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
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