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Speculation Kindle Edition
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Revealing too much of the plot would spoil the fun, but the author is clearly thinking big, and swinging for the fences. Highly recommended!
Jorgensen's characters are fully figured, and you'll learn new things about each of them, almost up to the last page. Their motivations are complex and often un-speak-able; if the synopsis --- if the idea of being offered an envelope or $10 million --- doesn't excite you, if you wouldn't at least hesitate if you were tendered that choice, then the choices the characters make will be unfathomable.
You will need that spark of curiosity to enjoy Speculation, but you don't need to be a historian of philosophy. The writing is very kind when it comes to academic subjects --- and it comes to them frequently. Jorgensen neither prattles, boring readers well acquainted with his subject, nor does he ignore readers who are unfamiliar. His explanations are short, breathless, and give no sign of showing off --- each idea, present because it is necessary, is explored exactly as far as necessary, and no further than necessary.
It would be a pleasant book at any price; at *this* price, there is no question: if the synopsis has you intrigued, buy it. You'll not feel you wasted any time in Speculation.
One of the most intriguing aspects of this book is its narrator's deep admiration of Sothum and Sothum's apparent genius, which colors his narration a great deal, constantly calling into question exactly how Sothum may have seen things. Though I've never looked much into philosophy myself, the narrator's love for Sothum and philosophy was so infectious that I found myself falling in love with the two, as well. Jorgensen uses elevated language and draws heavily on philosophical theory throughout, appropriate for the narrator's profession as a professor of philosophy. As Emily Summer, an online blogger pointed out in her own review, despite these references, the story remains easy to follow, even for someone such as myself who lacks any previous instruction in philosophy. An unexpected switch in narration later in the story reveals a great wealth of information that had, in its previous absence, begun to itch at me. This sudden shift was immensely satisfying to read through, especially due to its depth and thoroughness. All questions which were raised in the first half of the novel are neatly answered, most all loose ends tied up aside from those "just let it be" moments, and the end of the novel comes not too soon nor too late. This is exactly the type of book for an audience looking for thought-provoking questions, inspired language, and a look into what the mind of a genius might be like, though not necessarily an audience interested in the solving of a mystery.
Most of the criticism that I've encountered directed toward this book was due to its being called a mystery while bearing little resemblance to other mystery literature. It has little going for it in the way of uncovering clues, and far more of the narrator reflecting on his shared past with Sothum and Buddy, describing his relationships with the two, and the denouement is markedly different from one you might expect from a typical mystery. In Speculation, its resolution all comes in a large wave of information contained in three chapters toward the end, a story all its own with added complexity that would be scarcely hinted at beforehand. Joe Ponepinto posted on the literary review website "The Los Angeles Review" described one of the possible flaws of this book as being "heavy on backstory and short on forward momentum," though adding "even these aspects of the book could be considered accurate reflections of the philosopher's world." This supposed flaw is more dependent on the tastes of the reader, however, and not necessarily a reflection of anything lacking from the author. The most apparent flaw I took note of was that it is very cerebral and and very different from what is popular in current world of popular literature, but again this is more of a reflection on the taste of its readership. The second flaw was a rather nit-picky one: I didn't pick up on the narrator's name very easily or early on, and because it's rarely referenced I barely remembered it. Though perhaps this assisted in immersing myself in the story and imagining my being in place of the narrator, whose name happens to be Andrew (or Andy, as he is called by Sothum).
Overall, I highly recommend this book, especially if you are looking for something that will make you think and delight you. I had a very difficult time putting it down, and it's a serious page-turner.