2 out of 4 stars
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Point Zero, written by Simon Bennett, is a novel that revolves around Will (William Johnson) and Tom (Tomas Ramirez), friends who met when they both attended the traditional and renowned St. Andrews University, in Scotland. Will and Tom are athletic young men who enjoy life and are also fascinated by science; both studied atomic, molecular, and optical physics. Tom is Spanish but has lived in the UK since he was three years old.
After graduation, they went on different paths. Will worked in nano research, which took him to South Korea and Taiwan, amongst other places; Tom worked on various research projects until he began lecturing at the University of Birmingham. The two friends happily reunite when Tom invites Will to join him in Birmingham, where an opportunity came up at the university. Will gladly accepts it, and once there, he meets Tom’s girlfriend, Susie, her dog Trevor, and her attractive friend Suki, who is visiting from Manchester. And the adventures begin.
The book has nimble and lively undertones, which is what I liked the most about it. The author's writing style is good-humored. It often felt like reading the script of an entertaining TV sitcom akin to The Big Bang Theory. Instead of misanthropic, socially awkward physicists, though, the protagonists are witty young men who thoroughly enjoy life’s pleasures. They appreciate good food, drinking, and partying.
Be that as it may, as the book progressed, I became increasingly frustrated with the fickle plot, which was what I disliked the most. I pushed on, hoping that deeper conflicts or major developments would come at some point, but that did not happen, unfortunately. Moreover, there was no overarching storyline, and it felt as if the characters were going about their daily lives. Interesting concepts of advanced physics get discussed, especially by Will and his landlord, Jacque. Still, I couldn’t help longing for something a little more structured. The book tries to mix science and adventure, but it ends up dangerously close to being about nothing at all.
In closing, I rate Point Zero 2 out of 4 stars. The book has several editing mishaps, so it does not seem professionally edited. Due to the errors and the negatives previously described, I’m taking two stars away from the rating. What you make of this book depends on how much you enjoy a loose and youthful exploration of everyday life seen from the eyes of young and knowledgeable college professors. I believe it will appeal to readers who are fond of physics. If you are put off by the lack of an overarching plot, you may want to steer clear of it. The book has potential, but it still needs some work.
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