By: Ted Kosmatka Twitter
Release Date: July 21, 2015
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
I really enjoyed reading The Flicker Men by Ted Kosmatka. It’s a fast paced science-fiction thriller about a washed out scientist with a serious drinking problem who suffers from depression, and has a family history ripe with suicide and mental instability. An old friend presents him with second chance, a new job – a research position with three months to produce some kind of results – Eric has no intent on keeping. Then the unthinkable happens. His recreation of the famous double-slit experiment actually produces new results, and not everyone is happy with them. This book will have you on the edge of your seat. When I’d finished the book it immediately went into the ‘must re-read later’ pile. (Metaphorically, as I’d checked this out from the library).
The Flicker Men delves into some hardcore science. Quantum physics isn’t anything to sneeze at, and the double-slit experiment is very central to the plot. But it never felt confusing to me, and I never got bogged down trying to decipher the science behind the story. Everything you need to know is relayed by the author, and done so fairly well. The story never stops to dump all the info on the reader. Instead, everything is relayed in conversation between Eric and his fellow scientists, many of whom are not physicists themselves, and on an as-needed basis. (And as I edit this review I realize that, technically, that can be considered infodumping, in a sense. However, it didn’t feel like that at the time.)[/dropcap]Now for the characters.
Eric Argus. Our narrator. Our protagonist. I loved Eric in all his flawed wonderfulness. He had some very real issues in depression and drinking, had a lot of childhood trauma he’d never worked through. Eric was a fantastic character to experience the story through, and I rooted for him all the way. I love an unreliable narrator, and I feel like this strayed into that territory at times. Even Eric questions his own mental state. I liked even better how he changed through the course of the story, perhaps not completely overcoming his vices and downfalls, but making the effort both consciously and, at times, unconsciously to do so.
There were several secondary character’s which featured rather prominently throughout the novel as well. The scientists who worked with Eric were lovable, bursting with personality and quirks. Unfortunately, not all of these other characters weren’t fully developed, remaining interesting characters with quirky habits, but not fully coming into their own. Still, the majority of them remained very memorable nonetheless.
At the end of the day, yeah. I absolutely recommend this book. If you like thrillers give The Flicker Men a try, but be prepared for some real science. If you like science-fiction, go for it!
You enjoy fast paces science fiction, you enjoy thrillers, you like deeply flawed characters
Don't Read If:
You don’t want to bother with quantum physics, even a single underdeveloped character is enough to make you tear your hair out