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The Theory of Everything Hardcover – July 11, 2013

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The latest in The Imaginary Veterinary series includes bonus writing, art, and science activities that will help readers discover more about its featured mythological creatures. Activities are designed for the home and the classroom. Learn more about the author, Suzanne Selfors
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 690L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Philomel Books (July 11, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399256261
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399256264
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #815,032 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 6–10—In this whimsical exploration of love and physics, achingly fantastic and symbolic visions seem to beset 14-year-old Sophie Sophia at the worst possible moments. Her real world-a new suburb in contemporary Illinois-is periodically overlaid with what might be visits to other dimensions. These episodes combine zany elements such as Sophie's favorite '80s' musicians with giant pandas, candy, and umbrellas. With a new best friend-a gay boy named Finny-and a giant panda shaman named Walt to serve as guides, Sophie returns to New York City to ask her estranged father for answers. This quirky adventure is a more accessible piece of speculative fiction than the work of Libba Bray and William Sleator. The book starts off fun and exciting with descriptions of Sophie's innovative clothing and intensely delightful episodes. However, around three quarters of the way through, it slows down when entering the resolution phase, unable to match the intrigue of the initial conflict. The sprightly dialogue and entertaining descriptions span the length of the story but don't intensify toward the end as expected. There are also some minor issues with character development as many of the relationships change and yet Sophie is the only truly dynamic one, forced to evolve by the plot elements. With some scientific content, the explanations are kept simple, perhaps lacking some of the authenticity of a more rigorous investigation of the theories the book builds upon. In the end, The Theory of Everything is a fun read with a pleasant focus on love that is heartily entertaining, even if not terribly impressive.—Erin Reilly-Sanders, Ohio State University, Columbus

From Booklist

Parallel universes with talking pandas? Sophie Sophia can deal with it. Her father is missing, and she and her mother move often, sometimes quickly, because of Sophie’s so-called “episodes.” Now settled in the small town of Havencrest, Sophie, 14, is starting over at another new school. Learning that physics-geek Finny will be her lab partner gives her hope this might be the place she finds friends. Maybe, too, her episodes will diminish, though this hope evaporates when Walt the panda and his musical band appear and begin to inspire her to look closer at certain details. Although her mother fears Sophie is suffering from mental illness, Sophie, with Finny’s help, sets out to prove her father’s string theory of parallel universes. The spunky teens’ unaccompanied 20-hour train ride to New York City is a bit far-fetched, but Luna develops it into a funny, poignant, and productive trek. In this blend of realism, science fiction, and fantasy, Sophie learns about love, acceptance, and how to control her travel episodes. But still—will those talking pandas return? Grades 7-10. --J. B. Petty

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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This is one of those books I MUST PUT ON THE SHELVES!
Kindle Customer
"The Theory of Everything" has established Luna as a wizard of YA sci-fi and fantasy.
Nicholas Belardes
All in all, an emotionally authentic story, with its own unique sense of whimsy.
James H. Maguire

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas Belardes on September 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Luna's debut novel "The Theory of Everything" is a story adolescents and teens can easily jump into, digest and start exploring for its various topics worthy of classroom discussion: are today's modern-day love letters really just playlists on iPods and Spotify? Is science magical? And what about string theory? Is there any application of the idea for today other than theoretical explorations and sci-fi movies?

Are goodbyes really hellos because time isn't what we think it is?

The story's cross-dimensional traveling Panda, Walt, is the novel's most endearing character. A glutton for food and whimsical behavior, he guides Sophie's path, which is on a crash course for a wake-up call regarding her mysterious scientist father, a character revealed in flashbacks and lyrics within '80s mixtapes.

"The Theory of Everything" has established Luna as a wizard of YA sci-fi and fantasy. I'm hoping her next novel either takes Sophie further into other spatial-dimensions (maybe into the shaman Panda high council lair itself), or at least continues with the idea that magic and science both mix well for young and old imaginations alike.
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Format: Hardcover
The Theory of Everything, Kari Luna's debut novel, has definitely put her on my radar. It's an emotional, fun-filled story full of fabulous characters, sweet romance, and wonderful family dynamics.

It can't be easy seeing things (especially a giant shaman panda) but Sophie Sophia is used to it. She can't escape the things she sees but she's mostly learned to live with them. This crazy life makes Sophie a very quirky character. She has this awesomely unique way of looking at life and a personality that never dulls or fades. She doesn't let anything bring her down. She reminded me a lot of Lola from Lola and the Boy Next Door with her quirky attitude and fabulous sense of style.

Then there were her few friends, Finny and Drew. Finny accepted Sophie from the start, no matter how odd she seemed. He was such a good friend to Sophie through everything. And he was a totally awesome science nerd! Then there was Drew who was a little more than just a friend to Sophie. He was so sweet! He had a harder time accepting Sophie's problems than Finny but he did accept her. They were adorable together.

The science aspects weren't my favorite things about The Theory of Everything but they were not boring. I'm not a fan of physics but every physics reference was explained and easy to understand.

The family dynamics in The Theory of Everything were very different from regular YA family dynamics. Sophie's mom knows what is going on with Sophie and all she wants is to help her. She's always there for Sophie and plays a huge part in her life. Sophie's dad isn't present physically but he does have a role in helping Sophie learn about her "episodes" and learning how to grow.

Overall, The Theory of Everything is a fabulous read, unlike anything already out there. It will take you on an emotional roller coaster and will leave you smiling long after you've turned the last page.
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Format: Hardcover
Why I Loved It: I'm not quite sure I've ever read anything quite like The Theory of Everything. I was going through my summer galleys that I had not gotten to due to my summer of crazy gypsying, and this one jumped out at me. I mean for one the combo of pink and a huge panda on the cover just screams read me please. This is one of those books I MUST PUT ON THE SHELVES!

In this book, I met a girl named Sophie Sophia who has just moved to yet another town. This new girl to town has a secret though. A pretty big one actually. She sees things that no one else sees. Like pandas in marching bands and cafeterias turning into one big music video and the sky raining baby bears. Yep. It's crazy, but it also makes this book incredibly fun and quirky. This book accomplishes the whole "this could never happen but let's have fun with it, shall we?" philosophy quite well.

Sophie's dad was a famous physicist, and he also saw things that weren't there. Sophie, with the help of her super awesome best friend and physics nerd Finny, is trying to figure out what in the world is going on with her, how to fix it, and how to reconnect with her dad. Of course such a mission does land her in New York City (of course), and it seems like this adventure is going to twist and turn the whole way. The book has some interesting quirk around every corner that makes reading the book a super fun ride.

The book also has some amazing things like a focus on mixtapes, 80's music mixed with some new, awesome fashion, and the physics in the book takes on a artsy kind of feel that only comes from exploring what it means to love. The Theory of Everything has everything my heart desires from parallel universes, appeasement for my inner nerd, and some amazing music selections.
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Format: Hardcover
Sometimes you read a book and the whole time you're reading that book you feel like you're locking elbows with the main character and skipping around the neighborhood with them. No? That's just me? That's okay. I'm a little different. And so is Sophie Sofia, the main character in Kari Luna's spectacular debut novel, THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING.

Sophie Sofia is the daughter of a brilliant physicist who has disappeared so often that when it becomes a sort of forever thing -- as in Sophie's mom has moved them first to San Francisco and now to suburban Illinois -- Sophie has to accept that maybe her dad might not be the good guy she always thought he was. She remembers amazing times with him. Building things. Going to the zoo instead of school. Playing games. But what kind of a dad would abandon his family?

Here's the other thing about Sophie's dad: he sees things. Has episodes. And when he disappears, he's not participating in the reality that everyone else is. Now Sophie is starting to experience this, too, which has lead her and her mother to this new town which isn't even close to Chicago (a real city!) and which still isn't Brooklyn (home). The good news is, despite stage diving into the popular girls' lunch table during a very Ramones episode, Sophie is making friends. And a guy might even like her. The bad news is, she's starting to have recurring episodes. As in, a shaman Panda named Walt that only she can see. And Walt seems to think he can guide her down a path that will solve everything, with a little help from string theory and a lot of help from her new BFF Finny.

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING is beautiful and exciting and hilarious. And it's also sad. Like, have-some-tissues-ready sad.
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More About the Author

Kari Luna has seen the world from behind a Hammond organ, through the lens of a commercial camera, and from the top of a Swiss Chalet. Kari's debut YA novel, THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING, was described by as "a world we would like to drop everything and start living in right this minute." It was also named ABA's Fall 2013 New Voices Pick and won the 2014 Oregon Book Award for Young Adult Literature.

Kari is currently working on other stories not featuring shaman pandas but promises they will be just as surprising. She lives in Portland, Oregon where she's also a freelance creative director, copywriter, and whimsicologist. Visit her and her sidekick, Petey Sellers, at or @wordette on Twitter.

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