The Last Equation of Isaac Severy | At a Glance
Author: Nova Jacobs
Publisher: Touchstone (March 6, 2018)
Genre: Mystery, Fiction, Thriller, Multiple POV
Goodreads Rating: 3.6 out of 5 Stars
A mystery for March!
I wasn’t feeling super adventurous when I picked out my March book, so I settled on one of my favorite genres, Mystery. The main synopsis for this book says that it is a “a novel in clues”, so I was expecting and easy read with some flashbacks to my Nancy Drew days complete with a villain complaining about some meddling kids. If i’m being quite honest, I had low expectations for this book and after sitting in my ‘To Read’ pile for a month or two, I finally decided to start the darn thing.
The novel starts with the ominous line of “On the morning he was to die, the old man woke early and set about making breakfast.” I don’t know about you, but breakfast and waking up early would be at the bottom of my to do list. If I knew I would be dying soon I’d start my day with a good cry and then move on to doing something i’m scared of, like jumping out of a plane or swimming with sharks, but I digress. The first character we meet is Issac Severy, an aging well known mathematician known for his work with Chaos theory. (If you don’t know what that is, look it up, that’s what Google is for, I’m not here to tutor you in math.) While the opening chapter is the only time we actually hear from Issac, the entire story revolves around his life and his work (ie he’s basically the main character even though he’s dead for 99.5% of the book).
The majority of the book takes places in the weeks following Issac Severy’s apparent suicide and follows his oldest son (Phillip Severy) and two of his grandchildren (Hazel and Gregory) in their attempt to coop with not only his death but also with the results of Issac’s work. While our narrators continuously switch between these three family members, it is to Hazel that Issac has left a job for and it was with Hazel that I made the most connection with. Whether because she’s a female character and I am also a women or because I can relate more to her ‘problems’ than the other two, I don’t know, but overall all three of these characters are just the most dramatic.
Hazel, is a struggling bookstore owner who has never really felt apart of the ‘genius’ title associated with her the family name Severy. Shortly after Issac’s death, she receives a letter, in which Isaac alludes to a secretive organization that seeks to steal his life’s work and most importantly his final equation. Hazel while unsure whether her grandfather was a little too paranoid, embarks on not only finding where the equation is hidden but also works to deliver it safely to a trusted colleague of Issac’s. In her search though, Hazel quickly realizes she’s not the only one searching, and that the equation’s implications have potentially disastrous consequences not only for the extended Severy family, who are a bunch of dysfunctional geniuses to say the least, but also for the world as well.
Gregory and Phillip also play a large part throughout the novel. While Gregory is basically Olivia Benson for the west coast, Phillip is a tenured professor of mathematics at Caltech. Even though both characters are strikingly different, we watch (or read) as they continue to struggle with their own demons. Demons that they have both worked hard to hide from the rest of their families.
This story is more than just a mystery though. It depicts not only the internal struggles families experience but also explores the impact death, whether accidental or planned, has upon these families and how individual reactions can differ so greatly. Past this, it is a gold mine of actual mathematical facts, without your middle school math teacher putting you to sleep, you WILL learn something (whether you remember you did or not, is not my problem).
My biggest compliant for this book however, is the shear number of Severy family members within the story. I couldn’t keep them straight and i’m pretty good with remembering characters. There were multiple times I had to stop reading and flip back to previous pages to place a name with a character. I would have really like to have read a bit more around each character, less for the sake of getting to know them, but more to help me remember the layout of the family tree and who’s who.
All in all, Nova Jacobs has written a fun mystery, while still touching on the more sad realities in life, that most of us prefer to avoid thinking about. She has filled this novel with clue after clue to pull us into the story while maintaining enough entertainment to outweigh the crippling despair we might succumb to if we focus to much on some of life’s biggest question. So what are you waiting for, find the book here and get to reading!
Sherlock Holmes and Nancy Drew team up with Dexter take you on an adventure of unexpected twists and turns that will leave you wanting more.
What is Book of the Month?
For those who haven’t heard of Book of the Month club or BOTM, it is a subscription program, similar to audible or other box subscription services, where you get (you guessed it) a new book every month. Each month members are given 5 different books to choose from. BOTM generally focusing on debut and emerging writers, and is known for having helped launch the careers of some of the most acclaimed authors in American literary history. In an attempt to read more books outside my favorite genres without having to siphon through all the duds, I decided to sign up for the monthly subscriptions. It costs me $14.99 per month, I choose 1 of the 5 books on the first of every month, and it’s delivered straight to my door. You can skip any month or roll your credits over to the next month, at any time. Since I started getting BOTM back in February, I’ve really enjoyed some of the new authors I’ve been exposed to. I’ve enjoyed them so much, that I have decided to review each of the books I get every month, so be on the look out for reviews March – August, which are coming soon. If you’re interested in joining BOTM, I’ve add my referral code to the bottom of this post, which if you use, you’ll be able to get your first month (book) free!
Interested in joining Book of the Month? Get a free book when you join using my referral link.