A compelling and haunting début. Compelling despite the headlines, despite the fact that it is 'faction', written by a young, talented and attractive female physicist, dealing in numbers and maths and things us normals can't grasp, and despite the expectation that it couldn't be as good as its title. It is compelling because Janna Levin is a very good writer. Despite their extreme contrasts, neither Turing nor Gödel descend into caricature or hyperbolic farce. They cut haunting figures not because they are great logicians but because their frailties seem so palpable, even minor, in the context of their times and thought. The book's occasional weakness is a certain upbeat insistence on the metaphysics of the math - of worlds turned upside down by abstract thought and revelations that shake the foundations of science. It is not so much that this doesn't work (it does) or that it unmasks Levin as a dry mathematician playing at literature (she displays a quite stunning turn of phrase, decent pacing and an accomplished eye for the human). On the contrary, the weakness is a tendency to oversimplify and infantilise the intellectual dimensions of Turing and Gödel, to render what they struggled with simple enough for us to understand quickly, and hence not worth the angst. Moments smack of worthiness, of 'A Madman Dreams...' as a gateway drug to Principa Mathematica or late Wittgenstein. The result is that, if anything, the logical and mathematical dimensions are undersold. A little bolder, a little more comfortable with the reader having to wrestle with the concepts, a little less self-conscious, and this would have been not only compelling but stunning.