Author: Nova Jacobs
Released: March 6th 2018
Received: Own (BOTM)
The Last Equation of Isaac Severy was my BOTM pick for March (side note: I love BOTM because it does a great job getting me to read books I wouldn’t have picked for myself; nine times out of ten I end up loving my pick too, so win-win!). I’m a sucker for blue covers, so obviously I loved this one, but more than that I loved the red circles used to accent the title of the novel. It does a great job of demanding attention (plus the cover itself does a decent job of reminding us that this book is somehow about math). It’s a murder mystery novel, with the focus on math, of all things. But still, it looked like an interesting and new read, and therefore was worth giving a shot.
The Last Equation of Isaac Severy succeeded in both surprising and charming me. Before I dove into the pages of this novel I anticipated it to be along the lines of a typical lighthearted mystery – a little danger, a lot of clues being dropped, and an eventual conclusion that makes sense. What I got was so much more. This is not just a mystery or a puzzle to solve, but an exploration of the complications and intimacy that comes with family bonds and what it is like to have those bonds suddenly cut. It’s a tale of loss as much as it is a tale of discovery. It was a touching and heartbreaking story at times. If you’re looking for a mystery with surprising depth to it, then I suggest you give this one a try.
There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle that is this novel. We have multiple main characters, all of whom share the same family group (though not necessarily the same genes), many of whom share the same joys in life (math most importantly), and all of whom who have a secret or some part to play in secret keeping. Twisting and turning throughout this large group of people is the mystery that Isaac Severy dropped amongst them like a bomb. The secret he unleashed upon his death.
The trouble is most of them don’t quite know what the secret is, why they’re looking for it, or even what questions they should be asking. Since math was Isaac’s life it’s safe to assume that his secret has to do with his work, but what could possibly be so dangerous about a math equation that he felt so compelled to hide it? What did he discover?
The twists and turns of Isaac’s last equation are slowly revealed during the course of the novel. During this time we get to know many of the family members he left behind, but a few more than most. Hazel and Gregory, Isaac’s adoptive grandchildren (it’s actually a bit more complicated than that, but let’s not get into that right now) play major roles in this mystery, as does Phillip, one of Isaac’s sons. Adam is another grandchild of Isaac whom also has a part to play in this story.
I imagine each reader will reach their own conclusions and opinions about the motivations behind each character, though I believe we’re led to believe in and like Hazel (at least I know I did). I rather enjoy this type of storytelling, where everything but the major points are left up for reader interpretation.
Despite how emotional and moving this novel was, I found it to be a very relaxing read. There were some tense moments, to be sure, but they were always built up and thanks to the details revealed previously we had an idea of how they were going to go (which is an interesting concept for a mystery novel).
The Last Equation of Isaac Severy is Nova Jacobs debut novel, though I wouldn’t have gassed that on my own. He writes with the confidence of an established author. I do hope to see more from him in the near future. I wonder if he’ll continue with mystery novels, or give something else a try?