Review: Evidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey Lane

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Evidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey LaneEvidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey Lane
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) on September 16, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Pages: 224
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book Depository

When high school junior Tommy Smythe goes missing, everyone has a theory about what happened to him. Tommy was adopted, so maybe he ran away to find his birth parents. He was an odd kid, often deeply involved in his own thoughts about particle physics, so maybe he just got distracted and wandered off. He was last seen at a pull-out off the highway, so maybe someone drove up and snatched him. Or maybe he slipped into a parallel universe. Tommy believes that everything is possible, and that until something can be proven false, it is possibly true. So as long as Tommy’s whereabouts are undetermined, he could literally be anywhere.

Told in a series of first-person narratives from people who knew Tommy and third-person chapters about people who find the things Tommy left behind—his red motorbike, his driving goggles, pages from his notebook—Particles explores themes of loneliness, connectedness, and the role we play in creating our own realities.

One thing I can say for certain is that Evidence of Things Not Seen is like no book I’ve read before. It’s not often I can say that, but I love when it happens. Even when I don’t like the book, I’m sort of awe-struck by the books that manage to be completely original. Also, I’m generally gaping because they’re really strange, and I’m curious how anyone ever came up with that idea. Lindsey Lane’s debut is like that. I enjoyed it the whole way through and was impressed, but I also don’t feel like I entirely understood it. To me, Evidence of Things Not Seen feel like it reads more like a collection of short stories than a cohesive novel.

This book is WEIRD. I really can’t say that enough. Evidence of Things Not Seen is about the disappearance of a boy called Tommy Smythe, who was obsessed with the idea of parallel universes, but it’s also not about him at all. Sure, we get a picture of Tommy from other people’s accounts, but it’s actually about the other people and not him. The book alternates between first person accounts, one side of questioning by the police as they investigate, and third person sections about people who find something Tommy left behind. That latter connection I mostly got through the blurb, because, honestly, I wasn’t always sure that they found something of Tommy’s. Like, I guess the comic book Maricela found used to be Tommy’s? I don’t know. As I said, I didn’t entirely get this one. The first and third person switches were initially quite jarring, but I fell into the pace of it.

The first person sections present a portrait of Tommy. We learn about each person’s perspective on Tommy, all united in some aspects but with their own personal twists and theories. What was most interesting to this part was seeing the way each person reacts to disappearance. There are a whole host of assumptions that people make, like whether being disappeared for weeks equals dead or not. Lane has a serious talent for narrative voice, because there are twelve different first person perspectives in this book and they were all very distinct. That is impressive like whoa.

The third person chapters rarely have anything whatsoever to do with Tommy, aside from a momentary reflection in some cases about the found item, though those sometimes feel a bit forced, as in the case of Karla. These really feel like short stories and they’re good ones. What you should prepare for, though, is how incredibly dark and edgy they are. One of them includes incest. Another child prostitution and murder. Yet another involves physical abuse. If that’s not enough dark stuff for you, don’t worry because there’s also a story where a girl rapes her best friend. So yeah. This book is heavy. The scenes are also pretty graphic. I’m actually really impressed that this book got picked up and published.

I did like most of the chapters a lot, but I struggle majorly with the point of the book. There are these snippets of Tommy’s journal between chapters and I feel like the point is somewhere in there with all the science, but damn am I bad at science. I’m probably supposed to have an opinion on the overarching plot, but I really don’t. I’m not all that interested in Tommy, because I’ve never met him. I’m much more interested in learning the resolution of Izzy’s plot line than where Tommy’s gone, though I’d like to know both if I could. I guess I feel like I’m not smart enough for this book in some respects, sort of like I felt about Charm and Strange.

A lot of people probably are not going to like Evidence of Things Not Seen. It’s dark and risky and confusing and open-ended. It wasn’t a perfect read for me, but it is one that has me taking notice. I’ll most definitely be watching Lane’s career, because one thing’s for sure: this woman can write.

Favorite Quote:

I think we create a God because life is mysterious. Because we don’t understand the space in between the particles so we fill it with God. If some supreme being is responsible for all the spaces in between, then we don’t have to be afraid of the mysteries. As if God is some shield against fear.

Except everyone is still afraid. Which is weird, because if there was some supreme being who created Higgs field, which caused matter to create mass and gravity and life as we know it, then that supreme being would also create and intelligence big enough to conceive of it, big enough to hold all kinds of possibilities, big enough to see the spaces in between and not be afraid.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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4 responses to “Review: Evidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey Lane”

  1. WOAH. I had seen the cover of this book, and perhaps even read the description but wasn’t really intrigued by it. But now you have me super curious because this sounds suuuuper weird and fascinating. & to write 12 different voices in a way that you praise? Well it’s definitely going on my TBR list now!
    Rachelia (Bookish Comforts) recently posted…{Review} Dark Triumph by Robin LaFeversMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      It is INCREDIBLY weird. Really like nothing else I’ve read, especially when you factor in that it’s YA. I’m really impressed, despite not entirely understanding it. I hope you find it interesting!

  2. Meg says:

    This book sounds every kind of incredible and I want it, I want it now.

    “It’s dark and risky and confusing and open-ended.” <–Yesssssssssss. I can't read those books all the time but I do so love the excellent ones when I read them. Wishlisted (curse you newly sprung up sense of fiscal responsibility, I hope you're merely a passing fancy)
    Meg recently posted…Review: Gone Girl by Gillian FlynnMy Profile

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