Ada Sibelius is raised by David, her brilliant, eccentric, socially inept single father, who directs a computer science lab in 1980s-era Boston. Home-schooled, Ada accompanies David to work every day; by twelve, she is a painfully shy prodigy.Read more...
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Ada Sibelius is raised by David, her brilliant, eccentric, socially inept single father, who directs a computer science lab in 1980s-era Boston. Home-schooled, Ada accompanies David to work every day; by twelve, she is a painfully shy prodigy. The lab begins to gain acclaim at the same time that David's mysterious history comes into question. When his mind begins to falter, leaving Ada virtually an orphan, she is taken in by one of David's colleagues. Soon she embarks on a mission to uncover her father's secrets: a process that carries her from childhood to adulthood. What Ada discovers on her journey into a virtual universe will keep the reader riveted until The Unseen World's heart-stopping, fascinating conclusion.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-05-16
- Reviewer: Staff
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)
A father's legacy and secrets in the information age
In The Unseen World, Liz Moore’s third novel, the Philadelphia-based author invites us into the unpredictable world of 12-year old Ada Sibelius and her brilliant, socially inept father, David, who works in a computer science lab in Boston. When Ada’s father goes missing, she is led down a difficult path to discover his true past. Toggling between the early computing world of the 1980s and a San Francisco tech start-up in 2009, the novel follows the development of intelligent technology—from early language programming to modern-day virtual reality simulations—effortlessly fusing themes of advancing technology and human psychology in an ambitious, poignant story.
Moore’s lyrical language is coupled with a crystalline vision of her characters. Lionhearted Ada, whom we follow from childhood to adulthood, is unforgettable: brainy, guarded yet full of curiosity and passion. The supporting cast also shines. An irresistible page-turner with a heart-stopping ending, The Unseen World winds its way through mystery, heartbreak and mortality with an acute sense of what it means to be human.