The Unknowns by Gabriel Roth (5 out of 5)
Okay, let me start this review by saying that if you like Nick Hornby, Jonathan Tropper, or Adam Davies (and if you don’t know that last author- check him out!), this is the newest entry into that type of author/genre. Gabriel Roth is an American journalist and web developer. You see a lot of the web developer in the book in the main character. You sense none of the journalist, as there is no breakneck pace. It’s a slim book, incredibly easy to read and appreciate. His use of language is stellar. The quotes at the start of every chapter- whether it’s a quote from X-Men, Wolverine, or web development and web programming manuals (I am not joking), you will enjoy it. The quotes do end up fitting the chapters, so at least you have a slight foreshadowing of what’s coming. Except you really don’t. And that’s why it’s magnificent.
And I wish it were longer. I also hope Mr. Roth writes his next book super fast. If this is any indication, he is an up and coming author. And I will recommend the fudge out of this little novella a’la heartbreak amongst the algorithms.
Eric Muller is a Silicon Valley millionaire gaming wizard; he went a whole lot of nowhere in school and in adulthood, is still socially awkward and shy. His greatest times of solace are in spending time with his fellow programmers writing computer code. Process that (no pun intended) for a moment. Computer code over going out and meeting someone. We’ve all been there, in some regard. He meets Maya, a journalist, at a party where he ends up picking up a different girl, going home with her, doing Ecstasy, and then confessing to that girl amid nakedness that when he comes, he thinks of his MOM. Process that. Despite this ‘distraction’, Eric cannot get Maya out of his mind. He’s convinced she is the soul mate. Maya’s secrets from her troubled youth, however, may sink the relationship before it gets a true chance. Or will Eric and his social awkwardness not truly transcending into a realness with Maya kill it? Eric’s inability to deal with reality and the situations that life brings to his table may sink it; or Maya’s inability to deal with a horrifying thing that happened (or did it?) to her may sink it. Half of the reason you keep reading is to see if either one ends up capsizing the boat; or if human nature takes its course and it ends in a sad manner.
So many ways to go with this review- ultimately, it’s the story of trust vs. data. Maya can’t trust anyone; Eric can’t process real situations unless he has data to prove or disprove his theory. He’s like a geometry teacher without a theorem. Maya and Eric face great struggles in finding their way around their feelings toward each other. It is interesting to see how this plays out. There is an underlying touch of sadness, but there has to be- or this book would not be realistic. Eric would be proud.
Not much to say about the supporting characters, because they honestly aren’t in there very long, it’s all about Eric and Maya. Again, no complaints. That’s what the book is about. It’s nice to have read this book and the author doesn’t once stray from the premise of the book. I haven’t been able to review a lot of books like that as of late. Eric is such a nerdy, but such a wordy nerd. His euphemisms for many situations had me laughing my ass off. Maya is witty too, in her own way, but nowhere near as funny as Eric was with his observations throughout the book.
Overall, incredibly well written. Great characters, great love story (kind of), and although I believe the ending will piss off those who had a certain vision of the end in their head, I think Roth ended it the way it should have. There may be a quick wrap up, but I think the arc of the storyline had run its course, and like any intelligent author, he ended it, rather than carrying on and making it longer than it needed to be. Again, however, I LOVE this book and I hope you will give it a shot.