Monday, May 4, 2009

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (4/5 stars)

I got this book through the Amazon vine program. People who have described this as Artemis Fowl as a chemist who solves mysteries are right on the mark. So far it looks like the author has at least two more books coming out in this series; one in 2010 and one in 2011. This was an enjoyable book overall.

Flavia is character that will put many people in mind of Artemis Fowl or Theodosia. She is a child genius that believes she knows it all; with this book though there are some marked differences from the aforementioned series. Flavia loves chemistry; and as I myself am a chemist this aspect of the book delighted me, it was great to read about the chemistry and how it was involved in the murder in the book. If anyone is really interested in the chemistry of poison: The Molecules of Murder is a very entertaining non-fiction read. Anyway, back to the book...some other differences are that the adults in this book are actually very intelligent and quite crafty in their own right; a change from the mentioned series where adults commonly act like buffoons. Also Flavia is a fairly believable character; she makes mistakes that a girl her age would make; even though she is a genius, she is not a genius at everything.

For the most part the book was well-written and fast-paced. The only problem I had with the book is that there were a ton of points were Flavia made poor assumptions and then she would figure it out and then the plot would twist in a different direction. This would have been okay if it had only happened once, but the plot twists (and Flavia's mistakes) were so numerous that it made the storyline a bit disjointed and at times a bit confusing to follow. I think this twisting also interrupted the flow of the story; which in general was good but towards the end of the book got kind of forced and contrived.

Overall it was an interesting read. I loved the that chemistry was involved in it. It would have been nice to have an afterword from the author stating how accurate all of the chemistry was and where he did his chemical research; but that is just the scientist in me speaking. I do not know if I will read any more books in this series though; Flavia did kind of get on my nerves with how often she was mistaken about things despite being a genius.

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