The Unseen World by Liz Moore
Categories: Literary Fiction, Mystery
First Publication Date: July 26th 2016
Synopsis: 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.
After my lukewarm reaction to Long Bright River, I did not expect to like this nearly as much as I ended up liking it. This has such great things going for it: it’s a slow-paced mystery which is far more character-driven than plot-driven, and manages to grip the reader’s attention by how interesting a character Ada is (and David, too). The mystery itself, while being the book’s main driving force, plays a secondary role for a big chunk of the story: you really get to see Ada, watch her grow, choose her own path in life and try to be her own self, apart from David, his lies and her unusual upbringing. I adore stories where tech/science play a big role, so it was to be expected that I’d love the computer science aspect of this novel: this feels like a love letter to coding and it made me think of the brief period in my life when I considered computer science as a career path. I also loved the puzzles (there is a coded message the reader can solve, somewhere in the first half of the novel). I loved this book, and this kind of story is what makes me love reading so much. I had so many feelings reading it and got very invested in the story, each character shining in their flawed ways. I ended up taking a star because around the middle of the novel the pacing felt a bit off and I was not too convinced by the plot twist, which we get lots of hints for since the first chapters. Still, these are rather minor complaints, I truly, truly enjoyed this novel. The Unseen World such a moving story and I was so immersed reading this that I forgot to take mental notes on what to write for a review; which is why this is mainly a collection of impressions hastily put together. If you love books about family secrets and slower, atmospheric stories, you might really like this.