Reviews for The Unseen World

by Liz Moore

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

In her third novel, Moore (Heft) delivers a striking examination of family, memory, and technology. Leaping from the 1980s to the early 2000s, this is the story of young Ada Sibelius and her brilliant computer scientist father, David, who runs a lab at a prestigious college in Boston, working to develop a lifelike artificial intelligence program, ELIXIR. Ada is being raised nontraditionally-educated by David and his lab colleagues, treated as one of the team, without kid gloves-but when David begins showing signs of Alzheimer's, her life is upended. She is sent to a local junior high school, where she is forced to interact with children her own age, and when David can no longer remain unsupervised, she is taken in by Diana Liston, David's closest associate. Moore's exploration of David's decline is remarkable and heartbreaking, and she shifts gears deftly as the story is complicated further: when Liston tries to become Ada's legal guardian, questions about David's identity arise. Since David can no longer answer for himself, Ada takes charge and tries to unravel her father's cryptic past, leading to the discovery of a hidden file, titled "The Unseen World," on David's computer. Mysteries build, and Moore's gift for storytelling excels. This is a smart, emotionally powerful literary page-turner. (July) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* The mystery that's at the heart of this intelligent and brilliantly absorbing novel is one that dogs Ada Sibelius for decades: Who is her father, David Sibelius, really? A brilliant, quirky computer scientist, pioneering cutting-edge research at one of Boston's leading technical institutions, or a fraud masquerading under a borrowed identity? For a while, the answer to this question threatens to make or break the very foundation that Ada's life is built on, as an only child, rigorously homeschooled, as someone for whom no life existed outside of David. As David slips away to Alzheimer's and Ada's custody falls to one of his close lab colleagues, the question of David's identity surfaces and looms large, casting a shadow over everything that Ada holds to be true about her father and making her teen years and their associated milestones of early crushes and school dramas even more challenging. Filled with achingly memorable scenes (the first time David disappears, leaving Ada alone for more than a day is a heartbreaker) and beautifully nuanced writing, Moore's (Heft, 2012) latest is a stunner in its precise take on identity and the compromises even the most righteous among us must make to survive life's challenges with grace.--Apte, Poornima Copyright 2016 Booklist

Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Moore's third and perhaps most ambitious novel (after Heft and The Words of Every Song) is large in scope, as it explores the philosophical issues surrounding human vs. computer consciousness, but it is also a small-scale, powerfully local story about a young girl. The details of Ada Sibelius's day-to-day life in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood, homeschooled by her genius father, carry this narrative. She is forced to grow up fast, helping her father and his team at a computer science lab, and caring for him as he suffers from early-onset Alzheimer's. As his health and memory rapidly decline, she discovers her parent was not who he said he was, and with the help of a private investigator and a local librarian, learns more about him and his sacrifices than he would ever share with her. The story also flashes forward to the present and near future, when Ada is working for a tech company to produce a virtual reality world. VERDICT Moore's vivid characters will stay with readers long after the story has ended. Highly recommended for literary fiction enthusiasts, with crossover appeal to sf fans. [See Prepub Alert, 12/7/15.]-Kate Gray, Boston P.L., MA Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.