What’s it all about?:
Ada Sibelius is raised by David, her brilliant, eccentric, socially inept single father, who directs a computer science lab in 1980s-era Boston. Home-schooled, Ada accompanies David to work every day; by twelve, she is a painfully shy prodigy. The lab begins to gain acclaim at the same time that David’s mysterious history comes into question. When his mind begins to falter, leaving Ada virtually an orphan, she is taken in by one of David’s colleagues. Soon she embarks on a mission to uncover her father’s secrets: a process that carries her from childhood to adulthood. What Ada discovers on her journey into a virtual universe will keep the reader riveted until The Unseen World’s heart-stopping, fascinating conclusion.
What did I think?:
The Unseen World has been one of my most anticipated reads in a long time. I have been so excited at the thought of reading it after seeing some amazing reviews out there and finally got round to it at the end of last year. You know when you just have a feeling that you’re going to love a particular book and it goes beyond even what you expected of it? This was the case with this mesmerising novel. Let me just tell you the synopsis does not do it justice. I got about thirty pages in and realised this story was something very special indeed. It’s about so much more than what “it says on the tin,” and I adored every single moment I spent reading it. It’s one of those books that’s automatically earned a place on my favourites shelf, I definitely plan on re-reading it in the future and I’ve already pushed it into the hands of a good friend and will continue to recommend it to others.
Our main female protagonist is Ada Sibelius who is twelve years old when the story first begins. Ada has a bit of an unusual family situation, although for her it is perfectly normal and all she has ever known. She has been raised by her father David, never known her mother and is home schooled often assisting her genius father in his laboratory where they are working on ELIXIR, the first Artificial Intelligence program. Like David, Ada is highly intelligent and proficient in coding, physics, technology and literature and counts her family as David’s lab colleagues who she can converse with like an adult about numerous subjects.
However, Ada is beginning to notice differences between herself and the average twelve year old girl in America and these differences become far more apparent when her father starts to lose his mental faculties and she is forced to live a whole other way. Before things get too awful, David left Ada a floppy disk that contains a code. If she deciphers what the code means she will finally discover secrets she could have never imagined about her father. As she struggles to unravel the puzzle she learns not only about her father’s mysterious past but who he really is as a person with clues for her own identity and this discovery is set to change her life forever.
I really hope I’ve made at least one person suitably intrigued about what this novel is about because it’s one of those books that just deserves to be read by anyone who loves literary fiction. I’m not into coding or computer based narratives at all but there’s something about The Unseen World that makes it so much more that just a geeky science narrative. Ada is a wonderful, memorable protagonist and her relationship with her father stole my heart from the very beginning. I loved that we also got to see much more of her life than you might do with any other novel i.e. we first meet her in the 1980’s as a twelve year old and throughout the novel the narrative shifts between this time period and the present time of the 2010’s when she is in her forties. It made me feel like I knew her much better as a character, watching her grow up and develop from a tentative teenager into a confident woman.
It’s a slow build up and a fantastic little mystery regarding David and who he really is and by the end of the novel I really felt like I had been on the most exhilarating journey that I just wanted to take all over again. I really cannot gush enough about how brilliant this book is and I’m actually running out of adjectives to describe how beautiful it is. If you love literary fiction and methodical character studies I’m pleading with you to trust me and please read this book!
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):