Thursday, November 14, 2013

Book Review: The Theory of Opposites

By Melissa Amster

Two things stood out to me with Allison Winn Scotch's fifth novel, The Theory of Opposites. The first is the striking cover, with its colors and the map covering the woman's face. Next is the word "theory," because it makes me think of The Big Bang Theory and I love that show. This novel is NOT about four geeks dishing about Star Trek and going to the comic book store. However, the premise is interesting and thought-provoking!

What happens when you think you have it all, and then suddenly it's taken away? 

Willa Chandler-Golden's father changed the world with his self-help bestseller, Is It Really Your Choice? Why Your Entire Life May Be Out of Your Control. Millions of devoted fans now find solace in his notion that everything happens for a reason. Though Willa isn't entirely convinced of her father's theories, she readily admits that the universe has delivered her a solid life: a reliable husband, a fast-paced career. Sure there are hiccups - negative pregnancy tests, embattled siblings - but this is what the universe has brought, and life, if she doesn't think about it too much, is wonderful. 

Then her (evidently not-so-reliable) husband proposes this: a two-month break. Two months to see if they can't live their lives without each other. And before Willa can sort out destiny and fate and what it all means, she's axed from her job, her 12 year-old nephew Nicky moves in, her ex-boyfriend finds her on Facebook, and her best friend Vanessa lands a gig writing for
Dare You!, the hottest new reality TV show. And then Vanessa lures Willa into dares of her own - dares that run counter to her father's theories of fate, dares that might change everything...but only if Willa is brave enough to stop listening to the universe and instead aim for the stars. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

I don’t regularly think about fate unless something comes up to make me wonder how it all came to be. The events that unfolded which allowed me to meet my husband definitely seem like an act of fate. However, The Theory of Opposites makes me question my involvement in this act. I figured that if we were truly meant to be together, we’d meet in some way or another. However, a single sentence I uttered on a cold February night outside of a Chicago bar was the final catalyst in bringing us together. It allows me to believe that if you say whatever is on your mind, it could lead to a life-changing experience. It also makes me wonder if the two concepts of the book work in a yin-yang sort of fashion, like you can’t have one without the other. Like even if you do something to affect the outcome of your life, what happens from that point on is still meant to be and out of your control. There was a line in the new Wally Lamb book [I’m currently reading] that talks about how life hands you cards, but you’re the one who shuffles the deck. So even if life has certain things in store for us, it’s up to us to manipulate what we are given to our own liking. As you can see, this novel can lead to thought provoking discussions about fate.

Allison Winn Scotch’s first self-published novel displays her writing talent in many ways. All of the characters are interesting in their own ways and the relationships between them are made clear through strong and realistic dialogue. The use of description isn’t overwhelming and allows readers to easily visualize people and places throughout the story. Allison uses a tongue-in-cheek humorous approach to her writing. It’s more sarcastic than slapstick in nature. The juxtaposition of e-mail and social media within the story works well and doesn’t take away from the narrative. That is also where a lot of the humor comes into play.

I find it interesting that Allison’s previous two novels involved complex father-daughter relationships and now this one does too. I can’t remember if Time of My Life did and I haven’t read The Department of Lost & Found just yet. Most books I read are about mother-daughter relationships, so this is a less touched-upon realm of chick lit.

Given the nature of the story, a lot of psychobabble is going to be evident. However, it made things confusing at times and I had to wonder what the characters were really trying to say. I mentioned in my review for her previous novel that she used the "G word" a lot and she once again uses it a lot in this novel. Aren’t there other swears that could be used in its place? Finally, it didn’t resonate well with me when Willa’s family members called her William. I know it’s her full name and the reasons behind it, but it’s clear that she wants to be called Willa and it seemed weird to hear her be called such a manly name. It didn’t really add much to the story either.

The Theory of Opposites is a story that will stick with readers long after they have turned the last page. I still find myself thinking about the main concept. All I know is that it is inspiring me to be fearless and take more risks.

I recently learned The Theory of Opposites has been picked up by Jennifer Garner’s production company, Vandalia Films, to produce a film adaptation. Of course, I was casting it in my head the entire time I was reading it and now have even more reason to share my choices. (Ahem, Hollywood…)

Willa: Hannah Simone (I saw her in a magazine photo spread recently and then pictured her in this role and it just fit.)
Theo (Willa's ex-boyfriend): Tommy Dewey (He was on some episodes of The Mindy Project and then he just popped into my head when Theo was introduced in the story.)
Shawn (Willa's husband): Ryan Gosling
Raina (Willa's older sister): Kaitlin Olson (I recently saw her in The Heat and then kept seeing her in this role.)
Ollie (Willow's brother): Darren Criss
Vanessa: Kate Hudson

Thanks to Get Red PR for the book in exchange for an honest review. They're doing a giveaway along with Allison's interview.

More by Allison Winn Scotch:


Becky said...

I love the cover, and the story plot sounds like one I would enjoy. I love that Jennifer Garner's production company may be making it into a film- makes it sound even more appealing to me.
I just finished reading a fun romance novel, "A Thousand Years of Johnny Von" by Edith M. Cortese that I think would also make a good movie. It is a fun story about a girl living in Hollywood, who walks dogs for a living- who is trying to grab the attention of a big hunky movie star living in the area. It is funny yet romantic at the same time- would make a perfect movie

Unknown said...

Oh, This is on my shelf to read. Thanks for the review.

Unknown said...

Looks fresh and fun. Great review :-). I agree, Becky. That would be the best! Love your book recommend, too!

Becky said...

Thanks Ashley!