Book Review: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

This is my most recent book review in the last two weeks and the first I made for the month. In fact, that’s simply half compared to what I have made last month which is less than half to the reviews I posted in June and May. What has happened to me?!

I’ll tell you what happened to me. Accountancy happened.

And the only book that I’ve been pouring my attention on for the last month is my Financial Accounting book. Actually, ever since I had that in-your-face life-altering grade for our second long exam last month (I’m not gonna tell you how much I got. I’ll just cry tears of broken glass), it’s been about the only book that I’ve had my face buried on.

Until this weekend.

I gave myself the entire Friday night as a sort of self-congratulatory celebration after finishing two of my Midterm exams and another long exam in Accounting with (at least) reasonable ease and successfully finishing the projects in Economics and Marketing that I was whining (look at me, I’m whining already. Whining.) about two weeks ago. It extended to most of Saturday night after I finally finished the Economics project due yesterday. Somehow, The Rosie Project became the source of my drive and motivation to finish the project when I was at the point of having no inspiration at all.

Simply by having the mindset, “Kate, you have to finish this project. You still have another “project” you need to finish reading.” was helping me type each character into Microsoft Word and that “Body” turned into the 5-page body of our literature review. I was proud of it–it wasn’t even half-assed which made me even prouder of myself. So thank you, The Rosie Project. (Now that I’ve finished my supposedly Oscar-material thank you speech, let’s get on with the actual review. This is gonna be a long one, folks.)

The Rosie Project is a story about a genetics professor, Don Tillman and how he never has a second date. But that’s okay with him since his lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that maybe he’s just not wired for romance. That is, until an acquaintance told him that he would make a “wonderful” husband. Thus, the creation of The Wife Project. Don sets out to find the ideal and perfect partner with the evidence-based manner to which he deals with everything else. She must be punctual and logical–and most definitely not a barmaid, drinker, smoker and late-arriver. But Rosie Jarman is all this things and she is on a quest of her own–the search of her biological father. With his expertise to help her, Don’s Wife Project takes a step back for the Father Project. And along the way, the scientifically-minded scientist starts to realize that love is not always what looks good on paper.

I learned about this novel when I read a news about Jennifer Lawrence grabbing another romantic-comedy project that’s adapted from a book–just like Silver Linings Playbook (which I totally loved). So I was curious and read the blurb on Goodreads. My initial impression was that Don was going to be this goofy and geeky and clumsy science guy who’s in search for romance like Leonard Hofstadter was in The Big Bang Theory. Turns out, he’s more like a Sheldon. And that’s okay with me since I have a soft spot for people like Shelly.

The big difference between the two, though, (and I notice people don’t really discuss this much in Goodreads. Maybe it’s just me?) is that Sheldon is perfectly (and densely) content of his love life B.A (or Before Amy) and how he is for that matter. But somewhere underneath the security that is logical-thinking, Don, on the other hand, is not. And to me that made him an even more empathetic character than Sheldon.

He is aware that he is different than other people but the way he fumbles about emotions and social conventions is so different and moving I practically shed a tear or two last Saturday night while reading the Le Gavroche scene (but maybe they’re also pent-up emotions from finally finishing my two Midterm projects?).

Rosie was wonderful as well. She kind of reminds me of Margo Roth Spiegelman with the added fierceness and being more than just a mystery. And while I could easily see J-Law portraying her, I didn’t imagine J-Law as her while reading the story. Rosie is clever and fiery. But there are moments when I felt like something is lacking–I don’t know what; I just feel so.

The whole mystery about the identity of Rosie’s father was kind of predictable. By “kind of”, I meant that I had a fleeting suspicion during the first half of the story that was being constantly changed while reading through the second half. By the end of the novel, I thought, “I knew it.” But the part in the second half that led me off made the story quite interesting.

What really engaged me, though, was the dialogue and Don’s inner thoughts. For instance, this scene with a “potential partner” who Don was interviewing for the Wife Project:

‘I’ve sequenced the questions for maximum speed of elimination,’ I explained. ‘I believe I can eliminate most women in less than forty seconds. Then you can choose the topic of discussion for the remaining time.’
‘But then it won’t matter,’ said Frances. ‘I’ll have been eliminated.’
‘Only as a potential partner. We may still be able to have an interesting discussion.’
‘But I’ll have been eliminated.’
I nodded. ‘Do you smoke?’
‘Occasionally,’ she said.
I put the questionnaire away.
‘Excellent.’ I was pleased that my question sequencing was working so well. We could have wasted time talking about ice-cream flavours and make-up only to find that she smoked. Needless to say, smoking was not negotiable. ‘No more questions. What would you like to discuss?’

This would be pretty exciting and funny to watch in a film, was my first thought.

As for the issue of putting humor on people with Asperger’s or autism, I think the comedic effect was filled with innocence and adorable-ness. Although I do think that, while the book did step out from the Sheldon/Asperger’s stereotype, it did not step out far enough. A refreshing perspective on people with Asperger’s would have been great.

What really, really, bummed me out was the overly-quick wrapped-up ending. I would have loved for the resolution to be drawn out more than a few pages but it wasn’t.

I remember one New Year’s Eve when me and my aunt bought this firecracker that was amazingly sold by the vendor and we were so excited to fire it up during the New Year’s countdown. But when we did, it just shot straight up to the sky and had this…crack. Like, seriously, it was a crack compared to other firecrackers’ boom and roar. It was disappointing. That was how I felt with the ending.

Overall, I loved the story and the protagonist and I’ll probably read the sequel but that’s after I finish reading that two books in my Currently Reading list on the right (for those who don’t know, that list hasn’t been updated since the 17th century.) The Rosie Project was a wonderful feel-good novel with some unconventional elements added to its romantic-comedy genre. I’ll be anticipating the movie adaptation for this but, like many movie adaptations after Harry Potter, remain cautious for how it will turn out. Hoping that Jennifer Lawrence will add something to it; just…no more Bradley Cooper, please? They’re a done OTP as Tiffany and Pat for me.



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