He knew the way to find the right person. He should use the same approach that had always served him well: the scientific method. Use the scientific method for love. – from Love at Absolute Zero, page 30 -
Gunnar Gunderson is thirty-two years old and has just made tenure. His entire focus has been on researching the ultracold and finding a way to achieve absolute zero – a concept that is inherently impossible. Love, it seems, has also been impossible for Gunnar, a man who is brilliant when it comes to physics, but lacks a certain social awareness when it comes to people. True to his personality and belief in science, Gunnar develops a plan to find love over a three day period using the scientific method.
Others talk about destiny. Still others argue free will. Gunnar didn’t particularly like philosophy. It was too imprecise. Science was better, and he was happy with his science. – from Love at Absolute Zero, page 6 -
Love at Absolute Zero is a comic look at love from the point of view of a man completely dependent on science to view the world. Gunnar follows the play book for love: getting braces to fix the gap in his teeth, dying and cutting his hair, getting laser surgery to fix his nearsightedness, and joining a speed dating program…all within three days. But even Gunnar cannot control all the variables and when he steps on a woman’s toes, his science begins to fail him.
“I’m trying to understand the design of the smallest thing, the atom, and perhaps if I can understand that, then I can understand ordinary things like why every pen in my jar on my desk doesn’t write. Why do I keep misplacing my cell phone yet I know the integer spin of strontium atoms. Why do I know that falling in love is fun but keeping it is something else.” – from Love at Absolute Zero, page 242 -
Christopher Meeks takes his readers from Wisconsin to Denmark as Gunnar navigates the unfamiliar path to love. Gunnar’s naivety and awkwardness make him a sympathetic character, although at times I wondered could anyone really be this out of touch? Readers familiar with Meeks’ work will recognize the quirky nature of his characters who stumble through life uncovering the answers to the most basic of human questions.
In many ways, Love at Absolute Zero is perhaps the most “male” of Meeks’ work (this is his second novel after his two collections of short stories). Gunnar’s character has almost zero understanding of women and he is very focused on the sexual part of his relationship with them. I actually squirmed in my seat reading the “romantic” parts of this novel because Gunnar felt to me more on the emotional level of a teenager than a thirty-two year old man. I think it was this aspect of the novel that left me unable to fully relate to Gunnar and his dilemmas.
Readers who want a light, entertaining read along the rocky road to love, will find much to like about Meeks’ latest work. Although I think there may be women, like myself, who want to shake some sense into Gunnar’s muddled mind, I believe there will be many men who will find they are able to connect with Gunnar’s confusion about the opposite sex.
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FTC Disclosure: This book was provided to me by the author for review on my blog.