I know next to nothing about quantum theory beyond the fact that it’s complex, uncertain and relates to connections between different fields of science.
The quantum concept takes on a human dimension in Entanglement – Quantum + Otherwise by John K Danenbarger. He takes a cast of eight deeply flawed characters and shows how their lives are inexplicably entwined; one person’s actions having unexpected consequences both for themselves and others.
It’s an ambitious novel, made more complex by the way the discontinuous structure of the narrative. We jump from one character to another, leap backwards and forwards in time (sometimes skipping a decade) and switch locations. Some characters disappear from the narrative for chapters only to re-appear. Others disappear entirely, the victims of a road accident or a shooting, the significance of which only becomes apparent several chapters later.
It begins with Beth Sturgess, a young drug addict found in a bad shape on a street in Bangor, Maine. Her rescuer is Joe Tink, a stripper in a local bar who has a passion for reading. Thinking he is doing her a favour, Joe gets her a job on a yacht heading for Bermuda. But she ends up in even bigger trouble and has to escape from a man with a track record for keeping sex slaves.
And then suddenly we lost Beth and the narrative is switched to the other main characters including a police officer, a physics professor and a mentally disturbed young man. Some of these people have been keeping secrets all their lives. Two of them commit murder. To say their lives are messy would be an understatement.
Entanglement is the kind of novel where you have to keep your wits about you. I found it utterly confusing to begin with, unable to see how all the scenes and episodes fitted together. Often I wasn’t even sure I knew which character was the focus of the chapter. I suspect the fact I was engaging with this book in audio format made things even more difficult despite the narrator’s skill at using different voices.
But the individual stories were enticing and I was more than a little curious how they would fit together. The more the novel developed, the more engrossing it became. It actually became great fun trying to assemble the pieces of information and find the connections. Admittedly it was a little hard to keep up with the story line at times because of its multiple twists and turns but perseverance was definitely rewarded.
Ultimately Entanglement is a book about mistakes and bad decisions, about the flaws in each of us and the sheer complexity about being human.
People who understand quantum theory would probably understand the metaphor upon which the book is based, far better than I could. But I never felt that my lack of knowledge was a hinderance. What you do need is some patience and a willingness to go with the flow, wherever that takes you.
Entanglement Quantum + Otherwise : End Notes
Entanglement was published by StormBlock Publishing in August 2019. The audio version went on release in October 2019. I received a copy from the publishers via MindbuckMedia in return for an honest review
Atlanta-born author John Danenbarger gained a degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Kansas.. With a backlist of short stories, Danenbarger established the Salem Massachusetts Writers’ Club. After living in Oslo, Norway, Stockholm, Sweden, and Massachusetts , Danenbarger achieved a merchant marine captain’s license, sailing for two years on the New England coast including two round-trips to Bermuda. He now spends much of his time writing in Italy.
The narrator of the audiobook, David de Vries is an award-winning narrator with more than 100 titles to his credit.