Equally assured at mathematical speculation and kabbalistic cosmology, the novel is fast-paced, suspenseful and a joy from beginning to end.
Science and sci-fi go hand in hand in this ambitious, if not entirely successful, thriller by Jensen (Millennium Rising), which incorporates elements of Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) as well as theoretical physics. During WWII, physicist and mystic Rabbi Yosef Kobinski vanished from Auschwitz in a blinding flash of light. Kobinski left behind at the camp his Kabbalist masterpiece, The Book of Torment, to be buried for safekeeping. Half a century later, a Jerusalem rabbi and an American journalist are trying to find it. Kobinski had also discovered a mathematical theorem that accounts for good and evil in the universe. The theorem is astonishingly similar to work that Dr. Jill Talcott and her assistant Nate Andros have been doing at the University of Washington, studying the effects of energy waves on living creatures. Talcott and Andros are not yet aware of the full destructive potential of their experiments, but the government is, and its agents are soon on Talcott's trail as she takes up the search for Kobinski's manuscript. The principals ultimately find themselves gathered at the very site near Auschwitz where Kobinski disappeared, and they too are in for an otherworldly odyssey. Jensen is on surer ground describing Kabbalah and Holocaust history than she is plotting supernatural adventures, which unravel by the end. But she gets points for the innovative, multifaceted story. (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
This well-plotted novel pivots around The Book of Torment, a long-lost manuscript by a Jewish physicist who vanished in Auschwitz. The book postulates that good and evil are conditions embedded in the very structure of the physical universe. Supposedly after his son's death, the quantum physicist used his theory of wave mechanics to transport himselfand the Nazi who tortured and murdered his childto an alternate universe. Fast-forwarding to the present, an orthodox rabbi in Jerusalem pursues coded messages in the Torah, another physicist in Tennessee works on wave mechanics, a tabloid reporter in Florida files a sensational story, and a Marine intelligence officer seeks promising technologies to develop into new weaponry. Their paths converge in Poland, where they all are transported to alternate realities. The rabbi arrives in a cruel, credulous world where the physicist, now a government advisor, is methodically torturing the Nazi who killed his son. The Marine lands in an oppressive world at war. The tabloid reporter arrives in a wild Eden with apparently naively innocent inhabitants. The second physicist ends up in a seemingly empty city where she tries to decipher alien technology in order to return to Earth. The characters are well rounded and credible, while the fast-moving narrative keeps the reader involved with them all on the different worlds where they are trapped. Unfortunately once the alternate worlds are reached, the underlying pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo begins to annoy. One loses a "willing suspension of disbelief" but will keep on reading for the compelling narrative. This book probably will prove popular with senior high students. VOYA Codes: 3Q 4P SA/YA (Readable without serious defects; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult-marketed book recommended for Young Adults). 2003, Del Rey, 484p., Trade pb. Ages 15 to Adult.
When physicist Jill Talcott discovers an equation that coincides with the writings of Talmudic scholar and Holocaust victim Yosef Kobinski, who claimed to have identified a physical law of good and evil, she comes to the attention of government agencies seeking to make use of her discovery. Along with an Orthodox rabbi and a tabloid journalist, Talcott flees to Poland, where she and her companions embark on a mysterious journey of self-discovery beyond the boundaries of the known world. The author of Judgment Day combines hard science with esoteric mysticism to produce a compelling philosophical adventure and an astounding work of speculative fiction that belongs in all libraries. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-Denton Wylie, a rich and charming tabloid writer, is researching an article about unexplained disappearances. Rabbi Aharon Handalman studies Kabbalah in Jerusalem and searches obsessively for "divinely implanted" coded messages in the Torah. Big, bad Calder Farris is a Marine Intelligence operative on the trail of cutting-edge scientific research that can yield new weapons technology. The ambitious young physicist Jill Talcott is secretly testing a revolutionary new theory in wave mechanics. The paths of these people converge in a search for missing pieces of a lost manuscript written at Auschwitz by a Polish rabbi, physicist, and mystic who vanished in front of witnesses 50 years ago. Modern physics and Kabbalah merge in Kobinski's manuscript, and as the four main characters pursue different aspects of the knowledge it contains, their quest delivers them deep into their own private hells. Although this genre-defying tale takes on weighty issues, Jensen's impressive mastery of fictional technique-plotting, humor, sympathetic characters, a great McGuffin, and lots of suspense-makes it feel like much lighter fare. The middle section is a bit hard to get through, but by then most readers will be hooked enough to stick around for the fitting denouement. This interesting story has obvious appeal for SF and suspense fans, but it is also an enjoyable exercise in the arcane for readers intrigued by codes, psychology, and mysticism.-Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Contemporary SF thriller blending physics, mysticism, and redemption, from the author of Millennium Rising (1999). At the University of Washington, physics professor Jill Talcott is experimenting with energy waves that somehow directly influence matter and living things. Journalist Denton Wyle, obsessed by mysterious disappearances, endeavors to track down the scattered fragments of a manuscript written in 1944 in Auschwitz by Yosef Kobinski. A kabbalist and physicist of genius, Kobinski mathematically described a dimension of good and evil; not only that, but he later vanished in a flash of light in front of witnesses! In Jerusalem, rigid, self-absorbed Rabbi Aharon Handalman studies the Bible for coded messages supposedly buried in the text. Astonishingly, he finds dozens of menacing references to Kobinski and weapons. When he learns the facts about Kobinski, he wonders whether anyone today is working on similar matters. Jill's experiment, meanwhile, causes an explosion that kills dozens of innocents. This attracts Handalman's attention-and also that of Calder Farris, part of a secret Defense Department group whose purpose is to acquire possible new weapons technology and either co-opt or silence the inventors. Ambitious Jill is minded to accept Farris's job offer, until Handalman shows up and tells her about Kobinski. At the same time, Farris attempts to grab the Kobinski manuscript from Wyle. Soon, everyone will converge on the spot outside Auschwitz where Kobinski vanished-and find themselves doomed to fates at least as strange as that of Kobinski himself. Intriguing and often surprising, but what with a plot that doesn't add up and (with one exception) a nasty bunch of characters:mostly a tough slog.