Miss Entropia and the Adam Bomb by George Rabasa

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Miss Entropia and the Adam Bomb
"Some odd people are not meant to fit into the world but to make the world fit us. We are sane only when we embrace our weirdness. We free ourselves to be artists and teachers and preachers. When we refuse to be straightened out, the world bends by small degrees in our direction."

At fourteen, Adam Webb is again sent back to Institute Loiseaux, a school-of-sorts for young mental patients, "clients" rather as the institute insists on using. Adam had already been there twice and is not surprised when he is sent there a third time - the hints have not been missed by his keenly observing mind. This time though, when Happy Harley, the van driver comes to get him, Adam convinces him to let him ride shotgun as they make their way to pick another client - a girl named Francine, who only answers to the name Miss Entropia. The girl however doesn't come easily and once Harley gets her tied at the back of the van, Adam locks all the doors from the inside so that Harley is locked out. This begins a strange kinship and a fiery love relationship between the two that starts with a one-night adventure as they camp out at a mall parking lot, manage to indulge in shoplifting, make possible Adam's first sexual experience, thus resulting in an intense bonding between them.

This story is narrated from Adam's perspective, whose mind makes for a really interesting residence for the reader. Adam is clever, intuitive and sarcastically funny. He successfully second-guesses the drift of other people's thoughts, which makes for very hilarious observations of what's normal and what's not. When Adam's not being as sane as you and me, he is obsessing over the goddess Kali or that most singular and momentous night of his life with Pia. And his obsessions slowly take him to pondering the might and power of the goddess, seeing her in his pancakes, imagining her talking to him and trying to impose his control on people and things. (I noticed the many arms in the cover only when I was writing this review. I can't insist how very apt the cover is - the goddess Kali does have many arms, and it seemed to me how Adam would have approved of it.)

I have to admit - it was very easy to forget Adam's "illness". His is a very easy person to get used to be being with. I loved how this indicated that insanity is a very gray area. The mind can rarely be classified by a black and white scale of normalcy. Besides, Adam was just another teenager pining for love. Most of the time. Pia, the object of his affections, is also highly clever, good at guessing other people's intentions, with her chief weakness being a fascination with fire. Not the harmless kind but the incendiary kind meant to damage and destroy. When her family house is burned out, she is the main suspect, except she keeps insisting that she was at school.

Miss Entropia and the Adam Bomb starts out funny and at some point in between, transforms its tone, giving way to an increasingly dark and disturbing narrative. Adam and Pia do not see each other for three years following the mall parking lot camping, but when Adam does find her again, it results in an addiction in him - for Pia. This time, he wants her to stay with him. As his little secret. I found it interesting how George Rabasa demonstrates the unraveling of Adam Webb's mind. It's really not that obvious - Adam's still funny but it's clear that Pia's presence and actions are unnerving him. Our clever Adam however manages to keep her under his control - not letting her out of his sight, and yet the reader is fooled initially. The control is not what I saw first but one misfit helping the other misfit fit in to a world that really doesn't fit them.

For all the darkness in this novel, it was a very addicting read. Much as Adam disturbed me later, he was a charming person. Pia was just as endearing, even with her attraction to fire and her penchant for adventures with fire and pills. The supporting cast in this book - Adam's father, mother, brother Ted, cousin Iris, make for a motley group who all have their own eccentricities that feel stranger beside Adam's "issues". This book showed well how a normal person can still be strange and how a mentally ill person can be sane.

This was a really wonderful book. Even though Adam's family do not make such a huge impact to the storyline, I wish the book had more to add to their story. Even in spite of the disturbing elements, this is at the core a story of teenage angst and love, featuring a pair of misfits. Add in some mental illnesses, and you have a very interesting drama to read about.

I received this book for free for review from the publisher via NetGalleyMiss Entropia and the Adam Bomb is being released today (April 5th). Check it out on the publisher's pageGoodreadsAmazon and Barnes and Noble. To visit the author's website, click here.


16 comments:

Misha said...

Being a student of Psychology, books like these interest me. Miss Entropia and the Adam Bomb seems like an interesting take on mental illness. I will requesting this book on Netgalley. Thanks for the review!

bermudaonion (Kathy) said...

This sounds like it takes the reader on one heck of a ride! It's on my wishlist.

hcmurdoch said...

Books that can really get inside a character's head and allow the reader to experience life from a different view point are always impressive. One that I recommend to students often is the Incident of the Dog at Midnight

Niranjana Iyer said...

I don't think this book is exactly my thing...but what a great title! LOVE IT!

Melody Spano said...

I won this book via LibraryThing's Early Reviewers and am so excited to start reading it! Funny--I didn't notice the arms on the cover either. The publisher (Unbridled Books) is becoming a new favorite of mine...the few books books of theirs I've read have been great.

Young1 said...

Sounds like a great book - something with hidden meanings maybe. Great review :D

Athira / Aths said...

I love books that deal with the mind. They can be disturbing sometimes, but it's intriguing how much of our personality resides in there and what all it's capable of - good and bad. I can't wait to hear your thoughts!

Athira / Aths said...

I can't wait to hear what you think of it, Kathy! It was definitely a wonderful ride!

Athira / Aths said...

I have heard of that one, but didn't know much of it. Since you recommend it, I'm going to add it to my wishlist. I love books that let you get inside a character.

Athira / Aths said...

I'm with you on the title. I also thought that outrageous cover was really fantabulous!

Athira / Aths said...

I can't wait to hear your thoughts on this book. I love Unbridled Books too - I've enjoyed many of their books.

Athira / Aths said...

Yeah - there's a lot of takeaways from this book. So many interpretations. This book is definitely worth being a book club read!

Bibliophilebythesea said...

This is a new to me title, that sounds promising. Nice review Aths.

Lisa said...

This one's an Unbridled book, isn't it? They never disappoint me. Even if I don't love the book, they always make me think, they're always unique, they always have some wonderful writing.

Athira / Aths said...

Thanks!

Athira / Aths said...

Yep, it's from Unbridled Books! They are yet to disappoint me! I agree with you that their books leave me thinking too!