Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Oh the Complexity of Living

 First Paragraph:

"1992. The Shamen yelled "Eezer Goode, Eezer Goode". Alex listened; decided that MSc's 're good and started his postgrad in physics."

Cold Fusion 2000 by Karl Drinkwater begins with an interesting prologue.

The first chapter is made up of brief paragraphs describing the most important parts of our protagonist Alex's life, with the help of some suitable song titles worked into each sentence. We get a brief history of Alex between 1992 and 2000 (when this story takes place).

Alex is a 32 year old man living in Manchester, with a passion for sciences and poetry. He teaches physics and other sciences part-time at a local college, still lives at home and, like all of us, wonders what his life could've been like if he'd made different choices throughout it. Starting with the year he began his PhD in Physics. That year he fell head over heels with another student, only for her to break his heart, resulting in him dropping out of college and veering his life of track. 

Alex is a complicated man. Like every other person on the planet, he has his ups and downs. He can be optimistic or very pessimistic, and has a tendency to 'give up the fight' before it's even started. Still living with his mother, along with his kid sister Kelly and her friend Natalie, none of whom share his passion for science, can take its toll. That and the fact that he's quite neurotic, is a little OCD, is very introverted, slightly germaphobic, obsesses over routine, is possibly autistic and a bit of a cliche nerd and geek (yes they are two different things). Case and point- Star Trek is one of his favourite shows. 

He also gets frequent blackouts- lasting only a few seconds, but he can never remember anything about them, apart from a couple fragments at most. His neuroses all seem to stem from his painful split with his long-past girlfriend. 

When he breaks up with his current girlfriend, he considers changing. Something. Anything. But Alex is also a procrastinator and is afraid of change. Whenever he puts his mind to changing something, he always has a reason not to. 

He always wanted to get his papers published, and is constantly reading about his favourite things. The subject du jour- the RHIC (Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider) that is about to be turned on for the first time. During his research, he picks up on the same numbers time after time, and they act as a motif throughout the story. 

He thinks about the past a lot and mourns the one that got away, his first love. So when she turns up in Manchester, he can hardly believe it. 

To say anymore would be to spoil.

This is almost a coming-of-age story. A reminder that maturity is not all-encompasing, Some things take longer to grow. A look into how powerful a pull our past can have on us and how much it can affect us, but we all have the power to change that. The past does not hurt us because we try to move on, it hurts us because we do nothing. A simple change in attitude can completely alter our perceptions and the way we are perceived by others. 

A bittersweet, slightly confusing ending, that leaves a little hollowness, along with new, tentative hope. A small hint- the story is not always as black and white as first it seems. You really have to pay attention to the small clues in this book. Remember everything. One tiny, little detail can change how you perceive the entire story. The revelation that comes with understanding, only adds to the bitterness left at the end.

There's a few different interpretations of this story, that are each entirely down to the reader. You'll be wondering long after the pages (or in my case iPad) close. This is the perfect re-read. Like with the completely irrelevant murder mysteries genre, once you get to the end and have all the answers, it's fun to look back and see all the obvious clues you missed first time through. It is the ending that makes this book. A plot that seems so ordinary, and sometimes disjointed, becomes an epiphany, but only for the reader. That is what makes it so good. For the characters, the story is simplicity itself, but for those reading it, it is hours spent wondering. Thinking back, seeing clues that could point in so many different directions. An almost personalised book- each person will get something a little different from it. There can be confusing aspects, but overall, this is a simple plot about living. Moving on from your past and yourself.

In the end, the world is what we make of it. Not positive or negative. A neutral that waits for us to imprint on it. 

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author through a giveaway. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own.