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Merle

Merle

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion

I had heard great things about this book, and was disappointed to find that it’s not a great book. But if you’re in the mood for a breezy romantic comedy in book form, you’ll probably enjoy it.

 

Don is a socially awkward genetics professor who probably has Asperger’s. At 39, he’s decided it’s time for marriage, but misunderstanding social cues means his dates all go badly. He develops a scientifically valid questionnarie to find a compatible mate… before, of course, meeting Rosie. On paper she’s all wrong for him, but her search for her biological father draws them together, and you can guess the rest.

 

This is a light, enjoyable, quick read that’s hard to put down once you get going. And it has its share of wince-worthy but funny moments, especially in the beginning. Plot-wise, it’s very similar to the sort of romantic comedy you’d seen on the screen, though the use of Don’s first-person voice provides amusing insights into his way of viewing the world that wouldn’t come across in a movie. The novel is driven by Don’s thoughts and by dialogue and action; perhaps because it was adapted from a screenplay, or perhaps because Don is unobservant, there’s little description or sensory detail.

 

My tepid response to this book is largely due to the characters. The supporting cast, including Rosie, is rather flat, even accounting for the limitations of Don’s viewpoint. And while Don starts out as a believable professor with Asperger’s, he becomes more of a socially awkward Superman. This guy isn’t just great at science and math: he can trounce a pair of bouncers with his martial arts skills; he can climb a sheer wall without equipment; he can learn to dance in a week and a half of practicing alone. He’s even a naturally great bartender, with the ability to remember the names and drink orders of nearly 100 people he’s just met, despite the fact that a plot point depends on his not knowing his own boss’s name. Even his social ineptness and overwhelming need for structure are easily overcome when he puts his mind to it. Real people just don’t have it that easy, Asperger’s or no.

 

In the end, this is decent light entertainment but not a book that impressed me, nor one that satisfied my inner romantic. If Don had been more believable, or Rosie had more depth, it might have been more fulfilling. As is, it’s sort of cute, but with precious little substance.