Timothy Rice

The Rosie Project

Humans often fail to see what is close to them and obvious to others.

Rating: 2/5 – Heavy handed characterization drags the whole things down.

I tend not to read romance novels, though the few that I have I enjoyed immensely. Notably The Time Traveler’s Wife and A Civil Campaign This book had some strong recommendations from a few sources I trust, so I came in with high hopes.

Sadly the narrator, Don Tillman, sank the whole thing for me. While I respect what the author was trying to accomplish by putting the reader in the mind of someone on the autism spectrum, the entire delivery was extremely clumsy and heavy handed. Critically, the narration suffers from a bad case of “telling, not showing”.

The book felt like it was written by someone who was guessing at what would go on in the mind of a mildly autistic individual. Very little of Don’s experience felt genuine, instead it seemed like the author was encouraging the reader to understand him as a ridiculous character, not a sympathetic one.

This novel would have worked much better if it hadn’t tried so hard to bludgeon the reader with Don’s condition. If instead the author had focused more on Don’s bewilderment and frustration (instead of hammering on how SUPER ANALYTICAL Don is on EVERY DAMN PARAGRAPH), inviting the reader to experience those emotions with him, it would have been a much more powerful book. This is naturally a much harder writing task and would likely require a much better author, but them’s the breaks.

Finally, the “twist” at the end with Rosie’s father irritated me. It didn’t occur to this super genius hyper analytical person to test the most obvious paternal candidate in the first week? It was sure the first person that I wanted to get test results for. You must always check your assumptions!!

There was also some weird fixation on self-medicating through drinking, and a half dropped subplot about Don realizing that he has autism that was never fleshed out. Overall, a disappointing experience.

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