Young Curfew Vanpyre is a misfit in his family and in his school. He simply cannot agree with his family’s way of life. Curfew and his sisters Taffeta and Amphetamine begin the search for what is really behind the family’s wealth and power.
Theme of the Book
The Teenager’s Guide to Quantum Mechanics is in one way a tongue-in-cheek look at today’s society. It is also a statement of a philosophy of life based partly on the Bible and partly on the views of an advanced civilization, the Doonians.
What I Liked About the Story
It is rare to find a novel that is intellectually challenging. This one had me searching Google several times for quantum physics, for nephilim, and for genetic research. Readers not overly familiar with the Bible will also learn something about David and Goliath and about the original fall from the Garden of Eden.
Drawing on quantum mechanics, the Bible, and current events and personalities, Avell Kro has invented a rather puzzling world that may leave the reader better informed but more confused.
Kro’s picture of current post-industrial society is a dark one. Most things are controlled by the very rich; the average person is anesthetized by video and social media; the main characteristic of the human race is egocentrism. Kro does give us a glimmer of hope, however, in the person of Curfew Vanpyre and in the machinations of the Doonian Cultural Commission.
Curfew is a teenager with more than his share of angst. He doesn’t seem to fit anywhere except, perhaps, in his Czech international school and at his Aunt Bristle’s Prague apartment. Curfew’s epiphany comes after a night of heavy drug use when he wakes up speaking in Hebrew. This leads him on a quest to read and understand stories from the Old Testament. At the same time, the Doonian Cultural Commission discovers the influence of the Fallen Ones who are set on corrupting the spiritual heritage of the human race.
The Biblical references allow Kro to expound on an anti-materialistic philosophy that unites the Doonians and Curfew in opposition to the evils of society.
Combining science, the Bible, economics, genetic research, and the eternal battle between good and evil, Kro’s novel is certainly rich.
What I Didn’t like About the Story
First, the humor in the story is based on word play and allusions to current society. Thus we have the Vanpyre family with their butler, Phuk Yu. There are the various pubs, the Golden Handshake, the Double Standard, and the Delinquent Apostrophe. The humor is either so broad that it verges on slapstick or so subtle that most young readers may not understand it.
In addition to humor that will go over the heads of many readers, the long, multi-page analyses of fairy tales seems out of place in a novel marketed to the YA audience. In these sections of the book, it seems as though the author got carried away trying to explain facets of human nature.
The ending did tie together all the loose threads of the story but felt rushed. It was as if the author realized she had spent too much time on fairy tale analysis and had to quickly come to a conclusion. Adding new characters in the last two chapters is not the way to develop a coherent plot.
According to its Amazon page, The Teenager’s Guide to Quantum Mechanics is marketed as a YA novel, suitable for readers between 12 and 18 years old. Due to certain aspects of the book, I think perhaps those over the age of 16 or 17 who are looking for a philosophy to explain today’s difficult times may find this worth reading.