REVIEW: The Theory of Everything by Kari Luna

theoryofeverythingThe Theory of Everything by Kari Luna
Philomel, 2013
[Goodreads] [Amazon]

One part Libba Bray’s GOING BOVINE, two parts String Theory, and three parts love story equals a whimsical novel that will change the way you think about the world.

Sophie Sophia is obsessed with music from the late eighties. She also has an eccentric physicist father who sometimes vanishes for days and sees things other people don’t see. But when he disappears for good and Sophie’s mom moves them from Brooklyn, New York, to Havencrest, Illinois, for a fresh start, things take a turn for the weird. Sophie starts seeing things, like marching band pandas, just like her dad.

Guided by Walt, her shaman panda, and her new (human) friend named Finny, Sophie is determined to find her father and figure out her visions, once and for all. So she travels back to where it began—New York City and NYU’s physics department. As she discovers more about her dad’s research on M-theory and her father himself, Sophie opens her eyes to the world’s infinite possibilities—and her heart to love.


I went into The Theory of Everything hoping that I’d find a charming, contemporary read that would make me smile. Of late, I’ve been reading a lot of paranormal books, and was kind of tired of them so wanted something that would do a complete 360*. Thankfully, that’s exactly what I got from this book: while having quite a lot of scientific talk – physics, to be exact – I was utterly charmed by the main character, Sophie, and the cast of characters that surrounded her throughout her journey.

This book was very different than anything I’d ever read. Sophie, our main character, sees things that others can’t see, which obviously causes problems for her and her mother. Her “mental illness” has resulted in suspensions/expulsions from school and several moves to different locations where her mom hopes they can start over with a clean slate. Having settled this time 50 miles north of Chicago, Sophie is hoping that her “episodes” will stop and she can finally have a normal life. While in her new town of Havencrest, Sophie befriends an absolutely amazing character named Finny, develops a crush on Kerouac-reading Drew, and gets a visit from her shaman panda, Walt.

Part of the craziness of this book is the fact that the reader isn’t really sure if Sophie is indeed hallucinating or if she’s actually traveling to various parallel universes. Deciding that she cannot keep living like this, Sophie and Finny travel to New York, where Sophie hopes to speak with her father, who suffered from the same problems. What results is a cross-country journey into personal introspection, sort of a road trip without the road. Throughout it all is Finny, possibly the awesomest best friend of all time, who – instead of telling Sophie she’s crazy – decides that this is one heck of a journey and that he will go with her every step of the way.

While Sophie’s journey is equal parts strange, amusing, emotional and downright heartbreaking in places, it was actually Finny who made this book for me personally. He had all of these really great lines, and just really seemed to get Sophie and what she needed each step of the way. He was equal parts physics-obsessed and happiness-inducing, not only for Sophie, but also for the reader. Honestly I don’t think this book would have been half as good as it was without him, and I can only wish I had a Finny of my very own. Seriously, you should read this book just for him!

The Theory of Everything is a fantastic contemporary read with a twist. There is a lot going on in this book, from Sophie’s episodes, to trying to fit into a new place, to dealing with family secrets, drama, and first crushes. If you’re charmed at all by the synopsis or the cover (seriously, this has the perfect cover!), then pick it up because I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. I had a ton of fun with this one, and would definitely recommend it!


An e-galley was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


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12 Responses to REVIEW: The Theory of Everything by Kari Luna

  1. hazelureta says:

    I was kinda dissuaded to read the book when I saw the too-cute cover. It looked silly. But hearing your thoughts, I definitely need to read this book now! Lovely review!

    • Merin says:

      Aww, see, I thought the cover was adorable and it’s what made me want to read it! I do hope you enjoy the story, and I’m glad my review has convinced you to give it a chance!

  2. Book Blather says:

    This sounds brilliant and you Finny manifesto was awesome – you won me over at “equal parts physics-obsessed and happiness-inducing”! The cover is sweet. :-) I think this sounds like a good summer read, especially with a road trip element thrown in! Cool review.

  3. Lucy says:

    Ooh I’m even more excited to read this one now! It sounds like there’s so much going on this book but wildly creative and fun too. And that cover is too cute!

    • Merin says:

      I adore the cover. I’m not sure I would have been half as drawn to the book if it didn’t feature the pink and the girl in the vintage-y clothes, and the pandas. :)

  4. Candice says:

    I think maybe I didn’t know this was more about mental illness than just a cute read. I’ve been wanting to read this one for quite a while now, but now I really want to read it! I adore the cover and Sophie sounds like a totally adorable character! Great review!

    • Merin says:

      Yeah, it’s very much a “is she hallucinating or is this actually happening” sort of set-up, and the reader just gets taken along on the ride. You definitely need to let me know what you think of it, once you read it!

  5. Meg says:

    Just stumbled across your blog and I have to say, it’s lovely! This review definitely caught my eye. The Theory of Everything seems funky and funny – thanks for a great recommendation, and for inspiring lots of blog-lust. :)

  6. Pingback: The Theory of Everything by Kari Luna - HOBBITSIES

  7. Pingback: Stacking the Shelves #56 | Read and Reviewed

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