Evidence of Things Not Seen
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, YA
Publication date: September 16th 2014
by Farrar Straus and Giroux (BYR)
When high school junior Tommy Smythe goes missing, everyone has a theory about what happened to him. Tommy was adopted, so maybe he ran away to find his birth parents. He was an odd kid, often deeply involved in his own thoughts about particle physics, so maybe he just got distracted and wandered off. He was last seen at a pull-out off the highway, so maybe someone drove up and snatched him. Or maybe he slipped into a parallel universe. Tommy believes that everything is possible, and that until something can be proven false, it is possibly true. So as long as Tommy’s whereabouts are undetermined, he could literally be anywhere.
Told in a series of first-person narratives from people who knew Tommy and third-person chapters about people who find the things Tommy left behind—his red motorbike, his driving goggles, pages from his notebook—Particles explores themes of loneliness, connectedness, and the role we play in creating our own realities.
-A copy was provided by Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for review-
What in the world…
This was really just a bunch of novellas about people either getting raped, beaten, or dying. POVs lasting for one chapter to never be visited again. It was weeeeird. Most stories/characters were not even related at all to the main storyline. Seriously! I don’t get it!
Let’s start at the beginning. A guy disappears, while learning a bit more about him we find out that he was convinced he could get to alternate dimensions, and we’re led to believe that that’s where he disappeared to. Everyone who knew him believes that as well, even the police question people about that as if they would actually be considering it. Okay, whatever. I can dig a sci-fi vibe in an otherwise contemporary novel. I loved Between the Lives recently, after all. The problem is that, this is all pointless in the grand scheme! There’s a disappearance, and while that’s the story that ties the book together – or it tries – it gets no progression or resolution AT ALL. Instead, we get thrown into mini stories lasting one chapter each of characters who are sometimes not even related to the disappearance whatsoever. For instance, one POV’s only tie-in is due to a note she finds before she murders a guy, that Tommy must have dropped. The note is insignificant in every way, and not even interesting. It’s just about how he gave his bike a name. Oookay. Another POV is about a girl who gets her sister’s baby dropped on her lap so she can take off with some dirtbag she likes for some reason (but who knows? We’ve known her for 4 pages). Later, in another POV (there’s like a trillion), we hear about this same girl being taken in by some other character. The end. It’s all so irrelevant. It really is like novellas surrounding this one disappearance, related to each other by tiny, tiny threads.
And then there’s the science blah blah. I enjoy through-provoking science chatter as much as the next, but this one was waaay confusing quantum physics mumbo jumbo. Also, surprisingly, quite dull – probably because it all had no point. It was just a way to bring up a science vs god debate which I have no patience for, frankly.
There were some things I liked. It’s easily readable, and written mostly in dialogue of people being interviewed by the detectives, but we don’t see the police’s narration, only the characters’ responses which I found kind of neat. I also found a few of the individual stories quite interesting – too bad those only lasted for one chapter – touching on topics from rape to abusive parents and alcoholism, to name a few. If a lot of these mini stories were turned into full novels I would buy these books! But mushed together into one novel is just random. Suffice it to say, the good didn’t come close to making up for the rest of it.
In short: It’s like this book just barfed a bunch of randomness and called it a day.