A Working Theory of Love by Scott Hutchins(5 out of 5)

Neill Bassett’s marriage is over- immediately after the honeymoon. Anyone else would be, and should be, heartbroken. Neill is, except it manifests itself in odd ways. Specifically, he’s putting everything he has into the world’s first sentient computer. Neill’s inspiration? His father-who committed suicide over a decade ago-had loads of journal entries. Neill, in what I could only construe through the writing as an act of grief, is feeding those inexplicable journal entries into the computer. You almost feel, through the dialogue that the computer spits out and the replies Neill feeds back to it, as though the computer and Neill have an undefined relationship. One of my quirks of this novel that I enjoyed, espicially when everything that Neill inputs begins to result in the computer asking HIM questions about his childhood. This not only dredges up questions, but also theories about Neill’s father and what may have caused him to commit suicide. Talk about things backfiring in a fantastical way!

Neill is also on the prowl for the right woman- since The One he married clearly wasn’t The One. After a series of one night stands, Neill has one with Rachel, and ends up falling(Isn’t that always the way?) hard. However, he’s still in the process of working through the end of his marriage, and the appearance of his wife at the worst possible moments(providing some comic relief throughout the book) just makes you question whether his unprocessed psychological grief over his father’s death and the end of his marriage is clouding not only his judgment, but messing up what could be a great opportunity for him with Rachel.

There are so many things I liked about this book. The character of Neill is not only realistic, but also unabashedly funny and unapologetic to the point of disbelief. He explains his shortcomings- the best example of this is in his discussions about one night stands with a lesbian couple at the beginning of the book-with a forthright air and basically comes out and explains he’ll damn the consequences. The other thing I enjoyed is that his attempts to get the panel of judges to believe that the computer in which his dad’s journal entries are being fed, is not a computer but a person- are even more real because he doesn’t have anywhere near the credentials you would need in the real world to pull off such a feat of technological wizardry-and yet he doesn’t seem to care! He keeps on trucking with it.. He’s not a quitter. I wanted to keep reading to see if he and Rachel could make it, despite his indecision over the end of his marriage. I wanted to keep reading to see if the computer would help him figure out what happened. I wanted to see him confront his grief in a real way and get on with his life after coming to terms with his father’s suicide. It was incredibly easy to read and enjoy this book, all the while laughing and shaking your head one minute, then feeling compassion for Neill the next minute. That’s the mark of a truly great book. I highly recommend this one. I can’t wait for his next.

 

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~ by generationgbooks on November 17, 2012.

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