Starving Review: The Einstein Pool (The iGod Book 1) by Jake Danger

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The Einstein Pool (The iGod Book 1) by Jake Danger (Amazon)

As continual readers of this blog know, a starving author/reviewer like me will eat any meal put before his table.  A man has got to eat, right?  Sometimes big meals, sometimes small meals, sometimes good meals, sometimes bad.  Every once in a while, though, I eat a meal that is a bit confusing, that dances between the lines of good and bad, big and small, and leaves me a bit puzzled.

The Einstein Pool is such a meal.

However, before we tuck into our plates and figure this out, let’s do the usual ‘ground rules’ thing:

  1. I attempt to rate every book from the perspective of a fan of the genre.
  2. I attempt to make every review as spoiler-free as possible.

The Einstein Pool in terms of length is short.  Though I don’t have a word count, it is maybe less than 100 pages and squarely in the novella category.  However, it blithely delves into a lot of deep concepts and big theory about science, the divine, and the interactions there of, giving it a certain mental heft that outweighs the short page count.  Here, the flavors of the book really zing in my mouth and I found myself biting into those sections with gusto, even if I had to stop for a few moments to digest certain concepts.  In fact, some of them were familiar spices similar to some I had used in Indomitable and the rest of The Push Chronicles.

So you can see where I found some very good flavors in this mix.  What hit me as bad and somewhat confusing were a pair of characters near the end of the book that honestly sounded a bit too similar to a Chick Tract.  While I wanted to tune out those horrible flavors as simply being the opinions of some fictional characters, they resonated a bit through the protagonist’s actions.  Likewise, the events of the book seemed to back up everything those characters said as being fact and completely prophetic, lending a weird credence to their words that tasted foul on my tongue.

As far as the actual writing style and pacing, overall Mr. Danger presents a breezy and quick pace.  The main character is well-characterized but I feel there is a paucity of dialogue in spots.  While this can be understandable as the book is written in the style of a first-person journal, it leaves some of the supporting characters feeling a bit thin.  Though set in the near-future, there is almost nothing unfamiliar presented and the few bits of near-future technology won’t require any deep explanation and Mr. Danger pays the right amount of time and attention to detail for that and to flesh out the foreign land where most of the book takes place.  My copy had a few minor formatting errors, but nothing that made it unreadable in any sense.

So how do all of these at-times contradictory ingredients mix-up and come out in the final consumption?  The Einstein Pool must succeed in the end, simply because I read it in one continual sitting, with no desire to turn away save for the small sections noted above (the Chick Tract part, as it is engrained in my head).  The main story, though, is filled with fascinating questions for the main character to discover and with a nice cliffhanger ending.  I’m a sucker for cliffhangers.  Still, it’s not perfect.  Many of the minor characters could deserve far more fleshing out to make them compelling, especially the main love interest and the current antagonist and that detracts from the total taste of the book.  At the end though, if you’re interested in a sci-fi near-future yarn with a healthy dose of religion and philosophy mixed in, you won’t go wrong with giving this novella a spin.

FINAL VERDICT: **** (Light but heavy, with a lot of pleasing, thoughtful flavors and a few parts that turned my tongue)

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5 comments

  1. I noticed a couple of interesting things about this review.

    “While I wanted to tune out those horrible flavors as simply being the opinions of some fictional characters, they resonated a bit through the protagonist’s actions.”

    The personality and motives of characters (especially protagonists) are illustrated by the action and dialogue, but in a psychological novel we also get more of the deep stuff that puts personality and motivation there to begin with. Such intimations can feel threatening.

    “Likewise, the events of the book seemed to back up everything those characters said as being fact and completely prophetic, lending a weird credence to their words that tasted foul on my tongue.”

    I haven’t read this book, and I’d never heard of a Chick Tract, but after looking it up, I can imagine that Jake Danger may find such beliefs to be an interesting manifestation of how some people cope: how they make sense of the world and psychologically integrate the events that affect them. When someone believes something unusual, it can feel intimidating.

    The words “horrible” and “foul” indicate a deep, strong, visceral reaction. Could this be a measure of not just successful writing, but effective writing?

    1. It’s certainly possible, which is why the end result stayed on the high side of positive. The docking of a star mainly came down to the thin characterization of anyone not the main character.

      1. As a clinician, the psychology of reading and writing fascinate me. Registered Nurses have to be able to handle all manner of unpleasant things, and when I was in practice, I didn’t have any trouble with the grim realities of healthcare. But I’ve never been able to stomach reading Stephen King – although, oddly enough, the text analyzer at http://iwl.me says that the first four chapters of my first novel are written in King’s style (equally shared with that of James Joyce, whom I never had the patience to read).

        1. It says I write like Dan Brown. Interesting, never actually read any of his stuff.

          I think your analysis of literary pieces is fascinating and I always appreciate your insights!

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