My rating: 3 of 5 stars
If you’re a fan of Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory, you’re going to be a fan of Don Tillman, who is actually a bit more lovable in my opinion (yes, i said that). I’ve never read a book quite like this. Written from the point of view (a very strict, logical, efficient POV) of a man with Asperger’s, the story was fast paced, quirky, and fun to read. I find that I usually have to give a book the 100 pg rule before moving on, but this book had me almost from the start.
The writing style is very quick and to the point, which goes along with the type of mind that Don Tillman, our narrator has. You go from scene to scene in this very short, abrupt way. One minute he collects a sample of DNA in the bathroom of a stranger’s home, and then in the next you’re back at the lab with the result. It was a little jarring, and it took me a few pages to get used to his flow, but I was on board since this made sense for the character’s train of thought. But, if this had been the style of choice in any other book, I would have immediately bashed it for being flat and condemned it as shit. Luckily, Simsion and his editor used Don’s train of thought in a very effective and comedic way. This is a book of telling not showing, which is the opposite of what every creative writer learns to do, but Simsion made it work.
That being said I did have some issues with the plot. I felt like although I enjoyed Don’s thought process, and I felt like I was learning so much about people who don’t have the “behavioral skills” to adapt to “normal” society, I was still feeling a little ripped off at times. Don get’s rejected so man times in the book. And of course, the protagonist needs to go through obstacles, but how did he magically fix each obstacle so quickly??? Example: SPOILER AHEAD, In the last few chapters, Don is told by Rosie that he is incapable of love. And he even creates a lengthy list of reasons why he can’t be with her. Then it’s the next page/new chapter, and Don wakes up, suddenly with a new list of reasons why he actually is in love with Rosie. It was happening too fast, and the payoff didn’t feel right. Rosie loves him, great. He can love her too. Great. <–That’s it, the end. This is how the plot felt, being rushed to an end. Perhaps I can blame this on the fact that Simsion dragged the “will-they-won’t-they” trope throughout the entire second half of the book. You knew they cared about each other, and Don would always get really close to a happy ending, but then they had to throw random obstacles in his way to derail that for another two pages. And that was my only problem with the style of writing. If the story had breathed for little longer in some areas, it wouldn’t have felt so jerk-necked. Despite this drawback, there were some gem moments in the story.
My favorite part would have to be the scene where Don asks Rosie’s date at the ball if he’s her boyfriend. Don, of course, has a very logical reason why he’s asking, and I’m sure he doesn’t even see the jaws drop. But I could see this wonderful moment playing out in my mind, and it’s awkwardly glorious. The beauty of this book is Don’s inner dialogue with himself. He doesn’t even realize what he’s asking is very personal. AND he can’t even tell that he’s jealous! It’s all so innocently raw, and hilarious, and perfect. If they do make this into a film, I hope whatever actor gets cast can capture Don’s full range of emotional ineptitude. He isn’t a Sheldon Cooper. To me he’s a bit more. I don’t know. There’s just something there (that wasn’t there before *cue Beauty and the Beast Soundtrack).
I guess it’s pretty obvious that I loved Don. He was fascinating. Incredible (his favorite word). Rosie as a character was a nice contrast. She wasn’t anything extraordinary, but I believed in her voice. The only thing I didn’t like about Rosie was her daddy issues with Phil. Their lack of relationship based on the fact that Phil never took her to Disneyland when she was a kid…really? Get over it.
All in all, I give this a three. Not one I’d read over and over, but something I’m glad I read. It was a page turner, and I had fun.