Dante's Equation Mass Market Paperback – Mar 28 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Science and sci-fi go hand in hand in this ambitious, if not entirely successful, thriller by Jensen (Millennium Rising), which incorporates elements of Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) as well as theoretical physics. During WWII, physicist and mystic Rabbi Yosef Kobinski vanished from Auschwitz in a blinding flash of light. Kobinski left behind at the camp his Kabbalist masterpiece, The Book of Torment, to be buried for safekeeping. Half a century later, a Jerusalem rabbi and an American journalist are trying to find it. Kobinski had also discovered a mathematical theorem that accounts for good and evil in the universe. The theorem is astonishingly similar to work that Dr. Jill Talcott and her assistant Nate Andros have been doing at the University of Washington, studying the effects of energy waves on living creatures. Talcott and Andros are not yet aware of the full destructive potential of their experiments, but the government is, and its agents are soon on Talcott's trail as she takes up the search for Kobinski's manuscript. The principals ultimately find themselves gathered at the very site near Auschwitz where Kobinski disappeared, and they too are in for an otherworldly odyssey. Jensen is on surer ground describing Kabbalah and Holocaust history than she is plotting supernatural adventures, which unravel by the end. But she gets points for the innovative, multifaceted story.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Denton Wylie, a rich and charming tabloid writer, is researching an article about unexplained disappearances. Rabbi Aharon Handalman studies Kabbalah in Jerusalem and searches obsessively for "divinely implanted" coded messages in the Torah. Big, bad Calder Farris is a Marine Intelligence operative on the trail of cutting-edge scientific research that can yield new weapons technology. The ambitious young physicist Jill Talcott is secretly testing a revolutionary new theory in wave mechanics. The paths of these people converge in a search for missing pieces of a lost manuscript written at Auschwitz by a Polish rabbi, physicist, and mystic who vanished in front of witnesses 50 years ago. Modern physics and Kabbalah merge in Kobinski's manuscript, and as the four main characters pursue different aspects of the knowledge it contains, their quest delivers them deep into their own private hells. Although this genre-defying tale takes on weighty issues, Jensen's impressive mastery of fictional technique-plotting, humor, sympathetic characters, a great McGuffin, and lots of suspense-makes it feel like much lighter fare. The middle section is a bit hard to get through, but by then most readers will be hooked enough to stick around for the fitting denouement. This interesting story has obvious appeal for SF and suspense fans, but it is also an enjoyable exercise in the arcane for readers intrigued by codes, psychology, and mysticism.
Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library,
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Then there's the whole spiritual cosmology that Jensen offers, which is not only intriguing, but really makes sense. I know nothing of Kaballah (nor claim to, even after reading this book) but the tenets put forth that Jensen claims are Kaballah are extremely interesting. More than once I've brought it up in conversations with people, and they always agree that it makes a great deal of sense. Jensen provides a few charts describing this philosophy in the beginning of the book, and I referred back to it often during the novel.
My favorite character is Aharon Handalman, a Jewish rabbi who is fanatically devout to the point of coldness, but eventually finds a sense of freedom and love.
But the truth is he and maybe Denton Wyle are probably the only characters I didn't find at least a little hollow. As interesting as the premise for this book may be, there was just something missing, some element that would make the book seem more real.
"Dante's Equation" is a good read with a good premise, but not so good character development. It is still very recommendable.
But before I mention that, I'd like to address some of the elements that the previous reviewer brought up. This book is divided between four characters, each of who are written (in an excellent, albiet sometimes unbelievably extreme manner) to correspond with their atypical standard kabbalistic standing. In fact, to explain this, there's even a small diagram at the very beggining of the book that demonstraits this.
Characters come across not as steriotypes, but instead as being firm characterisations of their personality archtypes. Jensen writes these characters to focus not only on giving them believable personalities, but to epitomise the concepts in kabbalistic mythos. Although, I suppose this is easy to not understand...
And as for the comments on gay characters.. Ermm, I'm gay, and wasn't at all insulted. So I don't know what the previous reviewer was talking about with that.
Now, about the book itself. This book is an excellent exploration of hypothetical philosophy, with a vague concept of physics passed across two. The idea of physics and philosophy being one and the same is not new, it's been tackled before, but not in such a manner. Here, said philosophy takes the form of kabbalism, a form of conceptual mystical-science of jewish descent.
From this, the reader is presented (via the character of the scientist and the militant) with the idea that the philosophical concept of good and evil may be, in fact, a physical force - an equation. At the same time, two other characters (the hedonist and the religious-scholar) explore the storyline behind this discovery - the character of Kobinski, a polish jew and kabbalist scholar imprisoned in Auschwitz, who disapeared under mysterious circumstances.Read more ›
What sticks out most in my mind after finishing the book is the rampant use of stereotypes. Name an offensive character type and chances are it pops up somewhere in this book -- we have a workaholic scientist, an evil military officer only intent on furthering the interests of the state, a close-minded orthodox rabbi, and various negative portrayals of gay men. And that isn't a comprehensive list. Of course all the main characters predictably overcome their various "flaws" -- although the gay stereotypes never get rectified since there aren't any gay speaking characters only shadows with effeminate walking styles.
The yawn inducing plot only exacerbates these problems. I've read that one of Jensen's favorite authors is Michael Crichton, which shows through in Dante's Equation. Unfortunately, what makes Crichton fun to read (whatever his other faults) is that the stories are at least fathomable and somewhat believable. Dante's Equation doesn't have either quality which really hurts the reader's immersion in the book. The novel became a chore to read, one that I only completed to write this review.
I'm glad to hear that Jensen is going back to making adventure games, where her greatest talent seems to lie. Just stay away from this failure of a novel.
Most recent customer reviews
As a non-fiction reader I find it hard to stick with a novel, even if it is very good, but this book had me after the first page! Read morePublished on Feb. 14 2004 by Christiana Washington
Physicist and Kabbalah Rabbi Yosef Kobinski suddenly disappears from Auschwitz in a flash of light. No on knows what happened to the Jewish mystic. Read morePublished on Aug. 3 2003 by Harriet Klausner