Top positive review
Not the book you think it is.
on 17 October 2015
This is not the book you think it is when you start reading it. It's probably not the book you think it is a third or half of the way through it either.
Andrew is telling his life story to "Doc". I spent a fair amount of time wondering if Doc was a construct of Andrew's own brain, and how much of all this was really real. Perhaps the title had something to do with that - it conjured up images of brains in vats and thought experiments for me.
Anyway, Andrew is a cognitive scientist that has not had the best of luck. He probably has some kind of diagnosis (i.e. somewhere on the Autistic spectrum), which may have contributed to some of the bad luck, but none of it seems intentional on his part, even if he's contributed strongly to most of it. We hear about his ex wife, his new wife after that, his child(ren), and all the time we wonder why he is talking to "Doc". His life story seems almost incidental to whatever it is that is important here - and what that is we don't find out until towards the end.
I don't want to give things away, but suffice to say that the book takes a bit of a left turn as it nears the end, and turns our (or at least my) expectations on their head. It's neatly done though, and doesn't seem jarring - in fact it seems like a natural thing to have happened to Andrew, bearing in mind his life history and the sort of luck he's had.
The book is fairly short and an easy read. I suspect it's a bit of a marmite book - you'll either really enjoy it or really hate it. For my part I really liked it.