I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak by Brian Katcher
Published by HarperCollins on May 19th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Friendship, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 336 •Format: ARC •Source: Publisher
Perfect for fans of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak is Stonewall Award-winning author Brian Katcher's hilarious he said/she said romance about two teens discovering themselves on an out-of-this-world accidental first date at a sci-fi convention.When Ana Watson's brother ditches a high school trip to run wild at Washingcon, type-A Ana knows that she must find him or risk her last shot at freedom from her extra-controlling parents.In her desperation, she's forced to enlist the last person she'd ever want to spend time with—slacker Zak Duquette—to help find her brother before morning comes.But over the course of the night, while being chased by hordes of costumed Vikings and zombies, Ana and Zak begin to open up to each other. Soon, what starts as the most insane nerdfighter manhunt transforms into so much more. . . .
*Thanks to HarperCollins and Epic Reads for the ARC!
I went into The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak expecting a cute, quirky contemporary read. It relies heavily on a convention setting, and having received the ARC at YALLWEST, I thought it would be a fun read, having just been to a convention myself. I haven’t read anything by the author previously, so I didn’t many expectations. Unfortunately, despite not anticipating anything spectacular from this book, it still underwhelmed me with characters that lacked depth, an improbable plot bordering on absurd, and a overall younger feel.
Like any unlikely love story, both Ana and Zak come from completely different worlds. Zak is a slacker-to-the-extreme-who-is-really-smart-but-doesn’t-apply-himself, almost to the point that he feels like a caricature (at one point he turns in a plagiarized paper from Wikipedia where he couldn’t even be bothered to remove the hyperlinks). Ana is Type-A, focused solely on college and extra-curriculars, no-nonsense, super strict parents type. Both characters had underlying “reasons” that were supposed to make the readers empathize with their extreme personalities, but I feel like I didn’t spend enough time with the characters at home to really feel immersed in the family drama and struggles that crafted their personalities.
A majority of the book takes place over one night, with Ana and Zak running around the con looking for Ana’s little brother. They find themselves, both together and on their own, in ridiculous situation after ridiculous situation. While there were some funny scenarios and pop culture references, and I’m not one to knock a con, especially since I haven’t been to a ton, some of the situations felt really forced (there’s no way two people can get in THAT much trouble in such a sort time span, nor have that bad of luck). Most of the secondary characters lacked depth, solely to propel the plot of the evening along (or to make Zak seem like a player, which if you ask me did not make him seem attractive). The last 25% of the book introduced a plot point so absurd to conclude the evening that I thought it was a prank being pulled on the characters.
This novel has a feel that I think would appeal to a younger audience. There’s a lot of situational comedy and Zak and Ana’s attraction feels more like a young, misplaced crush more than a legitimate romance between two almost adults. While I don’t always dislike the “opposites attract” trope, Ana and Zak lacked sharing so many fundamental attitudes and behaviors that I see them more driving each other up the wall than dating happily ever after. View Spoiler »(In fact, it felt like the only reason Ana was even attracted to Zak was because there were so many girl characters they encountered at the con who were past hook-ups of Zak that made Ana jealous, which is not a good basis for liking someone, nor an attractive one). « Hide Spoiler “Improbable” is indeed a good word to describe this coupling, and the book didn’t prove it’s improbable theory of romance to me by the end.
Overall: The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak has a cute premise but relies on too much improbability in its plot and its romance. With a feel that’s more middle grade than YA and characters who lacked depth and chemistry, this book can be pretty much summed up with the word “meh.”
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- Goodreads Challenge