Book Review: The Rosie Effect

rosieFirst things first: The Rosie Effect is a sequel, continuing the story begun in The Rosie Project. And really, if you haven’t read the first book, there’s no point in reading this one.

The Rosie Effect picks up soon after the end of The Rosie Project, following Rosie and Don to Manhattan as they begin their lives as a married couple, with the complications you’d expect from this unusual pair. No sooner have they started settling into their lives — Don as a visiting professor at Columbia Medical School, Rosie finishing up her PhD thesis and entering med school — than a bombshell of a surprise comes along: Rosie is pregnant. And Don is thrown for a loop.

Rosie and Don take very different approaches to pregnancy, of course. Don, ever the man of science, embarks on a plan to maximize Rosie’s health — and Rosie does not take kindly to Don’s constant input on everything from appropriate pregnancy nutrition to stress levels to exercise needs. The marriage is on the rocks, and it doesn’t seem like there’s much hope.

Meanwhile, Don finds himself in exactly the sort of absurd situations you’d expect. Upon getting advice from a friend that he should spend some time observing children in order to prepare for fatherhood,  Don does exactly that… and ends up getting arrested after hanging out in a children’s playground taking videos of the kids playing.

Ultimately, the plot of The Rosie Effect boils down to a headline from a 1980s women’s magazine: Can this marriage be saved?

My reaction to this book is mixed. While there are certainly many amusing scenarios (let’s not forget the Bluefin Tuna Incident!), I’m not at all convinced that a sequel to The Rosie Project was necessary. In The Rosie Effect, it’s really just a lot of more of the same. Don is peculiar, highly intelligent, and emotionally stilted. He does some pretty amazing things, but always from a place of cluelessness. There’s a cast of supporting characters who are funny, unusual, and perfect complements to Don’s oddball nature. Rosie herself seems to be a bit absent in this book; while she’s always around and is on Don’s mind constantly, I wouldn’t have had much sense of her personality or desires without having read the first book.

Basically, everything that I found delightful and charming about the first book is repeated here in the second — and that’s the problem. The Rosie Project was new and different; The Rosie Effect is just a continuation. Without the newness, it’s treading familiar ground, and I simply wasn’t nearly as amused as I was the first time I encountered Don Tillman in all his glory.

The Rosie Effect is a quick read, but I actually think I could have done without it. It definitely picks up by the end, but there’s only so many time similar antics can play out before they become tedious. The Rosie Project was one of my favorite books of 2013, but in my opinion, should have been left as a stand-alone story. Sadly, this unnecessary sequel was mostly a disappointment to me. Still, the author is clearly quite talented, and I hope he’ll tell a new tale in whatever he publishes next.

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The details:

Title: The Rosie Effect
Author: Graeme Simsion
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: US publication date: December 30, 2014
Length: 352 pages
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Source: Review copy via NetGalley

 

Wishing & Waiting on Wednesday: The Rosie Effect

There’s nothing like a Wednesday for thinking about the books we want to read! My Wishing & Waiting on Wednesday post is linking up with two fabulous book memes, Wishlist Wednesday (hosted by Pen to Paper) and Waiting on Wednesday (hosted by Breaking the Spine).

My most wished-for book this week is:

The Rosie Effect (Don Tillman #2)

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion
(to be released December 30, 2014)

I’m not including a snip of the synopsis here… because this is the sequel to The Rosie Project, and I don’t want to give anything away from the first book. The Rosie Project was one of my very favorite books of 2013, so picking The Rosie Effect as a wishlist book is a total no-brainer for me. And let’s just say that if the sequel is anywhere near as charming as the original, then it’ll be a winner for sure!

Want to know more about The Rosie Project? You can check out my review here.

What are you wishing for this Wednesday?

Looking for some bookish fun on Thursdays? Come join me for my regular weekly feature, Thursday Quotables. You can find out more here — come play!

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Do you host a book blog meme? Do you participate in a meme that you really, really love? I’m building a Book Blog Meme Directory, and need your help! If you know of a great meme to include — or if you host one yourself — please drop me a note on my Contact page and I’ll be sure to add your info!

The Monday Agenda 11/18/2013

MondayAgendaNot a lofty, ambitious to-be-read list consisting of 100+ book titles. Just a simple plan for the upcoming week — what I’m reading now, what I plan to read next, and what I’m hoping to squeeze in among the nooks and crannies.

How did I do with last week’s agenda?
The Rosie Project12842134

Picture Me Gone

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. Finished at the end of last week, posted my review this week. This book just makes me happy. 🙂

Just One Year by Gayle Forman: Done! My review is here.

Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff: Done! I chose not to write a review for this book, as I found myself in the unusual (for me) position of just not really having anything to say. This book is well-written, and I’ve loved some of the previous books by this author, but Picture Me Gone simply didn’t work for me. The story was kind of flat, not much happened, and I didn’t find the characters’ actions and motivations terribly compelling.

Unthinkable by Nancy Werlin: Done! My review is here.

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen: Moving right along! My son and  I are really enjoying Hoot, and hope to wrap it up within the next two weeks.

And in book news… Outlander fans were saddened to learn that the March publication of book #8 in the series (Written In My Own Heart’s Blood) would be delayed… but all heaved a big sigh of relief when a new release date was announced a couple of days later. So who else is counting the days until June 10, 2014??

Fresh Catch:

Three new books this week:

The Lover's DictionarySinful FolkDamn' Rebel Bitches: The Women of the '45

The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan: Borrowed from the library. After reading so many of the author’s young adult novels, I’ve been wanting to check this out too — I’ve heard great things!

Sinful Folk by Ned Hayes: Just received a review copy, looking forward to reading and reviewing this one closer to its January publication date.

Damn Rebel Bitches by Maggie Craig: I treated myself to this history book focusing on the women of the Jacobite rising of 1745 — a gift for my inner Outlander fanatic!

What’s on my reading agenda for the coming week?

ShadowsThe Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic

First up, I’m really looking forward to reading Shadows by Robin McKinley.

Next, I’d like to start The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker. Guilty confession: I’ve had this ARC sitting on my Kindle for a long time now… but I haven’t forgotten about it!

I think these two will take up the whole week, but if there’s time, I’ll dig into The Lover’s Dictionary as well.

So many book, so little time…

That’s my agenda. What’s yours? Add your comments to share your bookish agenda for the week.

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Thursday Quotables: The Rosie Project

quotation-marks4

Welcome back to Thursday Quotables! This weekly feature is the place to highlight a great quote, line, or passage discovered during your reading each week.  Whether it’s something funny, startling, gut-wrenching, or just really beautifully written, Thursday Quotables is where my favorite lines of the week will be, and you’re invited to join in!

Gene and Claudia tried for a while to assist me with the Wife Problem. Unfortunately, their approach was based on the traditional dating paradigm, which I had previously abandoned on the basis that the probability of success did not justify the effort and negative experience. I am thirty-nine years old, tall, fit, and intelligent, with a relatively high status and above-average income as an associate professor. Logically, I should be attractive to a wide range of women. In the animal kingdom, I would succeed in reproducing.

The Rosie Project

Source: The Rosie Project
Author: Graeme Simsion
Simon & Schuster, 2013

If you want to know more about The Rosie Project, you can read my review here.

What lines made you laugh, cry, or gasp this week? Do tell!

If you’d like to participate, it’s really simple:

  • Write a Thursday Quotables post on your blog. Try to pick something from whatever you’re reading now. And please be sure to include a link back to Bookshelf Fantasies in your post (http://www.bookshelffantasies.com), if you’d be so kind!
  • Click below (next to the cute froggy face) to link up your post! And be sure to visit other linked blogs to view their Thursday Quotables too.
  • Have a quote to share but not a blog post? Leave your quote in the comments.
  • Have fun!

Book Review: The Rosie Project

Book Review: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie ProjectThis charming, funny novel was exactly what I needed after a couple of weeks filled with horror, wartime secrets, and violent crime. And you should hear about the books I’ve read! (Kidding, kidding…)

The Rosie Project is a first novel by Australian writer Graeme Simsion, which he originally wrote as a screenplay and then adapted into a novel. And now apparently a movie is expected as well! I can absolutely see this sweet, romantic story working fabulously on the big screen.

The Rosie Project is narrated in the first person by Don Tillman, a professor of genetics who is more than a bit lacking in the social graces department. As it quickly becomes clear, Don most likely falls somewhere on the autism spectrum, although a possible diagnosis has never occurred to him, despite being an incredibly intelligent scientist whose best (and only) friends are psychologists and despite being a guest lecturer on the subject of Asperger’s syndrome. Don’s days are dictated by his schedule, with every moment accounted for and planned for maximum efficiency. He has a seven-day food schedule (Tuesdays are for lobster), so he never has to waste precious brain resources deciding what to eat. His life is fixed and defined — but he’s 39 years old and feeling the need for a life partner.

To solve his problem, Don devises The Wife Project, a 16-page questionnaire scientifically designed to select only the most compatible women for Don to meet and potentially marry. But when Rosie wanders into his office, she throws Don’s careful plans into a tizzy. She’s clearly unsuitable mate material — but why does he enjoy her company quite so much?

The writing zips along quickly, as we hear — from Don’s perspective — all about his adventures in dating and his everyday challenges in dealing with other humans. The Jacket Incident is but one example, featuring a fancy restaurant, an ambiguously worded dress code, and Don’s aikido skills. And then there’s his approach to a medical student who touts “creation theory” as a viable alternative to “evolution theory”. Let’s just say there’s a dead fish involved and leave it at that.

Don has an eidectic memory, which he uses to his advantage not just in academics, but also in a delightful scene in which he becomes a cocktail expert. He also successfully memorizes an entire manual full of sex positions, but doesn’t quite get why it’s not so appealing to the ladies to show them a book and basically instruct them to pick a page. (Note: he strikes out.)

Quirky and funny, the dialogue really enhances the narration:

“If I find a partner, which seems increasingly unlikely, I wouldn’t want a sexual relationship with anyone else. But I’m not good at understanding what other people want.”

“Tell me something I don’t know,” said Rosie, for no obvious reason.

I quickly searched my mind for an interesting fact. “Ah… the testicles of drone bees and wasp spiders explode during sex.”

All in all, I found The Rosie Project sweet, funny, and romantic, if a tad implausible in parts. I had a hard time believing that Don would be capable of making some of the substantial changes in his own behavior that he enacts by the end, especially considering how quickly he brings about these changes. Still, this book works because it’s a rom-com at heart, and what’s a rom-com without a happy ending? It’s quite clear all along that the boy will get the girl; the fun part is in seeing how it all works out.

A final thought: As someone who binge-watched five seasons of The Big Bang Theory last year, I couldn’t help but hear Sheldon Cooper as the voice of Don Tillman. To me, Don IS Sheldon, although perhaps a bit more flexible and only a drop less socially awkward. If this wasn’t the portrayal that the author was going for, well, what can I say? I think the comparisons are unavoidable. It didn’t detract from my enjoyment a bit, but it certainly made the character instantly identifiable to me and maybe even a little predictable at times.

That said, I do recommend The Rosie Project most enthusiastically. It’s ultimately a happy book, and I had a great time reading it. The characters are warm and interesting and full of life, the scenario is creative and entertaining, and the book is not without emotional weight and depth. If you’re looking for a fun, engaging read that just may move you as well, check out The Rosie Project.

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The details:

Title: The Rosie Project
Author: Graeme Simsion
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 2013
Genre: Adult fiction
Source: Library