11 May 2015

Review: The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak by Brian Katcher


The Improbably Theory of Ana & Zak by Brian Katcher

Expected publication: 19 May 2015 by Katherine Tegen Books

Pages: 336 

Genre/s: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Source: Publisher for review

Find it: Goodreads ~ Amazon

Synposis

It all begins when Ana Watson's little brother, Clayton, secretly ditches the quiz bowl semifinals to go to the Washingcon sci-fi convention on what should have been a normal, résumé-building school trip.

If slacker Zak Duquette hadn't talked up the geek fan fest so much, maybe Clayton wouldn't have broken nearly every school rule or jeopardized Ana’s last shot at freedom from her uptight parents.

Now, teaming up with Duquette is the only way for Ana to chase down Clayton in the sea of orcs, zombies, bikini-clad princesses, Trekkies, and Smurfs. After all, one does not simply walk into Washingcon.

But in spite of Zak's devil-may-care attitude, he has his own reasons for being as lost as Ana-and Ana may have more in common with him than she thinks. Ana and Zak certainly don’t expect the long crazy night, which begins as a nerdfighter manhunt, to transform into so much more…

My Thoughts

I enjoyed Brian Katcher’s Almost Perfect when I read it last year – I was in the midst of a YA GLBT kick, and I liked the unique storyline and the kooky characters, so I was really looking forward to The Improbably Theory of Ana and Zak, particularly due to the setting – a sci-fi convention – geeks unite!

Zak is the ultimate cool geek with a few personal demons and Ana is the ultimate perfect student who lives under a cloud of permanent pressure from her parents, and herself.  Katcher’s choice to alternate perspectives between Ana and Zak works perfectly – and I loved being in Zak’s head, and although I took a while to warm up to her, I also enjoyed Ana’s side of the story.

Both Zak and Ana have their share of problems, and instead of being just a crazy, funny story, Katcher does get down to the bones of their issues and rather than just being a backdrop, they shape how the plot develops, even if they are not directly addressed in the body of the novel.

When it comes to the romance, there’s definitely a strong love/hate vibe in the beginning, and it was fun to watch the relationship change and the banter was funny and endearing, although perhaps not as laugh-out-loud funny as I had anticipated (but I’m a tough crowd in that respect).

The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak is definitely a kooky story, and at times Katcher trades in realism for a rather far-fetched storyline, but it works perfectly for the setting of a sci-fi convention – there’s a feeling that anything can happen, and it certainly does – practically all in the space of one night.  And don’t worry if sci-fi culture isn’t really your thing – the references are quite broad and refer mainly to the more mainstream than the hardcore, making it an easy and fun read.

Overall, The Improbably Theory of Ana and Zak didn’t blow me away, but it kept me entertained and (internally) smiling – I loved the characters, enjoyed the uniqueness of the plot and the fact that Katcher pushed a few of the traditional YA contemporary boundaries.

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