Book Review: Psalms for the End of the World by Cole Haddon

About the Book:

It’s 1962 and physics student Grace Pulansky believes she has met the man of her dreams, Robert Jones, while serving up slices of pecan pie at the local diner. But then the FBI shows up, with their fedoras and off-the-rack business suits, and accuses him of being a bomb-planting mass-murderer.

Finding herself on the run with Jones across America’s Southwest, the discoveries awaiting Gracie will undermine everything she knows about the universe. Her story will reveal how scores of lives – an identity-swapping rock star, a mourning lover in ancient China, Nazi hunters in pursuit of a terrible secret, a crazed artist in pre-revolutionary France, an astronaut struggling with a turbulent interplanetary future, and many more – are interconnected across space and time by love, grief, and quantum entanglement.

Spanning continents, centuries, and dimensions, this exquisitely crafted and madly inventive novel – a triple-disk, concept-album of a book – is a profound yet propulsive enquiry into the nature of reality.

Published by Hachette Australia

Released August 2022

My Thoughts:

‘He believed he could build a world, a perfect world, and that ridiculous arrogance, born of a need to overturn the sense of inadequacy and unimportance, of crippling fear that he was nothing and would never be more than nothing, was his undoing. The Company didn’t ruin Jones. Jones ruined Jones. And here he was again, take two, trying to remake the world yet again, and very likely about to mess it up as badly as he did the first time around. Fear is still driving his every decision. In the end, the world he was first born into isn’t much different from this one. He’s never felt such kinship with humans before. Life is life, as it turns out, however it begins, and fear is the high price of living.’

For such a complex novel, I found this incredibly easy to get swept up into. I can’t say that I always knew what was going on and why a particular character had been introduced, but by the end, everything made sense. In that vein, this is very much a story where you just need to almost exist within the moment and trust that the author is taking you somewhere magnificent.

It’s an impossible story to explain. There are many characters, so many, all existing across time and place. The story has time travel, inter-dimensional worlds, science fiction elements and a dystopian lens, and yet, it’s also historical fiction, contemporary fiction, futuristic, poetic, and uses a variety of formats to tell the overall story. This is an impressively unique and ambitious novel; it really is quite remarkable. And in the end, it all came down to love. A very different sort of love story, but a love story, nonetheless.

Highly recommended for readers who like complex, intelligent, and visionary stories that challenge the usual genre conventions.

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

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