11 November 2013

Coincidence; J.W. Ironmonger

CoincidenceCoincidence by J W Ironmonger
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Very uneven writing in what could have been a really outstanding book.

Azalea's life seems ruled by coincidence, and yet... are they? Can the seemingly ordained be explained? That's the position taken by Thomas, whose academic career is founded on disproving the existence of coincidences by mathematics. Several examples from "real life" are used, like how many times you flip a coin and get heads, long digressions into the Big Bang and billiard ball theories, and then there's Azalea's life.

Azalea's life is told in a series of flashbacks, and from her apparent abandonment by her mother to her finding possible fathers to the deaths of her adoptive parents coincidence has ruled things. This leads her to believe that there will be another event that will occur, one that Thomas realizes he cannot live with (even as he disproves or deflates her interpretation of the earlier events). The strongest parts of the book are when we're hearing about her life before they meet and their relationship; the weakest are when the narrator interrupts. The tone of the latter is not as strong as the force of the narrative, perhaps because it's in that "we know... we see..." mode. Pacing is another weakness, with the ending feeling a little rushed.

As for the coincidences? Too many of them are resolved "off stage" without Azalea's awareness. At times the author seems to be trying to prove determinism, while at others it's a definite argument for randomness/free will. This would have been a better book had the author chosen one side.

ARC provided by publisher.

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