I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Supersymmetry by David Walton
Published by Pyr Books on September 1 2015
Genres: Adult, Science fiction
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The nitty-gritty: A high-octane, high-tech romp through time and space, with lots of family drama and complex characters to root for. Simply put, Supersymmetry was Superfun!
Well, I did it again. I read the second book in a series FIRST. But in defense of my decision to do so, I was told that Supersymmetry would be easy to jump into, and it was. Walton really knows how draw readers immediately into his story, and I didn’t really need to know what happened in the first book in order have a great time. However, I will say that eventually, the characters begin to talk about events in the past, and I admit I would have liked to have experienced them first hand. But after finishing this book, you can bet I’m going to go back and read Superposition. Walton fills in the blanks enough to catch up readers like myself, but he doesn’t go overboard. Fair warning: the following review contains spoilers from Superposition, so if you’re a series purist who cringes at the thought of reading things out of order, you may want to come back and read this review later.
Alex and Sandra Kelley are still living as separate people—and claiming they are identical twins—fifteen years after Alessandra was split in two during the events of Superposition. Sandra is cop, and Alex is a physicist, working for a company that is developing a top-secret quantum weapon for military use. During a demo of the technology to a select group of government higher-ups, things go inexplicably and terribly wrong, and Alex accidentally shoots and kills the Secretary of Defense while demonstrating a device called a Higgs projector. Alex finds herself on the run and trying to avoid being arrested for murder, but she knows she’s innocent, since she was trying to kill a creature called a varcolac, a quantum monster who has been released into this world by an experiment gone awry. Now Alex and Sandra must team up to stop the varcolac from destroying the world. But in the process, can they keep their individual identities, or will quantum physics decide to reunite them into one person?
At first, I was a little worried at the amount of scientific detail that Walton goes into in Supersymmetry, having a decidedly non-mathematical/scientific brain, but to be honest, I loved every word. Yes, he describes things like the scientific reasoning behind time travel and parallel worlds, but it was so interesting. Best of all, one of the smartest characters in the book is physicist Alex, and I loved how easy it was for her to keep pace with the brilliant but deranged Ryan Oronzi, who slowly allows the varcolac to take over his mind and threaten all of humanity. Did I understand everything that was going on in the story? No, but it didn’t really matter. Walton paces his story so well, and the technical and scientific details become an essential part of the language, that it all made the reading experience satisfying and yes, fun!
I loved how Supersymmetry is set just far enough in the future that small things are different from the world today. For example, the United States, along with many other nations, is on the brink of going to war with Turkey. There is also a cool device called an “eyejack,” a contact lens that gives the wearer direct access to computer screens, right in his or her field of vision. I imagine that the first book takes place in the present day, and now, fifteen years after those events, the world has advanced technically just enough to make the reader feel as if the technology could be possible, if it isn’t already. I mean, surely this stuff is going on as we speak in some secret government bunker, right?
Walton’s characters are complex, and even the “bad guys” are portrayed in shades of gray, so it’s hard not to feel some sympathy for them. Ryan Oronzi, the physicist responsible for releasing the varcolac, doesn’t do so intentionally. In fact, he does everything in his power to keep the creature from breaking though into our dimension, but it turns out it’s smarter than he is, and there’s really nothing he can do about it.
My favorite characters were Alex and Sandra, who used to be one person but now they are two distinct individuals with different passions and personalities. I loved how Walton makes them both vulnerable, each one thinking the other is the real Alessandra. I felt particularly sympathetic towards Sandra, because she thinks their father loves Alex more, since she followed in his footsteps and became a physicist. There’s a lot of soul-searching and tension going on between the two of them, as they discuss and come to terms with what will happen to them as individuals when they eventually “resolve” into one person again.
Supersymmetry has so many twists and turns, I was on the edge of my seat nearly from the first page. The story starts out crazy and just gets crazier as it goes along. Once the varcolac is loose and wreaking havoc, Walton brings teleportation and time travel into the mix, both of which he explains in very convincing scientific terms. I loved how Alex and her co-workers learn to teleport from one place to another with the blink of an eye—literally, they simply blink their eyes! Oddly, I felt the only weakness in the story was the varcolac, a quantum creature who can destroy and kill simply by thinking and making it so. But as scary as the varcolac seems, it doesn’t have a physical form of its own and must take over humans in order to affect things in this reality. I found that not being able to imagine what it looked like made it less real to me, and ultimately, less scary.
An over-the-top ending, and I mean over-the-top, was tons of fun, if not completely believable. Walton definitely pulls out all the stops for this one, and you’ll be turning pages as fast as you can to see what happens to the gang. Now I’m itching to go back and see how it all starts in Superposition, and even though reading this book first worked really well, I think I’d recommend reading the books in order to Walton newbies. Fast paced, with cool futuristic science and complex characters and relationships, this is must-read series for science fiction fans.
Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy.