Today’s book review is about a book I found rather… odd. Read on to find out what I thought of The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood.
The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood
Publication Date: 05 May 2016
Publication Date: Pan Macmillan
This is what it means to love someone. This is what it means to grieve someone. It’s a little bit like a black hole. It’s a little bit like infinity.
Gottie H. Oppenheimer is losing time. Literally. When the fabric of the universe around her seaside town begins to fray, she’s hurtled through wormholes to her past:
To last summer, when her grandfather Grey died. To the afternoon she fell in love with Jason, who wouldn’t even hold her hand at the funeral. To the day her best friend Thomas moved away and left her behind with a scar on her hand and a black hole in her memory.
Although Grey is still gone, Jason and Thomas are back, and Gottie’s past, present, and future are about to collide—and someone’s heart is about to be broken.
When I first heard about The Square Root of Summer, I was intrigued. A young girl travelling through time? How exciting! I was delighted when I was offered the opportunity to read it a few weeks before official publication, and I couldn’t wait to get stuck into it. It’s fair to say I had high expectations for this novel.
The story follows Gottie (real name Margot), a young girl struggling to cope with the grief for her recently deceased grandfather. If that wasn’t enough to deal with, she also has to deal with being ignored by her last summer romance. Over the course of the summer she happens to come across wormholes that allow her to travel in time to relieve certain events. As you do. Throw in a crazy, wannabe-rockstar brother, the reappearance of her childhood best friends and a lorra lorra physics equations and you have the premise behind The Square Root of Summer.
I’ll be brutally honest; I didn’t particularly enjoy this book. If you follow me on GoodReads you will see that I struggled my way through the novel right from the beginning, and it was only my sheer stubbornness that helped me to finish it. I just didn’t get it. I understand the idea behind TSROS but I don’t think it was executed that well.
The style of narration reminded me of This Raging Light in that it was dreamy, confusing, not entirely linear and stuffed with metaphors that didn’t make sense. The time travel aspect of the novel was so confusing. The physics references brought back painful memories of A-Level Physics and they were just too many. Even when Gottie explained the theories and equations in a way that her friend Thomas could understand, I still didn’t get it. Thomas may understand, but I certainly don’t. As the time travel plot makes up the majority of the novel, I genuinely struggled to understand what was going on, or what was happening. Not exactly what you want in a book.
Turning to the characters now… I didn’t particularly connect with Gottie. Whilst she wasn’t unlikeable, there just wasn’t anything to “like” about her. I do appreciate that Gottie was so passionate about science, and I can only hope this encourages more young girls to pursue STEM subjects. However, when it came to the other characters, I couldn’t find any traits to like. I most certainly did not like her brother Ned, her wet friend Thomas, her best friend that wasn’t a friend, Sof, nor her love interest Jason. Speaking of Jason, I became very bored very quickly of the constant “we had sex” mentions whenever he was appeared. You’ve already told us dear, you don’t have to tell us again. Overall, it felt like all the characters had all been massively over-exaggerated, thus making them unlikeable and hard to connect to.
I am so disappointed that The Square Root of Summer wasn’t what I had hoped it to be. I honestly thought I was going to love this book. I am aware that this review is shorter than my usual standard, but I’m not sure what else I can say about it really… *shrugs*. I could have overlooked the characters if the plot had been stronger, but I couldn’t follow it at all, and I felt frustrated than anything else. I awarded it 2/5 stars on GoodReads; an ambitious novel that fell flat. What a shame.
Have you ever been left puzzled by a book?