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Title: When the World Was Flat (and we were in love)
Author: Ingrid Jonach
Year Published: 2013
Synopsis: Looking back, I wonder if I had an inkling that my life was about to go from ordinary to extraordinary.
When sixteen-year-old Lillie Hart meets the gorgeous and mysterious Tom Windsor-Smith for the first time, it's like fireworks - for her, anyway. Tom looks as if he would be more interested in watching paint dry; as if he is bored by her and by her small Nebraskan town in general.
But as Lillie begins to break down the walls of his seemingly impenetrable exterior, she starts to suspect that he holds the answers to her reoccurring nightmares and to the impossible memories which keep bubbling to the surface of her mind - memories of the two of them, together and in love.
When she at last learns the truth about their connection, Lillie discovers that Tom has been hiding an earth-shattering secret; a secret that is bigger - and much more terrifying and beautiful - than the both of them. She also discovers that once you finally understand that the world is round, there is no way to make it flat again.
An epic and deeply original sci-fi romance, taking inspiration from Albert Einstein's theories and the world-bending wonder of true love itself.
Review: When I first started reading this book, it seemed like any other contemporary YA romance book out there. Girl is an outcast, has a couple of friends, doesn't get along with the popular girl. Then, she meets the new boy and he changes everything. But that's where the textbook romance ends and the beautiful, imaginative, original sci-fi story takes over. It turns into something unlike anything I've ever read, and had me on the edge of my seat. Yes, the romance is important, but there is so much more to this book than that.
The first half of this book is a really nice little story with a lot of set up that you don't realize is important until later. I thought it was a little slow at times, and it took me a little bit to actually get into it, but once I got to the second half, I really appreciated it. The way this novel is set up is absolutely genius, and huge props to Jonach for that. To go from something so ordinary and common into heavy science fiction that actually requires thought does not seem like an easy thing to do, but Jonach does it so gracefully that it seems natural and plausible. Some of the science and physics might be a little stretched for the sake of the story, but it honestly didn't bother me. I'm not reading this book for a science lesson.
Even though I am not at all a physicist, especially not a theoretical physicist, I think Einstein's theories are very interesting and it was really neat to see them employed in this book. Science and love collide to tell a unique story that will stick with you for a while. I really enjoyed how certain things are explained - Lillie's recurring dreams, her memories that aren't hers, the seemingly unexplainable attraction between Tom and her, why her friends are suddenly acting so different, etc - and even though it often seems like a stretch, I thought it was very thoughtful and creative. And speaking of the attraction between Lillie and Tom, the romance reminded me of a roller coaster; it starts slow, picks up speed and barrels downhill, and hits some corkscrews and turns, and is such a thrill ride.
Lillie isn't always the most likable girl ever, but I'm pretty sure anyone who dreams of her own death every night wouldn't be very pleasant. Sometimes I feel like she's a little too harsh when she talks to and about Sylv, but you can tell she genuinely cares for her and Jo. She's always worrying about Jo and her father, and checking in with her (or trying to) whenever there's something going on. She never wants Sylv to get into trouble, and stands up for her and protects her when she can. Once things start to fall into place she definitely gets better, and I found myself really sympathizing with her. Tom isn't really a pleasant guy either until we find out what his deal is. And then, once you think everything is good and happy, we get thrown more twists and it makes everything that much more complicated. And I kind of loved every minute of it.
I don't want to spoil any of this book for anyone, because I think it's better if you read it and find things out on your own. I would definitely recommend this for anyone who enjoys hard science fiction, or for someone who is looking for a science fiction romance novel with seriously flawed characters who you can't help but fall in love with. I honestly don't know what to compare this too, because it is so original and hauntingly beautiful and so many other things. Oh, and the metaphor with the title and the world being flat... it's fantastic. There really is no going back once you learn that the world is round. A 5/5!