The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak – Brian Katcher – Katherine Tegen Books – Published 19 May 2015
It all begins when Ana Watson’s little brother, Clayton, secretly ditches the quiz bowl semifinals to go to the Washingcon sci-fi convention on what should have been a normal, résumé-building school trip.
If slacker Zak Duquette hadn’t talked up the geek fan fest so much, maybe Clayton wouldn’t have broken nearly every school rule or jeopardized Ana’s last shot at freedom from her uptight parents.
Now, teaming up with Duquette is the only way for Ana to chase down Clayton in the sea of orcs, zombies, bikini-clad princesses, Trekkies, and Smurfs. After all, one does not simply walk into Washingcon.
But in spite of Zak’s devil-may-care attitude, he has his own reasons for being as lost as Ana-and Ana may have more in common with him than she thinks. Ana and Zak certainly don’t expect the long crazy night, which begins as a nerdfighter manhunt, to transform into so much more…
A book set almost completely at a comic convention. Tick. A story where the characters get together over one night and it doesn’t read as insta-love. Check. Hilarious moment after twist after timely disaster. Tick, tick, tick. A book you just have to devour in one go. Check. Basically this book is just completely awesome. It was a book I needed, the perfect mix of humour, geeky references and crazy.
Ana’s life is perfectly planned down to the last detail. It has to be to keep her super-strict parents happy (and they really are crazy, down-right scary strict). Archery, debating, quiz bowl. Ana doesn’t have time to have fun (read: isn’t allowed).
Zak is still mourning the death of his father. The presence of his stepfather is repulsive to Zak, especially when he tries to bond over macho activities such as tossing the football and playing pool. Zak is more into comics and Dungeon and Dragons. He lives for the comic convention held in Seattle each year. So when his school advisor (sorry, he has one of those?) tells him he must attend the Quiz Bowl Championships as credit for the health class he is failing, Zak is horrified to discover the date clashes with the comic convention.
The majority of this book takes place over a 24-hour period at the Washingcon. How many books have I read that take place over a short amount of time that I didn’t like because they felt so rushed, so unrealistic??? This book is nothing like that. It is perfectly timed. And while the many crazy and unexpected twists and turns might be slightly unrealistic, they are perfect for the plot. I’m not sure if I am now desperate to attend a comic convention or turned off them for good! The huge amount of references to movies, books, and comics is brilliant, though I have to admit a few went over my head. And there is a backstory. Hooray! The characters actually have lives outside of their relationship with each other. It’s a miracle! The backstory provides a solemn touch to what is a throw-back-your-head-and-laugh funny book. Completely un-put-down-able. The writing style and the characters really make this book what it is. And that leads me to..
Zak and Ana have an awe-distain relationship from the start (more of the distain on Ana’s side, really). Zak and Ana are the perfect mix of snark and good humour. Ana comes across a little judgemental, but it works, it so works. Both Zak and Ana read as realistic teens, sometimes a little harsh and still learning. Zak is more than just the goofy, slacker geek joking his way through a cozy life and Ana is a lot more than an overachieving snob. It just takes a blood-thirsty Viking, a crazy manhunt and a horde of zombies for them to look past the labels and stereotypes. Theirs really develops as a love-hate relationship. The best thing about this book is how their ‘love’ story gradually progresses over the one night. No it’s definitely not insta-love, I promise. And the focus of the story isn’t on their romance, too much other crazy stuff is happening for that. It’s just a great accompaniment to a very enjoyable story.
Are you a fan of comics and geeky films? Secretly want to dress up as a wookiee? Want to escape your life of restrictions and boundaries? Well this is the book for you.
Category: Young adult fiction
Themes: Family, relationships, siblings, comics, film, romance, social structures.
Age guide: Ages 13 and up.
Advisory: Infriquent coarse language, s***, f***. Some general sexual references. Low level violence, characters get beaten up, some description of blood, threats of violence.
Published: 19 May 2015 by Katherine Tegen Books
Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook. 336 pages.