Think math’s a nightmare? Wait ’til you read Monster’s Proof….

Monster’s Proof by Richard Lewis; published by Simon & Schuster, New York, 2009; 279 pages.

Aunt Ludy once worked on the hydrogen bomb project at Los Alamos.  Then she lost her mind and was institutionalized.  One day, the remains of her collection of books was delivered to the Ell’s house.  Young Darby discovered a textbook with notes in the margin: Aunt Ludy’s notes about The Thingamabob Conjecture, and Darby’s imaginary friend Bob was born.  Seven years later, Darby’s mom has left his dad for another man because Jerry Ell is obsessed with proving the Riemann Hypothesis.  Livey, Darby’s older sister, has taken over mom’s role of running the household, but has not developed the math gifts the rest of her family possesses; in fact, she’s about to lose her spot on the cheerleading squad because of her algebra disability.  In the midst of all this, Darby has rediscovered the notes and sets out to prove the Conjecture, and bring to life his friend, Bob.  That is not a good thing.  There’s a reason Aunt Ludy lost her mind.  And now, the only hope to get Bob back to his own universe, is with help from Livey, Aunt Ludy, and some divine intervention.

So, I admit I am at a disadvantage.  Math is not my strong subject.  That’s why I am a librarian, not an elementary school teacher or even a lab tech (too much math required).  The references to Pythagorean Secret Societies, math problems, and proving hypotheses were beyond my comprehension (although, even I know that a negative times a negative is always a positive, Livey).  But that did not get in the way of the story.  Yes, there were certain points where I sighed audibly feeling like I was being left out of a secret club, and yes, I was bored in parts of the story that relied heavily on mathematical thinking.  But, {don’t tell the author} I glossed over those parts.  And yet I was still sort of sucked into the story.  There was adventure, mystery, romance and supernatural powers all woven into a tale that read like it could really happen.  The cover gives the impression that this is a horror novel, but I didn’t get that; scary, maybe, but not horror.

I met a young woman a few weeks ago who’s majoring in education; math and science for grades 4-9.  She shared that she’s struggling to find good summer reads that interest her.  She’s not that into romance, or sci-fi, or realistic fiction.  She does like stories that weave together things that interest her, like math.  Well, J***, I think I found a summer read for you!  But this book isn’t just for mathematicians; there is cross-genre appeal here, although it may take some pushing.  This book looks like a horror or math (or are they the same? 😉 ) story, but it’s got some romance and supernatural elements.

But please, if you read this, don’t use the premise that there’s a Bob Monster out there to get out of doing math homework next school year! 😉

2-3P     3Q     Grade Level: 10-12

Cover Art: The sickly blue gaping mouth with the pointy teeth on a black background, along with red letters of the title and blood spatter, make this look like a horror novel.  What a surprise readers will have when they discover math, romance and supernatural beings….

From Reading List: The Way It Could Be (Science Fiction or Fantasy)

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