the unseen world book coverReviewed by Carrie Ardoin

I was a huge fan of Liz Moore’s previous novel, Heft, and gave it five stars. I was excited at the prospect of reading another offering from her, but for me the things I loved and raved about in her last book are not present in the latest novel, The Unseen World.

At its’ heart, The Unseen World is a book about the bond between father and daughter, and the secrets each of them hold. Some are life changing, while others are imagined to be significantly worse than they truly are.

The book begins with 12 year old Ada and her father, David, hosting their annual party for her dad’s computer laboratory graduate students. It seems a happy moment and another successful year of their favorite tradition, but by the end of the night Ada can tell that something is different with David. It’s not long before his brilliant mind and his health begin to swiftly decline. Ada, who worshiped her father as her hero and mentor, resents him for hiding his condition and forcing her to live without him–as well as leaving her a seemingly unsolvable puzzle that will reveal integral truths to her.

At nearly 500 pages, this book is a weighty one. In my opinion, there were many sections, backstories, and passages that could have been left out without the story feeling incomplete. We do meet a lot of characters throughout the novel, but we don’t need to know so much about each one.

Usually I don’t mind having the truth a character is hiding come out throughout the course of a novel, but what was learned in The Unseen World seemed to drag on and on and then still a good amount of book was left after it was found out. Again, just one of the ways the book seemed to be too long for me.

I wish there would have been more connection between the characters. Even between Ada and David, father and daughter who are the focus of the story, I didn’t feel there was as incredible a relationship as the author wanted it to be. I didn’t quite feel the way for the characters that I should have, I wasn’t cheering with or crying for them.

The ending of The Unseen World wrapped up everyone’s tale nicely, but still seemed to leave things on a sad note. I might have liked it better if I hadn’t read the epilogue. I do wish I had liked this novel as much as Liz Moore’s other work, but it largely fell flat for me.

Carrie runs the blog Sweet Southern Home, and is a stay at home wife and mom to one little boy. When she’s not reading, she’s usually watching Netflix with her husband, playing outside with her son, or baking. Her family would describe her as sometimes annoyingly sarcastic, but mostly lovable. 

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by W.W. Norton & Company. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.