Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl


I know, I know, long time, no post. Hush. I graduated college and got a grown-up-ish job, so I’ve been busy.

Marisha Pessl’s novel was recommended to me by one of my housemates. The name drew me in. It’s such a strange, nonsensical title for a book about a girl at a private school.

The main character is named Blue van Meer. I know, strange. She and her father travel around the country because he’s a sort of itinerant political science professor. Each chapter is named after a different classic book, and the content of the chapter relates to the subject of that book. It’s a pretty cool way to organize a novel, and a good way to add new books to one’s reading list!

Blue’s dad is really weird, and he annoyed me a LOT in this book. However, I think his character was supposed to annoy the reader. He’s brash, pompous, and arrogant. He also thinks Blue is a better specimen of a daughter than anyone else in the world. Maybe he’s right, but still, parents should have some humility! /2 cents

The novel focuses on Blue’s senior year of high school at a very exclusive private academy. She meets some “friends” (I don’t know what else to call them) through the school’s film teacher, and thus begins the action. Admittedly, about halfway through the novel, I wondered what else could happen to Blue and her father, but apparently I don’t have the imagination that Pessl has. Three words: international conspiracy and murder(?).

If you can get past the slight pretentiousness of this book, it is quite entertaining and very good. As a University of Iowa alumnae, I completely support public education and state schools. Blue’s father does not seem to agree with me. That’s okay, since I don’t have to pay for Harvard. This book really is a page-turner, just don’t pay attention to Blue’s dad being an ass.


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