"Sinai Unhinged" by Joanna Evans
Something horrifying is happening at the Particle Physics Research and Development Complex in North Carolina. Three physicists working on a sub-atomic particle accelerator known as the Destabilizer, have become psychotic and two of them have died. Alex, the daughter of physicist Jonas Kraig, cannot forget her father’s words, “Events will unfold that will rock the heart of man.”
Part psychological thriller, part sci-fi, part action novel, Sinai Unhinged by Joanna P. Evans has been very well thought out and paced. However, the reader needs to pay attention because the mixture of psychiatry and physics has produced a complex novel. It is a tribute to the author’s imagination and full of drama, both individual and corporate. In parts it is metaphysical, reminding me of a quote from Hawking at the close of ‘A Brief History of Time’ although possibly not of his more recent statement that he advised people looking for God to believe instead in the beauty of pure physics.
Certainly physics at the level of this novel can be a challenge. Congratulations to the author for bringing this subject into the realm of the secular audience. Along the way we meet characters each of whom seem broken, and this allows the theme of psychiatry to slip in easily beside the physics. There are no happy people struggling within the web of the Complex and the psychiatric ward at Sinai Hospital. Instead we meet insanity, power, money, turbulent emotions and a puzzle that needs to be solved by a protagonist who is not a physicist.
The challenge in a novel of such sophisticated concepts is to place them before readers so that they can be understood without the author falling into the trap of telling not showing. On the whole I think she’s done a really good job although at times it was a lot to take in and I wondered if a softening influence such as love, humour or eccentricity could have been woven through it.
There are paragraphs that I felt could have been tightened for pace, but I stress that that is a personal preference. The choice really depends on whether the author wants to add that unexpected shot of tension by writing more concisely at a chosen point, or building a longer scene to its climax by repeated blows punctuated by parts of the plot that we are familiar with. Again, this view is subjective because popular action novels are typically adrenalin-charged, in common with Sinai Unhinged. In fact, while ‘unhinged’ means deranged it could equally be ‘let off the lease’ here. (Or perhaps ‘ballistic’?) There’s much about Sinai Unhinged that has turned it into an excellent action novel no matter how one prefers that action delivered. Indeed, the end races towards a thrilling conclusion.
Certainly, this very original novel should do well and will engage an audience that enjoys a solid and stimulating read.
In : Book Reviews
Tags: joanna-evans sci-fi thriller psychological action physics science