‘Maybe the impossible darkness that’s destroying my home is dark matter or it could be dark energy, but what does it matter if I discover what it is, if there’s nobody left in the universe to tell?’
Every once in a while you read a book that you really wish you had written yourself, (or perhaps that’s just me!) because it just is just so clever and leaves you thinking about it for days afterwards. This is one of those books.
Maisie is academically gifted at maths and science, having passed GCSE maths aged six, and following on with, physics, chemistry and biology aged seven. The story begins on the morning of her tenth birthday, when she is hoping for the things she needs to build a nuclear reactor and like any ordinary ten year old, immensely excited about the family birthday party she is having in her back garden later that day. But then, in an alternate storyline, Maisie wakes up, the house is empty and she is surrounded by blackness. Trapped in an ever-shifting reality, Maisie has to rely on the laws of the universe and the love of her family to save her, but will that be enough and will things ever return to ‘normal’?
Maisie is the narrator of her own story and the chapters unexpectedly alternate between the world as we know it and the alternative reality that she is trapped in. The interchangeable worlds make for a gripping read and as a result, I completely devoured this book in a couple of short sittings.
The book is filled with references to science, maths and art which make it intense yet riveting all at the same time and has left me ordering a copy of ‘A Brief History of Time’ by Stephen Hawking! It is thought provoking, intelligent and informative, yet is just as much about feelings, emotions and family life, as it is technical. Maisie is desperate for her big sister to like her and the dynamic between them is just like many ordinary sibling relationships. It is there relationship more than anything that carries the story forward and it is heartwarming and heartbreaking all at once.
The ending is both shocking and thrilling and I had to re-read the final few chapters over again. There are so many beautiful juxtapositions in this book which is what makes it so poignant and memorable.
My own daughter is six years old, her favourite subject at school is science, she’s particularly interested in The Big Bang Theory and black holes and I absolutely can’t wait to share this book with her when she is a little bit older.
If anyone else has read this, or is reading it, I’d love to know your thoughts and whether you loved it as much as I did! Which books have kept you thinking for days/weeks/years afterwards?