Zenn Diagram – Wendy Brant – Kids Can Press – Published 4 April 2017
Eva Walker is a seventeen-year-old math genius. And if that doesn’t do wonders for her popularity, there’s another thing that makes it even worse: when she touches another person or anything that belongs to them — from clothes to textbooks to cell phones — she sees a vision of their emotions. She can read a person’s fears and anxieties, their secrets and loves … and what they have yet to learn about calculus. This is helpful for her work as a math tutor, but it means she can never get close to people. Eva avoids touching anyone and everyone. People think it’s because she’s a clean freak — with the emphasis on freak — but it’s all she can do to protect herself from other people’s issues.
Then one day a new student walks into Eva’s life. His jacket gives off so much emotional trauma that she falls to the floor. Eva is instantly drawn to Zenn, a handsome and soulful artist who also has a troubled home life, and her feelings only grow when she realizes that she can touch Zenn’s skin without having visions. But when she discovers the history that links them, the truth threatens to tear the two apart.
For some reason I knew I would love Zenn Diagram. Something about the synopsis just hit me and I knew I had to read it. Math genius – check. Paranormal abilities – check. Dark, foreboding secrets – check. And yet it surprised me by being even better than I imagined. It was a combination of everything I love in a YA romance.
Eva is a math genius. But she also has another talent she isn’t so open about. When she touches people or their things she gets flashes of their feelings. She calls them fractals because (insert a complicated math explanation that I’ll leave to Eva to explain here). So Eva has learnt to keep her hands to herself. It has limited her social interactions and greatly increased her notoriety as a weirdo. But that’s okay, because Eva has a good family, a great friend and she can use her gift/curse to help find the solution to anyone’s trouble with math. It makes her a good tutor. But Eva lastest student makes her wish for the impossible – an uncomplicated relationship, a chance to touch and be touched, to have someone see her. But one accidental brush against Zenn’s jacket gives Eva the impression that Zenn has dark and haunting secrets.
There is a lot to like about this story. The writing style for starters, which is instantly likeable and so easy to sink into. And a protagonist who is realistic and unique. I loved that Eva isn’t jaded by her past, is happy to be herself, and openly acknowledges her flaws and likes herself despite and even because of them.
The story is light in some aspects and yet grounded in real-life issues. In fact, I was very surprised by the twist this story took. I didn’t see that coming! Zenn Diagram features a friendship that is strong, despite the hits it takes; family relationships that are flawed and loving (and four very cute three-year-old quadruplets certainly bring joy and cuteness to the family scenes); and just the touch of magic, a paranormal aspect that only heightens the other stories in this book. I loved the mix of hope and realism. I loved the strength of the romance story, balanced by a story of a girl’s journey into adulthood.
Zenn Diagram is an easy YA contemporary romance in which to delight and enjoy.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Mathematics, family, paranormal abilities, romance, friendship, dating, relationships, sex, college, high school, adoption, coming of age.
Reading age guide: Ages 14 and up.
Advisory: Sexual references and implied sex scene. Coarse language, f***, sh**, sl**.
Published: 4 April 2017 by Kids Can Press.
Format: Hardcover, ebook. 336 pages.