Friday, September 8, 2017

Graeme Simsion - The Rosie Effect

Forty-one-year-old geneticist Don Tillman had never had a second date before he met Rosie.
Now, living in New York City, they have survived ten months and ten days of marriage, even if Don has had to sacrifice standardized meals and embrace unscheduled sex.
But then Rosie drops the mother of all bombshells. And Don must prepare for the biggest challenge of his previously ordered life - at the same time as dodging deportation, prosecution and professional disgrace.
Is Don Tillman ready to become the man he always dreamed of being? Or will he revert to his old ways and risk losing Rosie for ever?

Comment: This is the sequel to the well received first book of the author, a story I really liked as well. In this new book, we follow the events which took place in the previous installment but after a few months have gone by.
Those who haven't read the first book would lose a lot, though, since everything is related and this is not a book one can fully understand on its own, even if the structure allows for new readers to get the plot. My comments are based on the idea the first book has been read already.

In this new book, Don is living with Rosie in New York so they both can work on their careers, Rosie in particular. When the book begins, Don is feeling conflicted because his friend Gene's family situation is now at a critical stage and he split up with his wife after she finds out he cheated on her. Don tries to help his friend by making things happen so that Gene can work in New York for a while but of course Rosie isn't fond of this idea, especially because something unexpected is going to happen: Don and Rosie are going to become parents.
While Don accepts and deals with this fact, his life still goes through many weird situations only his brain can provide enough explanations for and we, as a reader, surely follow his often complicated steps...

Overall, I think this second story wasn't as good as the first one. The innovative type of character is already known but his way of seeing and describing things is still the same and this is what obviously makes this story special, how Don acts and reacts to things so differently. 
I think what wasn't as well done was the portrayal of Don and Rosie's relationship in some specific situations. Of course Don would struggle a bit with the idea of being a father, even people considered "average" would, but there were certain details I wasn't such a fan of.

Basically, the relationship deteriorates as the plot moves forward because Don doesn't seem to act as if he truly cares about being a father but Rosie already knew he was different so... while valid she could now think differently when a child is on her mind, why did she decide on her own he would be "put aside?"
Another thing I was bothered with about Rosie in this book is why she got to decide to become pregnant in the first place! Unless I misread, she was the one who thought it would be a good idea to have a baby but she didn't talk to Don about it, she just let it happen and announced it later. Wouldn't it be better for someone like Don to deal with it had he known? I can see the plot purposes in this, but then why her reaction...
I really think Rosie, as a character, was placed in a position we would only be able to see her as a sort of opponent when compared to Don and I can't say this felt right or well done, even more so when the end tried to convince us it was all just a (expected) misunderstanding.

My personal preferences and dislikes aside, the story is still engaging and filled with funny and amazing situations only because we see them through Don's eyes. What would be easy or embarrassing for us is usually the opposite for Don and it's particularly interesting when he, not being aware of social interactions and subtleties, can create quite the scene without knowing it. At the same time, for me, this is what makes Don such a great character, his ability to process things differently and how he responds to it.

All things considered, this book should be much weaker for me but I still gave it four stars on GR because the element I liked the best is still here: Don's personality and his attempt to be social, to be the person others respect and even look up to but he didn't become a perfect man, husband or person just to suit the novel.
Some readers say this book suffers of being released too quickly after the successful first one and it's not as fun as the other one was. I kind of agree with the fact this book feels more serious too but at the end of the day, it still worked out, in general, for me. Just not as wonderful.
Grade: 7/10

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