Review and Question-A Working Theory of Love by Scott Hutchins

Title: A Working Theory of Love

A working Theory of Love
Genre: Literary Fiction
Author: Scott Hutchins
Publisher: Penguin, 2012
Source: Free for Review from Amazon Vine Program
Rating: 2
Sexy Rating: 0- alluded to, behind closed doors
Description from
Settled back into the San Francisco singles scene following the implosion of his young marriage just months after the honeymoon, Neill Bassett is going
through the motions. His carefully modulated routine, however, is soon disrupted in ways he can’t dismiss with his usual nonchalance.

When Neill’s father committed suicide ten years ago, he left behind thousands of pages of secret journals, journals that are stunning in their detail, and, it must be said, their complete banality. But their spectacularly quotidian details, were exactly what artificial intelligence company Amiante Systems was looking for, and Neill was able to parlay them into a job, despite a useless degree in business marketing and absolutely no experience in computer science. He has spent
the last two years inputting the diaries into what everyone hopes will become the world’s first sentient computer. Essentially, he has been giving it language—using his father’s words. Alarming to Neill—if not to the other employees of Amiante—the experiment seems to be working. The computer actually appears to be gaining awareness and, most disconcerting of all, has started asking questions about Neill’s childhood.

Amid this psychological turmoil, Neill meets Rachel. She was meant to be a one-night stand, but Neill is unexpectedly taken with her and
the possibilities she holds. At the same time, he remains preoccupied by unresolved feelings for his ex-wife, who has a talent for appearing at the most unlikely and unfortunate times. When Neill discovers a missing year in the diaries—a year that must hold some secret to his parents’ marriage and perhaps even his father’s suicide—everything Neill thought he knew about his past comes into question, and every move forward feels impossible to make.

With a lightness of touch that belies pitch-perfect emotional control, Scott Hutchins takes us on an odyssey of love, grief, and reconciliation that shows us how, once we let go of the idea that we’re trapped by our own sad histories—our childhoods, our bad decisions, our miscommunications with those we love—we have the chance to truly be free. A Working Theory of Love marks the electrifying debut of a prodigious new talent.
Okay, if you’ve read the above blurb then you don’t have to read this book. I like the premise of geeks and non-geeks developing artificial intelligence and having a relationship with the computer. Interesting, for sure. But in this book from page 30 I said to myself, “Where is this going.” Then as I read on and on and on I repeated that phrase like a mantra until I finished (yes, I did read the whole thing) and I was still stating the same phrase.
I thought the protagonist was unlikable. His on again off again girlfriend much too young for him although now that I think about it they were probably quite close on the maturity level. The shallowness of every character annoyed me. Perhaps I’m just too old for all of the “finding oneself” nonsense. Scott Hutchins can write characterizations well, perhaps all that I disliked was what he intended.
An aside comment and a question:

I don’t read too many books by male authors where there is a running theme of romance/love. Most of the ones I read are written by women with a woman’s sensibility. I’ve noticed that when men write love it is often very clinical, not in the sexual way although that does happen, but in a remote, kind of uninvolved, unemotional way. Am I the only one to notice this? What do you think?


Filed under Book review, Books, Opinion

3 responses to “Review and Question-A Working Theory of Love by Scott Hutchins

  1. I must admit I’ve never read any romance/love themed books written by male authors. If this is an example, perhaps I’ve had a lucky escape! LOL!


  2. Edyta

    When I do read male authors it’s not ever a romance of any sort. When there are romantic elements, I agree, they are not done well.


    • Thanks for the comment, Edyta. I was beginning to think I was just being sexist in this observation. I think I ought to read a Nicholas Spark book and see if he is better at it than what I’ve read so far.


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