Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Unseen World by Liz Moore

 PW Reviews 2016 May #3
In her third novel, Moore (Heft) delivers a striking examination of family, memory, and technology. Leaping from the 1980s to the early 2000s, this is the story of young Ada Sibelius and her brilliant computer scientist father, David, who runs a lab at a prestigious college in Boston, working to develop a lifelike artificial intelligence program, ELIXIR. Ada is being raised nontraditionallyâ€"educated by David and his lab colleagues, treated as one of the team, without kid glovesâ€"but when David begins showing signs of Alzheimer's, her life is upended. She is sent to a local junior high school, where she is forced to interact with children her own age, and when David can no longer remain unsupervised, she is taken in by Diana Liston, David's closest associate. Moore's exploration of David's decline is remarkable and heartbreaking, and she shifts gears deftly as the story is complicated further: when Liston tries to become Ada's legal guardian, questions about David's identity arise. Since David can no longer answer for himself, Ada takes charge and tries to unravel her father's cryptic past, leading to the discovery of a hidden file, titled "The Unseen World," on David's computer. Mysteries build, and Moore's gift for storytelling excels. This is a smart, emotionally powerful literary page-turner.
LJ Reviews 2016 June #1
Moore's third and perhaps most ambitious novel (after Heft and The Words of Every Song) is large in scope, as it explores the philosophical issues surrounding human vs. computer consciousness, but it is also a small-scale, powerfully local story about a young girl. The details of Ada Sibelius's day-to-day life in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood, homeschooled by her genius father, carry this narrative. She is forced to grow up fast, helping her father and his team at a computer science lab, and caring for him as he suffers from early-onset Alzheimer's. As his health and memory rapidly decline, she discovers her parent was not who he said he was, and with the help of a private investigator and a local librarian, learns more about him and his sacrifices than he would ever share with her. The story also flashes forward to the present and near future, when Ada is working for a tech company to produce a virtual reality world. VERDICT Moore's vivid characters will stay with readers long after the story has ended. Highly recommended for literary fiction enthusiasts, with crossover appeal to sf fans. [See Prepub Alert, 12/7/15.]â€"Kate Gray, Boston P.L., MA
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