to extraordinary. When sixteen-year-old Lillie Hart meets the gorgeous and mysterious Tom Windsor-Smith for the first time, it’s like fireworks — for her, anyway. Tom looks as if he would be more interested in watching paint dry; as if he is bored by her and by her small Nebraskan town in general. But as Lillie begins to break down the walls of his seemingly impenetrable exterior, she starts to suspect that he holds the answers to her reoccurring nightmares and to the impossible memories which keep bubbling to the surface of her mind — memories of the two of them, together and in love. When she at last learns the truth about their connection, Lillie discovers that Tom has been hiding an earth-shattering secret; a secret that is bigger — and much more terrifying and beautiful — than the both of them. She also discovers that once you finally understand that the world is round, there is no way to make it flat again. An epic and deeply original sci-fi romance, taking inspiration from Albert Einstein’s theories and the world-bending wonder of true love itself.

When the world was flat starts out with a quote from Albert Einstein: “Logic will take you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” For me that quote does a really good job of setting the tone of the whole book, it lets you know that you should probably leave your science brain at the door, and let your imagination run free.
The story is narrated by Lillie, a sixteen-year-old girl living in a small town in Nebraska. Almost at the same time as Tom, a new, mysterious guy arrives in her town, she starts getting persistent and violent nightmares. She feels inexplicably drawn to Tom and can’t help feeling that these nightmares might have something to do with him. What might at first seem to be a fairly pedestrian love story becomes something else when the nightmares become clearer and clearer and more and more disturbing. Those nightmares were the best part of the story for me, you could really feel Lillie’s exhaustion and simultaneous fear as the pictures in the dreams become clearer but the reason for them becomes more and more complex. The thing that stopped this book from becoming as engaging as it could have been was the pace and complexity of the plot. I felt like every page held some fresh revelation, which was exciting, but also a little bewildering. The laws of space and time are literally being bent around you so some time to breathe and take it all in would have been helpful! The characters weren’t particularly well fleshed out, though they were at least fun to be around. Also I had a few qualms about the central relationship of Tom and Lillie. I thought that once she found out why he first fell in love with her, she should have had more questions, and more persistent ones, for him. All in all though, When the world was flat is a pacy, engaging read, with some fun characters and a satisfying ending. But if you’re looking for a sci-fi read that will stand up to serious scientific scrutiny, then perhaps give this one a pass. What do you think? Have you read When the world was flat? Or has the synopsis and review made you want to pick it up? Let us know in the comments!

- Caroline

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