Technology is never a good reason for murder, but Matthew Pearl gives one character a compelling, if not crazy reason, for comitting crimes against humanity in the name of technology in his recent book The Technologists. I recently had the benefit of reading an advanced copy of The Technologists by Matthew Pearl. Though it was the first book I’ve read of Pearl’s, I had been really excited to read it. This was partly because it was an advance copy, and partly because, well it was free, and I get giddy over free stuff, because I’m almost always broke. And let’s face it, who doesn’t get excited about free stuff, because aren’t we all broke?
The Technologists was one of the free books I got from goodreads.com. It was actually really cool, because it was an advance copy, the cover wasn’t even the actual design, and I received a large notice notifying me I could not actually post a review until after the release date. Not to worry, Random House, I’m such a procrastinator, I didn’t read the book until January, and I am just now writing a review for it. Sorry, that’s just how much I suck. I do promise to do much better in the future.
But it wasn’t just the cover that I really loved about this book, it was the author as well. I mean, I’m just going to say this as matter of factly as possible: Matthew Pearl knows how to grab a reader. As a writer, (and I can hear my Eng 312 professor now, “you are all writers, but once you get paid to do it, you’re an author”), I know that grabbing the reader is one of the most difficult things to do. You can’t just start the reader off with something bland. They want a reason to start reading, and then they need a reason to continue reading. For example, with The Alchemist, my only reason to continue reading that was that it was quick. In The Technologists, Pearl entices the reader so effortlessly, it must be simply second nature to him. Honestly? I couldn’t put the book down.
I do have to admit, it did start a bit rough for me, simply because there was a bit of science in the beginning, and though I love Mythbusters (who doesn’t? They blow stuff up), science was never one of my favorite subjects. And Pearl does his homework, so there was some science in there (for reals). And it’s not just science he studies, because I read The Dante Club soon after The Technologists, and I can tell you, the man knows how to do his research. But really, that’s how you should define a good storyteller. They should do their research, so they know what they are talking about, and they should possess a keen ability to make you want to continue reading their work, even after you finish it.
And for the record, though I love Sherlock Holmes, I don’t typically like murder mysteries. So that fact alone should tell you that The Technologists is a must read. It makes a non murder mystery fan, like a murder mystery book. I will admit, it’s not your typical murder mystery and that it doesn’t really fit the Dan Patterson profile. And technically, it can’t be classified a murder mystery. There really isn’t a murder in this book. Some people die, but the intention wasn’t murder, it was chaos. And I guess I should actually talk about the plot some, huh?
The Technologists’main plot is that there are these ‘accidents’ happening all around Boston. And, unfortunately for them, the kids over at MIT are being blamed for them. Now of course, these ‘kids’ (though I use the term loosely, as some of them had already fought in a war), won’t take this sitting down. They fight these allegations especially hard, since they could lose their school over it. And it’s a shame, really, that they get blamed for these accidents, because on top of all that, they have to suffer the pious and their disdain of the school’s Darwinist principles, and the obnoxious snobbery from the Harvard students.
One would think that the answer to who the culprit is would be clear cut, but there are definitely a few twists to this book. One, for example, is the budding romance that develops. It was especially surprising because it revolved around nerds. I mean, no offence. Afterall, I am one, but one never expects them to get any in a book. Who wants to read about fingers touching over beakers? Okay, that didn’t actually happen, and I may have actually died if it did.
Would I recommend this book in general? Yes, definitely. I thought it was a really quick, fun and intelligent read. Like I said I could barely put the book down. And when I did, it was to look up something (pertaining to the plot) on Wikipedia. I mean, this book not only keeps you enveloped in the mystery but also makes you want to learn! Where else can you find that?