“Move over, Sheldon Cooper. There’s a new brilliant, socially inept scientist poised to win over a huge audience, and his name is Don Tillman, in The Rosie Project….It’s not surprising that debut novelist Graeme Simsion has a background in science —The Rosie Project, already a success in Australia, seems almost precision-engineered to keep readers turning pages. But unlike its unexpectedly lovable hero, this rom-com is bursting with warmth, emotional depth, and intentional humor.” (A-)
“Simsion’s attention to detail brings to life Don’s wonderful, weird world. Instead of using Don’s Asperger’s syndrome as a fault, or a lead into a tragic turn of events, Simsion creates a heartwarming story of an extraordinary man learning to live in an ordinary world, and to love. As Don would say, this book is ‘great fun.’”
I started reading this book as it came highly recommended to me by my mom. She read it for her book club, and thought I would enjoy it. She only had to say one sentence to really pique my interests.
“It’s like that annoying science show you watch all the time,” she said referencing The Big Bang Theory.
It seemed like I could give this book a try.
I immediately noticed the similarities between the novel and the television show. For starters, the main characters in each, Don Tillman and Sheldon Cooper, respectively, are both scientists and can’t interpret social cues. Even though they feel they are abiding by social norms. Don, for all intents and purposes could be an older version of Sheldon.
Because of the way this book is written, it makes it hard to stick with it when first starting out. Don’s thoughts are highly intellectual, but lack any sort of emotional aspects. It’s hard for the reader to relate. As the story moves forward, we are introduced to the rest of the cast and the intricacies of their relationships. While they all seem traditional, there are elements that make them unique and help to move the story along.
My first impression of Don Tillman, our protagonist, was that he was a complete condescending piece of shit. Excuse the language. He didn’t seem to respect women, he judged others harshly, and couldn’t see the world for what it was outside of his own head. It was this personality that almost made me put the book down. It just wasn’t a pleasant read. But I stuck with it for a few more chapters and was introduced to Rosie.
Rosie is your typical, untypical love interest. As soon as she graces the pages, two things happen:
- The book becomes more enjoyable to read.
- The book becomes infinitely more predictable.
Yes, sometimes it’s nice not to have to analyze every word of what you’re reading, but when you consider the main character and his complexities, it’s easy to assume the plot will follow the same course.
As Don and Rosie spend more time together, the story takes on a comedic and serious tone. The author has managed to find a balance between the two aspects that propels the story forward. There are many things that rub me the wrong way about his book, and the main issue is with the ending. Don ends up changing the majority of who he is to find love. Maybe it’s just me, but if you have to change yourself for someone else, you’re with the wrong person. Someone should love you for who you are.
The ending came as no surprise, which I was a little disappointed about. I wanted more twists and turns to the story, as that is what happens constantly on The Big Bang Theory. I think because I came into the book with the expectation that it was going to be like the show, I held it to a higher standard than I normally would have. I wish I could have read this without that pre-judgement and my experience may have been more enjoyable.
Overall, The Rosie Project is a well-written, engaging story that shows the complexities of human emotion and thought. This is a novel that I would definitely recommend, but I’d also preface it with the warning that you need to go into it with an open mind.
The author is currently working on a follow-up to this critically-acclaimed novel, which has earned the Australian Writers Guild/Inscription Award for Best Romantic Comedy Script and has been optioned by Sony Pictures.
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars